How to tap VMRS codes’ full potential

Let’s dive into VMRS codes’ three primary levels, the aforementioned three, six and nine digits (read here). Three-digit codes provide the highest-level insight into an issue, such as which system is affected—engine, electrical, brakes, etc. Six-digit codes look at the assembly—the major components within the system, such as an alternator.

Let’s dive into VMRS codes’ three primary levels, the aforementioned three, six and nine digits (read here). Three-digit codes provide the highest-level insight into an issue, such as which system is affected—engine, electrical, brakes, etc. Six-digit codes look at the assembly—the major components within the system, such as an alternator. The deepest level is nine-digit codes, which identify specific parts inside a component, such as parts inside the alternator, or the position of the part, such as left or right brake pad. 

Those few extra digits can add up: the more digits that are included in the code, the more valuable, specific and actionable insights a fleet can gain into the health of their vehicles. Here’s a look at some of the benefits of going beyond three-digit VMRS codes.

Bottom line benefits 

VMRS codes provide a variety of benefits to a maintenance shop—those that aren’t using the coding system will likely have longer periods of vehicle downtime, less efficient operations and more costly repairs, like road service, simply because their vehicle maintenance history and reporting isn’t standardized and tracked automatically. Trimble reported a 5% to 30% cost savings for its fleet customers after implementing software that uses VMRS codes as a source for vehicle service history, warranty tracking and more. 

However, the biggest cost to a shop that doesn’t use VMRS codes is the loss of warranty recovery dollars. Service providers that are using manual systems to track warrantied parts are far more likely to miss out on recovering the cost of replacing a part under warranty, simply because they were unaware of which part it was, and when the warranty was expiring. 

With warranty software that runs on six- and nine-digit VMRS codes, service providers are notified automatically when a part’s warranty deadline is approaching, which allows them to replace parts proactively while a truck is already in the shop, rather than the part failing on the road and needing to hold onto it and remember to submit a claim later.

The benefits of the codes are two-fold: not only are shops able to recoup costs, but they also have valuable business intelligence at their fingertips that shows trends and patterns related to part failures and repairs with a certain vehicle or fleet. This business intelligence allows companies to take action to optimize operations accordingly and increase resource utilization in terms of both employees and assets.

Effective change management 

It’s one thing to talk about the benefits of using VMRS codes in a shop; it’s another thing to actually roll out the system within a shop or service center. Adoption and education are two of the biggest pitfalls we see in rolling out a new service center solution that uses VMRS codes.  

If the full shop team isn’t on board or ready to implement, you may end up with sloppy or incorrect code entry, and the full value of the system won’t be realized—that’s why effective change management is critical to a successful implementation of VMRS codes in a maintenance shop. 

It’s understandable why fleets, shops and service centers would be concerned about implementing a new VMRS coding system in a previously paper-based shop. This is why it’s important to work closely with the TMC and an experienced solutions provider to help support the change and provide education.

VMRS-certified professionals can help shops configure the coding system in a way that works for them. Smaller fleets may need to invest more upfront time and effort into setting up the system and ensuring that techs understand the new system, so having a trusted partner whose team has significant expertise in VMRS codes is crucial.

Trending now: more data

There’s almost no one in the trucking industry today who is asking for less data and fewer insights into their operation. It’s more critical than ever to tap into the many sources of data available to a fleet in order to gain insights that are not only accurate, but actionable.

This abundance of data is shaping the industry in new ways, many of which are still in the fledgling stages. Today, we’re just at the beginning of what is sure to be an ongoing trend of creating more predictive algorithms that can analyze data to proactively recommend actions to prevent issues. Predictive maintenance, for example, is here to stay and will continue to increase in utilization as algorithms get smarter and more pervasive across the industry. 

However, these predictive algorithms are only as good as the data that goes into them—yet another reason why VMRS codes are so important. The more specific a maintenance shop can get with six- and nine-digit codes, the better predictions they will receive, keeping units on the road longer and with fewer surprise costs. Getting buy-in from maintenance staff through a solid change management plan will ensure that the number of “unknown” codes like “999” or “XXX” stays low and doesn’t water down insights.

This is only the beginning: new predictive solutions are still being developed as the industry increasingly relies on analytics and moves away from a reactive approach to maintenance. In fact, new codes are still being created to encompass new equipment like electric vehicles and new industries. 

Adoption of VMRS codes is inevitable and will become a requirement in order to stay relevant in the industry – ensuring that those who begin using VMRS codes now will be ready for whatever comes next. 

Renaldo Adler is industry principal for asset maintenance for Trimble Transportation. Mike Keus is vice president of professional services and AMS Operations for Trimble Transportation.