Service improvement: Where’s the low-hanging fruit?

The service jobs your shop tackles may differ from those of the fleet next door, but there’s likely one commonality between those brave enough to run their own service operation: preventative maintenance. Looking for easy wins to improve your service throughput and minimize unplanned downtime? Start there.

The service jobs your shop tackles may differ from those of the fleet next door, but there’s likely one commonality between those brave enough to run their own service operation: preventative maintenance. Looking for easy wins to improve your service throughput and minimize unplanned downtime? Start there.

“Gains come from doing the PM when it needs to be done versus over-PMing or not PMing and having an unexpected breakdown because either you didn’t do a particular PM or you didn’t do complete repair when it should’ve been done,” said Scott Vanselous, Trimble executive vice president.

Sound advice from Vanselous. So let’s focus on getting the PM done when it’s needed. What are the challenges? Knowing a truck’s service availability is a big one. Take advantage of any time you can tackle a PM when a truck is not in service. Step one is to make sure you know where the truck is and what it’s doing. The latest tracking technology can help.

“Oftentimes a shop will miss the equipment coming into a yard,” Vanselous said. “With the right telematics integration, you can geofence a location and TMT Service Connect can notify you when a truck has entered the yard. Then you can get that vehicle in the shop and get the repair done.”

Vanselous noted that it’s the small stuff that’s easy to overlook that can lead to big problems if it’s not addressed. 

“It could be as simple as having a light out,” he said. “If a truck is stopped on the road and it has a violation, now you have even more unexpected downtime because now that truck has to get that fixed immediately. There are lot of opportunities to turn a repair over quickly when that vehicle’s already in scheduled downtime.”

“Gains come from doing the PM when it needs to be done versus over-PMing or not PMing and having an unexpected breakdown because either you didn’t do a particular PM or you didn’t do complete repair when it should’ve been done.”– Scott Vanselous, Trimble executive vice president

Today’s service technology solutions should be able to provide you with key performance indicators (KPIs) as to your PM effectiveness—even down to how long it takes a tech to do a specific job. 

“On TMT Service Connect, for example, you can identify, based on the equipment, make, model and year, that this repair is going to take, say, two hours,” Vanselous said. “Once you know that, then you can keep track of when that repair starts, the progress that technician’s making and to make sure that technician is taking the required two hours. Quite frankly, mechanics love to see how well they’ve done compared to the actual repair times we provide through our KPIs.”

The other side of that technology conversation is that the tech could feel like the data-driven Big Brother is breathing down his neck. That’s where you come in as the service manager. You have to explain why the KPIs are important, how the technology works and what they can do to improve; make it a positive experience.

“The reality is that TMT Service Connect is teaching the shop how to improve the throughput and lower their cost,” Vanselous explained. “We can train a technician within about an hour to two hours on how to use our system; it’s all touch screen. And then the technician is actually doing what he or she loves to do, which is actually work on the equipment, not do the paperwork. So, we’re not changing what they do. We’re giving them the ability to be more productive and do what they love to do.”