10 Ways Fleet Maintenance Software Can Help Manage Cost and Boost Profitability
Truck fleets with their own maintenance shops are under increasing pressure to maximize mechanic and technician productivity and minimize parts inventories, particularly in the current challenging economy. By accomplishing these objectives, companies stand a better chance of gaining a competitive advantage and boosting profitability.
“Gathering and sorting through a myriad of information to achieve those objectives, while still directing day-to-day operations, remains one of the biggest challenges facing fleet maintenance directors and shop supervisors,” said John Wisdom, director of customer systems for Kenworth PremierCare® Connect. “A good maintenance management program can help. It allows managers to track the time taken by mechanics or technicians to perform tasks, such as preventive maintenance and general repairs. Users can also track parts purchasing and inventory so that their shops don’t carry more parts than needed.”
A robust system should provide the same functions offered by Kenworth PremierCare Connect, which is available through Kenworth dealers. It should allow users to establish an automated parts reorder process and help track costs through American Trucking Associations vehicle maintenance reporting standards (VMRS) codes. The Kenworth PremierCare Connect system can track work histories on specific units, enabling mechanics to more accurately diagnose issues and avoid costly repeat or unnecessary repairs. The system also tracks warranty periods and recalls, so that companies can recover reimbursements from manufacturers or suppliers quickly.
Unlike the Kenworth PremierCare Connect system, most maintenance programs are offered as stand-alone software, which may require users to make expensive upgrades to their computers or existing networks. Required upgrades may add a significant delay to the implementation process. While providers of such software are starting to offer hosted solutions, users should consider how much experience they have in offering those hosted solutions.
Experienced providers often offer training options and extensive online user manuals that allow employees to train at their own pace, he added. For example, Kenworth PremierCare Connect offers an online library of more than 60 training videos for users. With the video library, employees can be trained to step in for co-workers who leave or go on vacation.
Companies should also find out how much application and technical support they will receive after system installation and activation. Kenworth offers both application and technical support services as part of the program’s monthly fee. With PremierCare Connect, that support is enhanced by Kenworth’s extensive dealer network.
Fleet maintenance software should be scalable, allowing users to add functions that make sense for their maintenance shops. Kenworth PremierCare Connect has a module that lets mechanics or technicians scan in work orders so that managers can review their time on and off the job to the nearest minute. PremierCare Connect has a mileage upload module to retrieve vehicle mileage readings from fleet management systems from providers, such as Qualcomm or PeopleNet. Connect provides optional tethered or portable bar code scanners and a bar code label printer for shops to track parts inventory by scanning data into the computer instead of manually inputting the information.
Based on the successful experiences of Kenworth PremierCare Connect users, John Wisdom offers these top 10 ways a fleet maintenance program with add-on features can help fleet managers and shop supervisors manage costs in their shops and boost profitability for their companies:
Maximize equipment uptime
Manages parts inventory accurately
Manages and tracks the cost of parts
Provides an automated parts reorder process
Analyzes and tracks costs by VMRS codes
Provides equipment cost tracking reports
Manages fuel costs more effectively
Provides frequent updates to mileage readings
Captures mechanics time on assigned jobs quickly and accurately
Provides interoperability with accounting software
Many providers of fleet maintenance programs offer interactive demos on their Web sites to help managers with the process of selection and comparison. Programs like Kenworth PremierCare Connect go a step further, Mr. Wisdom said. They offer no-obligation, free consultation and access to a more extensive demonstration that allow managers to try out the system to be sure it works properly for them.
Generally, program providers offer several options ranging from a basic system designed for fleets of 20 or more vehicles, or repair shops with three or more service technicians, to an enterprise system designed for large companies. Besides most of the functions and add-on features mentioned, enterprise systems may include the ability to support multiple business units, real-time shop activity monitoring, and the ability for mechanics to scan in work orders.
Once they have narrowed their options, fleet managers or shop supervisors should then contact the providers for additional consultation on pricing. “The cost of a fleet maintenance management program really depends on a variety of things, including what functions your company operation needs, number of mechanics and technicians in your maintenance shop, and number of trucks in your fleet,” according to John Wisdom. “Selecting the right fleet maintenance management program with the right features for your company’s operation, is key to realizing the system’s full potential”, he added.
Kenworth believes that Kenworth PremierCare customer support programs contributed to Kenworth receiving the 2009 J.D. Power and Associates award for “Highest in Customer Satisfaction for Heavy Duty Dealer Service.”
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