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Effective Fleet Maintenance in the Digital Age

Our latest blog shows why fleet maintenance in the digital age relies on preventative maintenance strategies driven by the rugged tablet to lower operational costs.

There is ample evidence of the importance of an effective mobile Preventative Maintenance (PM) strategy for fleet success in the recent Technology and Maintenance Council’s (TMC) roadside breakdown report. Numerous leading industry outlets like Transport Topics have covered the report, which starts with the premise that roadside repairs cost four times as much as shop repairs. The challenge to changing that and other maintenance costs statistical increases is how to best use the rugged tablet as the PM connection point for effective fleet maintenance.

While a chief purpose of PM is to track scheduled maintenance, it’s the computerized maintenance management software (CMMS) that enables the predictive part of PM through the following functions:

  • Equipment data management
  • Work order system
  • Scheduling/Planning
  • Vendor Management
  • Inventory Control
  • Purchasing
  • Budgeting
  • Asset Tracking

Every fleet maintenance strategy needs access to constantly updated operational data to shape maintenance parameters and benchmarks. Having this data available in the shop and in the field is critical for improving mean time between failure (MTBF) rates.

Much of that data will come from field operation of fleet assets. That requires a combination of onboard tracking along with operator, supervisor, and maintenance crew data input on a host of parameters. This will range from miles/kilometers, fuel, and hours of service per part to physical inspections before, during, and after operational runs among others.

This collaborative process has onboard systems and operators on one end and maintenance and crews/inventory/parts kits on the other. Taking fleet maintenance from reactive to proactive relies on the mobility of a rugged android tablet that can operate with full connectivity in the shop and in the field.

Driver habits clearly affect the maintenance of the vehicle, and a rugged tablet enables them to make physical inspections a seamless part of their process. This takes the time-consuming paper-based inspection sheets out of the equation, which helps in terms of speed, accuracy, and buy-in from the drivers. Supervisors and maintenance crews can have constant and real-time access to these inspection reports as part of the CMMS data. This process effectively enables:

  • Automatic operational wear and tear updates via visual inspections balanced with OEM hours of service before replacement predictions.
  • Active inventory management based on predictable MTBF rate increases due to PM from part to part.
  • Lower costs ranging from asset and parts life cycle increases to lower maintenance costs and associated customer costs that come with downtime.

While scheduled maintenance through PM strategy execution is at the heart of reducing downtime and maintenance costs, what happens in the field is the driving force. Here is where commercial fleets can use a rugged tablet as part of their condition-based maintenance (CBM) approach. This also shows how a rugged tablet is the best choice for reliability and connectivity in the harsh environments that commercial fleet assets face every day.

With both commercial and military fleet maintenance, the use of onboard and visual inspection data is crucial to an effective PM in the digital age. This is where vehicle tracking and telematics intersect to increase MTBF rates through:

  • Telecommunications
  • Vehicular technologies
  • Road transportation
  • Road safety
  • Wireless communications and computer science.

Vehicle tracking and GPS are just two of many connected technologies that fall within the area of telematics. That’s why connectivity and resilience are necessary foundations for the rugged tablet employed in the field and in the shop for PM strategies.

The key is having the right device for enabling input and review of data in the shop and from physical inspections and repairs in the field. It also enables key personnel to access telematics data that is transmitted to the cloud and/ or other data storage repositories and analytics applications. Having this capability is what will drive the future of fleet maintenance as sensors become a dominant part of effective fleet maintenance in the digital age.

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