Preventive Maintenance (PM) is one of the more obvious “secrets” to operating a profitable fleet. It is even more important for pre-owned commercial trucks and vans, which can deliver measurable ROI if they are well-maintained. Managers and drivers know that a PM is valuable and necessary, but often do not realize its uplifting effect on the bottom line.
That is because minimizing downtime has been the core mission of fleet PM for years. But it has other benefits, too, and the biggest may be this: improved fuel economy, which lowers the drain on operating cash. That connection has been studied by The North American Council for Freight Efficiency (NACFE) and a public-private entity called Carbon War Room (CWR). Together they founded Trucking Efficiency, a joint effort to analyze and improve the movement of US freight.
In its recent Trucking Efficiency Confidence Report on PM, Operation Lead Mike Roeth said, “There is strong evidence that properly maintained trucks will enjoy improved fuel economy.”
More uptime burning less fuel equals better profit margins. However, Trucking Efficiency Confidence Report adds that, “…some fleets still view maintenance as a cost, making cuts to the maintenance budget during tough economic times. This Confidence Report recommends that fleets should think of maintenance in terms of the fuel economy benefits it offers. Adding up all of the potential reductions in fuel economy covered under the 10 components described in the report shows that maintenance can in fact address 30% to 50% of fuel consumption.”
The 10 systems/components named in the Trucking Efficiency Confidence Report are:
- Lubricants/Engine Oil
- Intake/Exhaust System and Diesel Particulate Filters
- Engine Cooling
- Air Compressors
- Wheel Alignment
- Fuel Filter Systems
- Aerodynamic Devices
- Electrical Systems
- Air Conditioning
Locking Down Preventive Maintenance at Today’s Rates
The view of PM as a cost center rather than a savings generator is changing now, as mountains of fleet data proves its contribution. But that does not alter the fact that maintenance has costs, and those costs rise every year. As the actual ROI of routine PM gains wider recognition, new products are emerging to help fleets manage the rising cost of maintenance.
An example of innovation in this area is prepaid Preventive Maintenance. At the forefront of the trend is Ryder’s Prepaid Preventive Maintenance for pre-owned vehicles. Announcing this industry first, Ryder said there are three primary benefits to prepaid PM:
- Flexibility: Customers can select from 1-, 2-, or 3-year PM packages at the time of vehicle purchase, and can also finance the maintenance package they choose.
- Savings: Pre-paying locks in current PM prices for the immediate future (1-, 2-, or 3-years). Customers also get discounts for any necessary repairs, parts, and tires.
- Peace of mind: Customers have access to Ryder’s nationwide network of 5,900 top industry technicians, and 800+ service facilities nationwide.
Making a prepaid PM option available for pre-owned vehicles is a potential game-changer for smaller fleets and owner-operators that may work on slimmer margins. Those same businesses are often less able to cope with vehicle downtime, which makes PM even more critical.
Industry sources including Trucking Efficiency are promoting the new math of PM. Their report concluded that, “While reducing downtime is the main pathway to payback from investments in maintenance, adding information about the increased fuel economy enjoyed by well-maintained trucks can make investments in maintenance…an easier sell across fleet management.”