Five Ways Trucking Fleets Can Win the Parts Game

Whether you drive a big rig for a living, are employed in fleet management, call fleet operations home, or work in maintenance, the shortage of truck parts impacts you. Older trucks are sidelined until parts arrive.

Also, fleet maintenance is paying more for parts. And the shortage of computer chips or rising prices for aluminum and steel doesn't help: the production line for Class 5-8 trucks has slowed down.

Parts are, well, only part of the story of high downtime and vehicle utilization. Maintenance technicians and drivers are hard to come by, and business is challenged by supply chain mayhem. Just as Southwest Airlines offset rising fuel costs with fuel hedging, you can hedge your bets and win the parts game.

Here are five fleet management strategies you can implement to avoid fleet downtime and anticipate your spare parts inventory.

1. Keep older trucks on the road

Due to delays in new truck delivery, fleets are maintaining trucks for longer periods of time. That puts the emphasis on maintenance and reliability.

If California has its way, fleets will be required to replace vehicles older than 2010 by the end of this year. California’s proposed legislation is designed to accelerate the transition to newer, greener trucks. Good luck with that, given delays in new truck delivery and tight profit margins.

In any business climate, the fleet mandate is to keep your trucks on the road. Given the current parts market, fleet maintenance needs to dial up scheduled repairs by anticipating when a part will need to be replaced.

That’s easier done with software for fleet maintenance. The right tool can equip maintenance and operations with the top 10 vehicles at risk and the ten most route-ready, so you’re in a better position to make proactive decisions.

2. Maximize the productivity of maintenance stops

Every time a truck is in for maintenance, it’s time not spent on the road. To a certain extent, it can’t be avoided. All vehicles require maintenance. The goal is to limit visits and time in the shop.

For inspiration, consider a NASCAR pit stop where they execute 73 maneuvers in less than 13 seconds.

Your objective is to get more done faster every time a truck comes in for maintenance. Making repairs and doing scheduled maintenance is the starting point. With the right software, you can weigh risks and predict other maintenance tasks to perform.

You can elect not to replace a recommended part, if data tells a different story. It’s all about managing your risk and that varies from fleet to fleet.

3. Place advance orders for parts

Fleets that pre-buy parts have an advantage over fleets scouring the Internet for parts needed for a repair in the shop. But which parts do you carry in inventory or put on the mobile repair truck? It pays to review historical data on repairs throughout the year. That will give you a benchmark for optimizing your spare parts inventory.

But how can you predict what parts will fail and strand vehicles out on their routes or the highway? It’s a question you need to answer.

If the replacement time period on any given asset is four years and you’re asked to stretch it to five or six years, you’re rolling the dice. You need a technology solution that can show the risk of failure in a whole new light and can give you insights on what parts to carry to optimize inventory.

Fleets are hitting vehicle utilization above 80% as microchip and commodity shortages slow new production.
Fleets are hitting vehicle utilization above 80% as microchip and commodity shortages slow new production.

4. Make sense of data reported by trucks

There is no shortage of data on the truck with sensors reporting on all aspects of operations. Add-on technology like telematics is on the truck as well. From a fleet’s perspective, different brands of trucks mean different data points. The challenge is wrangling all that data and making it actionable.

You don’t need another driver distraction. You need behind-the-scenes predictive analytics that can translate data you already collect into insights that benefit maintenance and operations. You’ll know what maintenance to perform before you’re alerted to it, and you’ll know which trucks among the fleet are most reliable to send out.

5. Get the big picture with clarity

Some in the fleet industry see the value of data in the cloud and believe transparency in the supply chain will help solve bottlenecks with parts. They see this future unfolding over the next five years with wide-scale data use — accessible, scrubbed, and clean.

Supply chain headaches are alleviated when you have a higher view of what is going on and can make more strategic decisions. That’s why you need Uptake Fleet, which you can purchase on the AWS Marketplace.

Uptake Fleet
Uptake Fleet

Winning the parts game won’t be easy. However, by leveraging data your fleet already collects and combining data with fleet management strategies covered in this blog, you can gain a competitive advantage in managing parts.

Looking at the past helps. Adding an eye on the future assists you in winning the parts game and keeping trucks on the road.

Ready to drive more uptime for your fleet?

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