Many communities rely on public transportation to get around, and with that reliance comes the expectation that buses and motorcoaches will arrive on schedule and deposit riders safely to their destinations.
A downed asset can cause transit organizations a plethora of problems, including productivity loss, increased service spend, a decrease in public perception, and employee frustration, which can lead to higher turnover rates.
Public transit fleets can use fleet solutions, such as fleet management software (FMS), to improve asset reliability and lengthen assets’ useful life by tracking and improving preventive maintenance (PM) schedules.
Tracking Preventive Maintenance
Tracking PM compliance rates helps public transit fleets understand their current processes, including what’s working and what’s not. While this may be a difficult and time-consuming task to undertake for fleets still relying on manual and/or disconnected documentation processes, it’s still a worthwhile endeavor.
Knowing how compliant the organization is regarding each asset’s PM can shed light on such issues as:
- Postponed PM due to shop delays, parts delays, technician shortages/inadequate staffing, and improper scheduling.
- Increased repair spend due to delays, improper PM intervals, and missed items on PM checklists.
- Increased fuel consumption due to asset age and advanced component wear.
Public transit fleets can use FMS to quickly surface and source PM issues for faster resolution. FMS automatically collects and consolidates fleet data from multiple sources, including work orders, inspections, issue alerts like faults and recalls (DTC faults are pulled in through telematics integrations), and fuel transactions (whether input into FMS directly or pulled from fuel card integrations).
FMS automatically aggregates this data into filterable reports so fleet managers can quickly get the data they need and easily surface the source of problems.
Improving Preventive Maintenance
Aside from compliance, a major cause of inefficient PM is using a one-size-fits-all approach. Even two assets that are the same year, make, and model, purchased at the same time, and running similar miles per day can have vastly different PM needs, due in part to route type and driver behavior. Tailoring PM to individual assets improves uptime and extends assets’ useful life.
Assessing asset usage data, including idle hours, and fuel consumption, provides insights into how well an asset is operating. Cross-referencing this data with a fleet asset’s baseline — that is, its expected performance based on where it is in its lifecycle — can help surface whether the asset is showing signs of mechanical issues, as well as whether the asset is holding up as expected over the course of daily operations.
The data allows for the fine tuning of assets’ PM schedules. Additionally, fleets can use inspection and service histories to hone in on high-fail and recurring mechanical issues, which can be added to PM schedules to prevent related downtime and additional component damage.
Fleet managers can customize and set PM schedules in FMS to ensure each asset is getting the proper service at the right time. Managers can set PM alerts to be sent to the appropriate parties — drivers, technicians, schedulers, dispatchers, basically anyone who needs to know, including third-party service providers — to alleviate workflow and miscommunication issues.
Gaining Insights from Fleet Data
Both direct and indirect maintenance data make up a significant portion of a fleet’s overall operating data. Direct maintenance data collected from work orders, PM schedules, and service histories provides a detailed look at what’s actively going on with fleet assets.
Using this data, fleets can cross-reference PM schedules against service histories to determine if PM tasks or intervals for assets need to be adjusted, as well as whether services need to be added to an asset’s PM schedule based on non-PM services performed around the same time.
Indirect maintenance data, such as data from inspections and fuel usage, acts as a supplemental tool for proactive maintenance. When analyzed separately from direct maintenance data, indirect data provides insights into how well assets are operating over the course of daily activities.
Pairing direct and indirect maintenance data can point to ongoing issues that may be overlooked when looking at direct data alone, such as increased fuel consumption and increased wear and tear to common wear items. FMS automatically brings these data analytics to the forefront so fleets can quickly gain the insights needed to take proactive actions.
Because public transit fleet assets are a large expense, extending the useful life of assets is critical. Tailoring PM to assets’ needs is a great way to move from reactive to proactive maintenance, which doesn’t just help extend lifecycles, it also provides the added benefits of reduced downtime and associated productivity loss, reduced service spend, and improved asset reliability and ROI.
About the Author: Rachael Plant is a content marketing specialist for Fleetio, a fleet management software company that helps organizations track, analyze and improve their fleet operations.