Regular maintenance of commercial vehicles is a necessary evil. Vital for safe and efficient operations it nevertheless takes revenue-earning vehicles out of service. Almost always at the least convenient moment! In emerging ‘as-a-service’ and ‘power-by-the-hour’ models, maintenance is both crucial to maximize ‘uptime’ and a contributor to ‘downtime’. For those providing the maintenance service speed and efficiency are key factors in delivering high quality customer experience – but other value-added services could create further differentiation and win-win situations for vehicle operators and maintenance partners. Using data from onboard vehicle sensors, combined with detailed information from manufacturers, supply chain partners and even environmental data sources can deliver deep insights that can transform a regular service from a chore to a delight.
OPTIMIZING FOR UPTIME
We’ve discussed predictive maintenance in previous blogs – using vehicle data, combined with databases of individual parts, stock numbers and batches, engineers can predict in advance when specific parts might fail. Addressing faults and acting to prevent them has obvious advantages for all parties. Taking a wider-ranging view across an entire vehicle, or even across an entire fleet will allow vehicle operators and service teams to combine several ‘fixes’ into planned service intervals. These can be scheduled to take into account overall fleet utilisation, planned work and even time of year. Seasonality of work, as well as the impact of weather can be taken into consideration and all the data combined to define the optimum time to take a specific vehicle off the road for planned maintenance. By integrating and leveraging data, maintenance teams and operators can form deeper partnerships that extend beyond regular service intervals to create flexible and agile arrangements that enhance productivity on both fronts.
SMOOTHING THE PEAKS
That productivity extends into the workshop as well. To be effective workshop managers must continually juggle availability of parts, labour and work to keep vehicles moving through the workshop smoothly. Fixed service intervals can lead to ‘peaky’ workflow that mirrors demand for vehicles. Operators purchase or lease vehicles to match predicted demand. Regular service intervals then coincide with those peaks, so that vehicles are often off the road at the exact time there are most in demand. The knock-on effect is that workshop space and skilled labour are also at a premium at specific points in the cycle.
Using integrated data to define optimum service schedules can smooth out these peaks. Work can be scheduled to ensure that skilled mechanics have enough work to be busy but not overloaded. The need for temporary staff is minimised, and regular staff see job security enhanced with a steady stream of work.
Similarly, vehicle data is vital to ensure that the right parts are at the right facility at the right time. Stock levels can be reduced (freeing capital and space) by ensuring that parts are ordered ‘just in time’ based on requirements predicted by analytics driven by vehicle data.
Data is at the heart of this optimization. It comes from multiple sources across businesses and even across ecosystems of partners collaborating on projects. In ‘as-a-service’ scenarios data sharing between customer, main contractor and a host of sub and auxiliary providers provides the bedrock of effective operations. Vehicle data, work schedules, supply chains, cost and budget data, customer information and environmental considerations may all need to feed into a single integrated data fabric to support a specific project. Managing it at speed and scale can provide near-real-time updates to all parties.
It provides opportunities to go beyond expected levels of service. Workshops can provide information in advance, letting customers know of planned maintenance schedules and likely downtime as well as advising of potential issues that could be tackled in advance. Data can also be used to recommend additional work, upgrades or performance tweaks based on individual vehicle and usage.
Integrating wider data, perhaps the preferences of individual drivers, specific routes or routines, could suggest new value-added services such as a choice of pick-up or drop-off location, bookable timeslots or even opportunities to test-drive new vehicles whilst one is being serviced.
Time is money for commercial vehicle operators and anything that can either minimize downtime or create new ways to mitigate its impact will be appreciated. Optimizing servicing maximises uptime and therefore revenue. It also helps maintenance workshops manage their workloads and productivity. Finding new ways to delight customers and create differentiation is equally important for commercial business to business relationships as it is in consumer sectors. Using data, and vehicle data in particular can open the door to all of these advantages. To find out more, please get in touch with our automotive consultancy team.