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030118-Technician_Maintenance-AGM.jpg Photo: Aaron Marsh

Improving fleet maintenance efficiency, effectiveness with VMRS codes

As today’s fleet vehicles continue to be more sophisticated and complex, so do the methods of capturing data and converting it to actionable information. And the information should be usable across manufacturers and equipment types, and normalized so equipment types, systems, and subsystems. The challenge is often how to reconcile the various coding and cataloging systems available from vehicle and equipment manufacturers, computerized maintenance management systems (CMMS), enterprise asset management (EAM), and other vehicle maintenance management systems.

One of the most common systems in trucking is the ATA VMRS (Vehicle Maintenance Reporting Standard) that has been in use, and continuously updated, since 1970. The VMRS coding structure is designed to offer a holistic view of vehicle systems and subsystems. This standard was introduced to the market by the Technology & Maintenance Council of the American Trucking Associations.   

Such a standard was (and is) needed for various reasons, including being able to compare the performance of various components and equipment specs, and as a cross-reference guide for various OEM and aftermarket parts, there wasn’t an industry-wide standard that could allow comparisons of similar specifications.  

This is important, because component manufacturers typically provide their own, proprietary part numbers, but not a standardized coding structure like VMRS. Consequently, it can be difficult to cross-reference this information, so many fleets must still reference VMRS codes manually to find matches.  

So, how are coding standards like VMRS used in fleet operations?  Esssentially, the prrimary VMRS elements include:    

- The VMRS Equipment Master Record: This effectively a vehicle’s birth certificate. It includes information about the specifications for a piece of equipment, sometimes referred to as a unit, including engine, transmission, axle(s), refrigeration units, tailgates, and other equipment, depending on the type of asset.

- Equipment Vocation Codes: Vocation codes are used to identify the primary activity or vocation of a piece of equipment.  A wide range of vocations are identified.  Such activities as linehaul, pickup and delivery, combination service, heavy haul, refuse, and mining are examples of vocation code types.

- Reason for Repair Codes: These codes are used for identifying repair reason types, such as  maintenance, including preventive maintenance, routine maintenance, driver’s report, breakdown, management decision, outside influence, etc.

- Work Accomplished Codes: This category is used to identify what tasks were performed to the piece of equipment.

- Failure Code: Information about why a part or assembly failed

- System Level Coding: Used to identify equipment systems.

- Assembly Level Coding: Used to identify equipment subsystems.

- Component Level Coding: Used to identify equipment components.

Note: The above system, assembly, and component codes are typically used together.  For example within the cranking system code (system #032), 032-001-000 denotes a complete starter, and 032-002-000 would denote a battery.  In the former example, a drilldown to identify specific parts of  starter armature could be further identified by assembly- and component-level coding.  In another example, preventive maintenance tasks can be identified, such as 066-001-000 for an “A” PM, 066-002-000 a “B” service, 066-003-000a “C” service, and so on.     

- Position Codes: Used to identify the position where a part or component are placed, such as left front position.

- Equipment status codes: Used to identify the status of parts in the repair proves, such as onsite repair, repair in progress, parts on order, waiting for authorization, etc.

- Warranty codes: Codes to help fleets to communicate with OEM suppliers and aftermarket suppliers to manage and track warranty claim information.

As a complete system, VMRS codes can be one of the best tools available to today’s fleet management teams. VMRS codes can help identify costs, trends, and performance information for entire fleets, components, parts, as well as comparing such information about mean-time-to-failure or cost-per-mile information of new versus rebuilt parts, as well as a seemingly endless array of performance and cost analyses.


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