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Survey finds huge disparities in TL roadside repair experiences

Benchmarking effort undertaken by TMC and FleetNet highlights “enormous delta” between “average” and “best in class” fleets in terms of managing unscheduled roadside repairs.

ATLANTA. A recent pilot benchmarking study conducted by the Technology & Maintenance Council (TMC) and vehicle maintenance provider FleetNet America discerned that most North American fleets are experiencing more unscheduled roadside repairs than they should.

Conducted between October and December last year using a select number of TL carriers that volunteered their breakdown data tagged to vehicle maintenance reporting standards (VMRS) codes, the average fleet in the study suffered a breakdown every 11,594 miles – but the “best in class” fleet suffered one only every 45,500 miles.

Tires represented the most frequent cause of unscheduled roadside repairs, followed by lighting, and brakes. In all, five VRMS codes accounted for 37% of all the unscheduled roadside repairs suffered by the motor carriers in the study.

On average, the survey found the participating TL fleets suffered a tire failure every 33,940 miles of operation – but the top performer stretched that to 71,238. Likewise for lighting system issues, the average rate of failure hit around 69,010 miles, while the top performer stretched that to 198,528 miles, or almost three times the industry average. And the costs of unscheduled lighting repairs wasn’t cheap, according to the TMC/FleetNet study, averaging over $200 per repair.

Unscheduled roadside brake repairs affected the participating fleets at an average mileage interval of 79,858 miles and costs 45% per incident to fix compared to lighting incidents; over $400 roughly on average. Yet the top performer in this category suffered an unscheduled roadside repair for braking systems only every 202,950 miles.

Robert Braswell, TMC’s executive director, explained at a press conference here during the group’s annual meeting that TMC is trying to make this pilot a permanent addition to the organization’s calendar – conducted every quarter for the benefit of TMC members so they can gauge their roadside repair performance against their peers.

“Companies can use this study to quickly identify areas that are most likely to drive down maintenance costs,” noted Jim Buell, executive vice president of sales and marketing for FleetNet. “Using data from this vertical benchmarking program will help fleets pinpoint opportunities to improve. This will help them reduce costs, improve their customer service and improve efficiency. It also shows how investment in maintenance can pay off when you look at the delta between the average and the best-in-class. My hope is that we can gather enough fleets to participate regularly so we break them out into ‘cohorts’ such as dry van refrigerated, tanker, LTL, flatbed, etc. But we have to get enough fleets to participate to make the data meaningful.”

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