Truck Maintenance, Why Do Some Companies Struggle?
Why is it for some companies Maintenance appears to be so hard? As a Safety Consultant, I get to view many Safety Scores. Im reading CVORs, Provincial Profiles and of course CSA/SMS scores. When I see these Safety Scores, Im often shocked at the maintenance category! Why are the trucks being put Out of Service, receiving tickets and violations? You as a company owner try and maintain the equipment. You are spending big bucks on Maintenance, and yet your scores are terrible. You are spending the money, ratings are awful, and you dont know how to fix it! I can help. So let us start at the beginning and we will walk through Maintenance.
If you are an American or a Canadian company that sends its trucks to the USA, then you are governed by the FMCSA regulations. If you are a Canadian only company then the National Safety Code and your province, has a say in the maintenance of your fleet. But what are they saying?
Both countries say the same thing. You have got to maintain your equipment. Yes, all of your trucks, tractors, and trailers. Also, any units that run under your authority, such as Owner Operators and rental units. Running under your authority could mean, leased trucks or trailers, rented equipment and of course Owner Operators. Specifically, the regulations say that you can either maintain your equipment or cause to be kept. So you can either do it yourself in your shop with your mechanics or send your trucks and trailers to a third party and have that place of business complete the maintenance. It is up to you, but you must do one or the other.
For your guidance, please refer to either the National Safety Code Standard 11 or the FMCSA regulation 396.
I like the Canadian Standard 11. The introduction of the standard outlines the thought process of the specifications and some very helpful hints on how to meet the norm. For example, “Most established carriers undertake their systematic fleet maintenance and repair programs based on the maintenance servicing schedule suggested by the original equipment manufacturer (OEM). This is the best piece of advice that can be provided in designing a maintenance program.” It goes on to say that this is the minimum servicing interval. This is great advice. Just do it as per the OEM’s advice.
The standard goes on to suggest that every carrier implements an “A, B, and C” maintenance schedule.
The A service is periodic inspection, for example, every month. The “B” service is a more extensive service, which includes the same components as the “A” service but much more, and may be done either bi-monthly or quarterly, depending on your company or between 10,000 and 30,000 KM’s. The “C” service is completed every six months and is the same your “Annual” inspection.
Remember, whether you are following the National Safety Code or the FMCSRs, these are minimum standards. In the case of a Facility Audit, you will be judged and graded on if you met this standard. In the event of a court lawsuit, the lawyers will use these rules to see you were following the law. But meeting the minimum and may not get you great scores.
First, you need to have this as a written policy. The written document needs to be available to an officer in the situation of an Audit. In a court action, as a defense, the procedure would be used. In the case of Owner Operators, the same system needs to apply as a minimum. Why did I suggest a minimum? Many companies require that an owner Operator hand in their maintenance report monthly. I cant find in the regulations where this is a requirement. But it is a best business practice. Unfortunately, some Owner Operators neglect maintenance. If they are working for your company and they get a violation, it falls your Safety Scores. It makes your business look bad.
So let us implement are strident Maintenance Policy. You can start with the What and When. What will be inspected and when it will take place. Start off first with a written policy telling the op[orators that Daily Vehicle Inspections are mandatory. I know that you know this is required, but you need this plan in writing. Your drivers and operators need to know that the policy is so important that you took the time and put it in written format. Step 1, Daily Inspections.
The second part of the policy is to define what an A Service
is and when it will take place. I urge you to have the A Service happen on a monthly basis. When I say monthly it may not be in a calendar month. It can be time-based, such as a number of days, hours or based on kilometers traveled. For a company that does more than city deliveries, this is the way to go. Base your maintenance on mileage or kilometers traveled. Estimate what your average amount of travel per truck, per month is and let that be your maintenance interval. For a long haul company, this might be 20,000 kilometers or 12,000 miles. Outline what an A Service will include. This service is usually an oil and filter change with a quick visual inspection. Of course, any minor defects were reported by the driver, would also be repaired to during this maintenance.
Your B Service
needs to be a much more extensive inspection. It could take place either bi-monthly or quarterly. This B Service would depend on the type and age of the equipment. What you may save by purchasing an older unit you often spend on increased maintenance. Again, as a minimum, refer to the OEMs recommendations and guidance.
The C Service
is a complete CVIP Inspection. This C Service is called or referred to as an Annual Inspection. Yes, it is required Annually, but that is the minimum. It is the best practice to do a CVIP inspection every six months. So again you must outline the when and what of the inspection.
So there you have it. A plan to get your maintenance under control. Write and implement a Maintenance Policy. Yes, you have to stick to it, but I know that you can do it. As outlined above, get every vehicle inspected daily, monthly, bi-monthly and every six months. In other words, Daily Inspection by the driver, A Service by the garage, B Service completed by a qualified mechanic and the CVIP completed by a certified CVIP Station every six months. If you follow this outline, I know that your maintenance scores will improve, and you will have fewer headaches.
Link to National Safety Code:
NSC Standard 11
Commercial Vehicle Maintenance and Inspection (PMVI) – Updated October 2014
A standard which outlines maintenance and periodic inspections.
NSC Standard 13
Trip Inspection – Updated March 2009
Schedule of Provincial Implementation – November 2011 | Interpretation Guide / Q&A
A standard which prescribes daily trip inspection requirements.
The daily vehicle trip inspection standard is intended to ensure early identification of vehicle problems and defects, and to prevent the operation of vehicles with conditions that are likely to cause or contribute to a collision or vehicle breakdown.
Daily vehicle trip inspection is a continuous process designed to protect drivers and alert carriers to mechanical problems. The general objective of daily vehicle trip inspections is to promote an improved level of safety and compliance in commercial vehicles operating on the highway.