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3/17/2017 4:00:00 PM Write a Letter to the Editor Write a letter to the Editor

Reining in Rising Maintenance Costs


This story appears in the March 13 print edition of Equipment & Maintenance Update, a supplement to Transport Topics.

Fleet managers are relying more on high-tech shop equipment, technology-savvy technicians, efficient shop practices and flexible preventive maintenance scheduling in efforts to rein in the rising maintenance costs inherent with the complexity of today's trucks.

The challenge is steep. Average motor carrier repair and maintenance costs rose to 15.6 cents per mile in 2015, a 51% increase from 2008, according to the American Transportation Research Institute's 2016 report on carrier costs. ATRI is part of American Trucking Associations.

Much of that cost increase is being attributed to the repair and maintenance of emissions systems, the biggest headache in fleet maintenance today, which was reported in the August 2016 issue of Equipment & Maintenance Update.

BEST OF MARCH E&MU: More stories, columns

At the heart of the problem are today’s sophisticated onboard electronics and emissions systems and the ability of shop technicians to quickly and accurately diagnose a truck’s ills.

“The whole industry is feeling the pain of diagnostics,” said Gregg Mangione, senior vice president of maintenance for Penske Truck Leasing. He referred to pre-2007 Environmental Protection Agency regulations as an example. “An ’06 model maybe had 350 fault codes. Since then, well over 2,000 have been added.”

Over the past five years, the Vehicle Maintenance Reporting Standards, or VMRS, a system of identifying component and activity codes maintained by the Technology & Maintenance Council, a division of ATA, has added 6,200 new codes for parts and work processes. These include labor, technology, work accomplished and new terminology for shop work, including 380 codes just for individual parts associated with aftertreatment systems, said Jack Poster, VMRS services manager. “That’s what’s coming at the fleets,” he said.

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By Jim Galligan
Contributing Writer

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