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June 26, 2020 4:30 PM, EDT

Study: LTL Carriers Cover More Miles Between Breakdowns Than Truckload Fleets

Truck on roadside with hood upvitpho/Getty Images

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Less-than-truckload carriers outpaced truckload fleets in terms of miles between roadside breakdowns, according to the latest findings from a benchmarking initiative that tracks maintenance events for Class 8 trucks.

LTL carriers on average traveled 55,407 miles between breakdowns, while truckload fleets covered 14,991 miles between incidents, according to first-quarter data collected by the TMC/FleetNet America Vertical Roadside Breakdown Benchmarking Program, a cooperative effort between American Trucking Associations’ Technology & Maintenance Council and maintenance data provider FleetNet America. The results were presented June 24 as part of TMC’s Vehicle Electrical/Electronic Architecture and Fleet Benchmarking Conference, which TMC Executive Director Robert Braswell said was the first virtual conference in the council’s history.

Through the partnership, TMC and FleetNet compile quarterly data from fleets, and that data is shared with TMC members. The program tracks truckload, less-than-truckload and tank fleets.

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For Q1, the study found a disparity in the performance of truckload carriers; the best-in-class truckload fleet ran 300% more miles between breakdowns than the sector’s vertical average. By comparison, the best-in-class LTL carrier outpaced the vertical average by 11%. The average tank fleet could realize a 21% improvement by matching the segment’s best-in-class performer.

Overall, mechanical repairs continue to increase on a sequential quarterly basis, rising 30% compared with the fourth quarter of 2019.

The report also found that the cost of an unscheduled mechanical repair continues to climb, but not as fast as in previous quarters. The Q1 cost for a mechanical repair ($491) was 30% higher than the cost in the same quarter in 2019.

Jim Buell of FleetNet

Buell

Systems included in TMC’s Vehicle Maintenance Reporting Standards system account for nearly 70% of the top unscheduled roadside repairs, which comprised tires, brakes, lighting, power plants and exhaust systems. “That is good news,” said Jim Buell, FleetNet’s executive vice president for sales and marketing, suggesting the results indicate that technicians are focusing on regular maintenance and more likely pinpoint failure areas more efficiently.

“With 140 VMRS systems in the works, five of them were 70% of the big repairs."

VMRS provides coding conventions to manage fleets’ assets and analyze maintenance operation costs, which can serve as a universal language across fleets, original equipment manufacturers and industry suppliers.

Chris Harrell, director of maintenance administration and fuel for Old Dominion Freight Lines

Harrell

“We all want to know where we want to improve. We want to see how others are performing in our space,” said Chris Harrell, director of maintenance administration and fuel for Old Dominion Freight Lines, during a roundtable discussion with fleet managers who discussed how they’re using the data to improve performance.

Old Dominion ranks No. 8 on the Transport Topics Top 100 list of the largest for-hire carriers in North America.

To take part in the program, fleets must provide and share full quarterly information about all unscheduled roadside repairs and mileage via accurate VMRS coding that covered roadside repairs. The averaged data is shared anonymously with TMC members.

“To be able to participate in this, it’s very easy,” Buell said. “It’s all about good data integrity. We owe each other that.”

“The data gathered by this project has been very instructive as to where maintenance improvements can be made,” Braswell added.

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