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TMC 2023


TMC Annual Meeting to Spotlight Root Cause Analysis

Orange County Convention Center in Orlando, Fla.
The Orange County Convention Center in Orlando, Fla., site of the Technology & Maintenance Council Annual Meeting and Transportation Technology Exhibition on Feb. 27-March 2. (John Sommers II for Transport Topics)

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For many technicians, root cause analysis has been the gateway to finding automotive repair and maintenance solutions.

American Trucking Associations’ Technology & Maintenance Council contends that process can be implemented throughout the fleet technician market, and it will be highlighted at the Annual Meeting and Transportation Technology Exhibition in Orlando, Fla., on Feb. 27-March 2.

This year’s theme, “Advancing Reliability Through Root Cause Analysis,” explores that examination practice in and out of the garage bay with technical sessions that delve into recruiting and retaining technicians, supply chain concerns and other hotly debated issues.

TMC Executive Director Robert Braswell said the council’s theme was derived from General Chairman Randy Obermeyer’s philosophy for the past year. Root cause analysis is a proactive prognostic type of maintenance exercise, and as chairman, Obermeyer’s idea is to apply that strategy to different things in the council, Braswell noted.

Robert Braswell


“He’s always been very interested in finding the root cause of anything dealing with maintenance and repair. He is an expert in those things and part of the TMC Lean Six Sigma classes,” Braswell said. “It comes down to the general methodological tool to find out a root causes as to why something fails, instead of just being reactive.”

Braswell noted that by applying root cause analysis to different things in the council instead of just using it in the development process, members can look at the industry’s challenges from a different perspective.

TMC General Chairman Randy Obermeyer

TMC General Chairman Randy Obermeyer. (John Sommers II for Transport Topics) 

“For example, why do we have battery problems? OK, let’s really dig down to find out why. Try to go down as far as you can to prevent it from failing,” he explained. “Because most of the time with electrical things, there was no trouble found on the part itself when it comes back for warranty analysis. So there’s obviously something else going on, and a root cause analysis approach would help prevent those kinds of wasteful parts changes.”

That approach could be used to examine many of the issues that are plaguing the industry. Braswell noted that one of the more oft-debated subjects,aftermarket brake lining classification, most likely will provide for spirited conversation during the exhibition. TMC’s S.6 Chassis & Brake Systems study group, “A Fresh Look at Aftermarket Brake Lining Classification, will present its findings during its mini-­technical session scheduled for Feb. 28.

Ron Moody


The study group, chaired by Ron Moody of Haldex Brake Products, has reactivated a long-standing task force to review TMC Recommended Practice (RP) 628C, Aftermarket Brake Lining Classification, which was first developed more than 20 years ago to assist fleets in providing a brake classification listing of aftermarket products in cooperation with the SAE International-affiliated Performance Review Institute.

“There is no such standard that exists in industry for aftermarket,” Braswell said. “A lot of folks buy aftermarket linings because it’s cost-effective. And in some cases, the linings are better. But the problem is, how do you tell?.…Because there is no standard.”

Braswell noted that RP updates were made five years ago, but rather controversially due to manufacturers’ skepticism toward voluntarily allowing testing on OE brake linings. For this year’s annual meeting, Braswell said to expect some degree of “fireworks” from this discussion.

Exhibit floor at 2022 TMC in Orlando, Fla.

A view of the exhibition floor from TMC's 2022 Annual Meeting in Orlando, Fla. (John Sommers II for Transport Topics)

“There is a great divergence of opinion as to what the motive and intentions are of all the players in this game,” he said. “Some people think the OEM is just going to stonewall. And other people say no. It’s about making sure the stuff is as safe as it could be. The truth lies in middle.”

The aftermarket brake lining discussion is part of the 110 industry task force meetings that will be featured during the Annual Meeting, which will feature an exhibition floor as well as the dozen educational sessions including the popular “Shop Talk” session.

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