June 27, 2019 2:00 PM, EDT

Vehicle Maintenance Reporting Standards Tackle Latest Challenges

Jack Poster, manager of VMRS Services at TMCJack Poster by Rachel Akpotu (Technology & Maintenance Council)

[Stay on top of transportation news: Get TTNews in your inbox.]

ARLINGTON, Va. — Vehicle Maintenance Reporting Standards emerged nearly 50 years ago and are used by many different organizations across the trucking industry, but there are aspects of them that deserve more attention, experts said.

The S.5 Study Group

Technology & Maintenance Council's S.5 Fleet Maintenance Management Study Group is responsible for maintenance and oversight of VMRS. TMC is a division of American Trucking Associations. Amanda Schuier of Quality Transport Co. is the study group's chairman.

The standards enable different segments — including fleets, suppliers and truck and trailer makers — to communicate with each other in a universal language regarding parts, equipment maintenance and even warranty based on nine-digit code keys.

“There are 82 discrete data elements in VMRS, and they include code keys and instructional sets,” said Robert Braswell, executive director at American Trucking Associations’ Technology & Maintenance Council.

Robert Braswell, executive director at American Trucking Associations’ Technology & Maintenance Council


More than 90% of those using maintenance software are using VMRS, in one form or another, said Jack Poster, manager of VMRS Services at TMC. “A lot of people have misconceptions about VMRS. There are a lot of myths,” Poster said. “VMRS was developed in the 1970s when there were too many parts numbers. No logic. Confusion. VMRS is great for tracking trends and spotting trends. It gives you a quick overview of what is going on [with equipment].”

Poster and others discussed VMRS at the TMC-sponsored Fleet Data Management & Cybersecurity Conference here June 25-26.

He tested the audience’s knowledge, asking, can or does VMRS:

  • Record indirect labor?
  • Record repair-scheduling priority?
  • Record the location where the repair or work was performed?
  • Describe the status or availability of a piece of equipment for service?
  • Contain codes describing kingpin settings?
  • Contain codes to describe the color of your equipment?

Jack Poster, manager of VMRS Services at TMC


The answers were yes to all but the last question, because that code does not yet exist — but Poster said a code could be developed to note the colors of equipment, if requested.

“VMRS is very democratic; we have added new code keys over the years,” he said.

Specific VMRS codes for each question Poster asked are (in order):

  • Code Key 19: Indirect Labor Activities (parts pickup, snow removal, bereavement).
  • Code Key 16: Repair Priority Class (scheduled, nonscheduled, emergency).
  • Code Key 17: Rep air Site (facility, dealer/service provider, etc.).
  • Code Key 20: Vehicle Status (active, decommission to sell, equipment for sale, etc.).
  • Code Key 77: King Pin Status (12” to < 18”, 42” < 48”).

As a result of the meeting, “I want people to say, ‘I didn’t know VMRS could do that, or I could use it to do X,’” Poster said.

Vehicle Maintenance Reporting Standards are easily adaptable, he added. “If your business model does not need all of them, don’t use them all. Don’t burden your people with extra codes,” Poster said.

But he suggested basic codes for use:

  • Code Key 14: Reason for Repair — a bird’s eye view of what brought the equipment in.
  • Code Key 33: Component Code — there are 33,000 listings, everything from work shoes to fuel additives to alternator diodes (it’s the most difficult code and the “bugaboo” of everybody who uses VMRS, Poster said).
  • Code Key 34: Manufacturer Code — to know where you are buying the parts as there are about 10,000 listings for manufacturers (it is the code that is growing the most, he said).
  • Code Key 15: Work Accomplished — what did you do? (point and click, and that’s it? It’s identified, he said).
  • Code Key 18: Technician Failure Code — why are the parts failing, were they bent, broken or seized?
  • Code Key 79: Position Code — where is the part located on the equipment?

TMC-sponsored Fleet Data Management & Cybersecurity Conference VMRS group

The group watches the presentation by Braswell and Poster. (Rachel Akpotu/Technology & Maintenance Council)

The S.5 Fleet Maintenance Management Study Group recently completed a survey, based on code keys 15 and 33 that covered the average standard repair times for 75 commonly performed labor tasks in fleet and service-provider operations. The survey drew 54 respondents.

The top 10 labor tasks by the longest length of repair time (recorded in the nearest hundredth of an hour whereby 1 hour and 45 minutes is recorded as 1.75) were clutch assembly (9.14), automatic transmission (8.19), EGR cooler (5.88), radiator (4.61), new truck in-service (4.58), brake air compressor (4.29), turbocharger (4.00), intake manifold gasket (3.77), EGR valve (3.31) and A/C evaporator core (3.22).

“VMRS was developed so you could put together a vehicle birth certificate,” Poster said. “And it’s perfect for that.”