Predictive Maintenance is the Key to Avoiding Rising Repair Costs

Truck roadside repair costs have been trending upward for years. A recent study released by FleetNet America found that the average cost of a mechanical roadside repair in Q3 of 2019 exceeded $400 for the first time since the study began in 2017. Additionally, the $407 average cost is 24 percent higher than mechanical repairs in the same quarter of 2018.

While some repair costs are out of your direct control, there are steps you can take to avoid a lot of this unplanned maintenance. There’s a growing trend toward predictive maintenance—the idea that maintenance should be scheduled by analyzing the actual movements of the trailer, rather than simply scheduling preventative maintenance.

How can you protect yourself from roadside repair costs?

It starts with predictive maintenance. Predictive maintenance uses real-world data to determine when a trailer is likely to need service, cutting down on unplanned maintenance events which are much more costly.

And these service determinations aren’t based solely on time or miles traveled. They’re based on hard data coming from the trailer and its components, including weight carried, tire inflation, and the number of times the wheel hubs have rotated.

Maintenance shouldn’t be just about the mileage. The details of those miles are what really counts, and details are what predictive maintenance is all about.

FleetPulse Makes Predictive Maintenance Possible

FleetPulse from Great Dane is a built-in monitoring system that integrates directly with the trailer components and delivers data to the cloud through 4G LTE. This collection of data is what allows for predictive maintenance. The system tracks a wide range of component information, including the mileage from tire rotation, ABS fault codes, and how often your tire inflation system is running.

FleetPulse can also gather loaded weight data. Measuring the exact weight carried by trailers on their routes is the best way to determine the level of wear on both the trailer and its components. Two similar trailers could have each gone 30,000 miles, but if one of them is averaging 15,000 pounds more weight carried per load, its components will have more wear, and that information will let you more accurately plan its maintenance schedule.

Likewise, knowing the exact mileage your trailers have traveled—measured by tracking wheel hub rotations, a much more precise metric than GPS—tells you which trailers may be traveling a disproportionate amount compared to others. Trailers that are being used more will likely need maintenance sooner than the less-traveled trailers that might be receiving preventative maintenance they don’t need yet. Data can help you get a handle on this and properly allocate your resources.

FleetPulse provides data to fleets so they can take action before small issues turn into larger (and more expensive) problems.

FleetPulse and Accurate Lifetime Metrics

NFI, formerly known as National Freight Industries, has been an early adopter of FleetPulse for their fleet of over 4,500 tractors and 12,500 trailers.

“We’ve been searching for a better solution that provides a more accurate reading on the lifetime mileage of our trailers. FleetPulse is the only system that’s been able to bring that piece of information to life via actual wheel revolutions on the trailer,” said Bill Bliem, Senior Vice President of Fleet Services at NFI. “This data point gives us a higher-resolution view on our true cost per trailer mile.”

Visualizing the trends around mileage has reinforced what NFI thought they knew about their yearly averages. Now they can take it a step further by understanding even more about each trailer mile; for instance, knowing how much cargo weight is sitting atop the trailer bogie or how often the trailer has an active ABS fault or light-out.

Predictive Maintenance Protects Resources and Reputation

Mechanical roadside repairs are four times as expensive as repairs made at the shop. Breakdowns put drivers at risk, delay deliveries for customers, take equipment out of commission, and create logistical tangles for operations. The ability to cut unplanned maintenance costs is a welcome technological advancement within the trailer industry.

Predictive maintenance has the ability to drastically reduce all of these headaches, and with FleetPulse integrated into your trailer you can get ahead of risks to your drivers, equipment and customer satisfaction.

FleetPulse can help take your maintenance strategy to the next level.

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