Preventative Maintenance Vs. Corrective Maintenance

What if a police officer was on his way to a crime scene, and his car suddenly broke down due to something totally preventable, like a worn tire, broken belt, or no oil due to a leak or human error? He could be stranded on the side of the road, and a victim could be left waiting longer for help. All for an issue that could have – and should have – been repaired during a routine inspection.

This is an example of why preventative maintenance is essential.

In a recent episode of “The Fleet Success Show,” podcast hosts Josh Turley, Jeff Jenkins, and Steve Saltzgiver discussed why it is crucial to prioritize preventative maintenance over corrective maintenance.

What is Preventative Maintenance?

First of all, what is preventative maintenance (PM)? This refers to scheduled maintenance, or when a vehicle is brought into the shop for routine, preventative work, such as an inspection, oil change, a safety recall, warranty campaign, repainting, and other planned work.

This is different from corrective maintenance, where the work is unscheduled. This can occur when a vehicle breaks down on a route and needs to come into the shop for a repair to be functional again.

Benefits of PM

PM services benefit your fleet because you can plan for them to ensure you are staffed appropriately, have an open bay in the shop for the vehicle, and have the needed parts on hand.

To run efficiently, shops should strive to have PM services make up the majority of their work. To determine where your fleet is at, you can run a report in your fleet management software application to see what percentage of work is PM, and what percentage is corrective.

Steve, who previously ran government and private fleets, said the goal is to get as close to 80% PM as possible – with most fleets falling typically between 65-75%.

“Your goal is to minimize breakdowns,” Steve said. “The more you can become proactive, the more you can group that data. For example, if you’re using the priority codes – is it scheduled, is it unscheduled, is it an emergency? You want to make sure the bulk of what you’re doing is scheduled because scheduled saves money.”

Who should be doing the PMs?

To get the biggest benefit out of performing preventative maintenance, it’s important to have the right mechanics perform the inspections.

Our podcast hosts revealed that in a lot of cases, shops might put the lowest-ranking tech on PMs to free up the more experienced mechanics for larger repairs. However, this may be the wrong approach. Jeff, who has more than 20 years of experience in the trucking industry, suggests putting your most thorough mechanic on PMs – or at least someone with experience performing inspections. They will know what to look for based on previous experience and will conduct a detailed vehicle inspection.

How can fleets improve their PM ratio?

Knowing that your shop needs to improve its preventative maintenance program is one thing – actually doing it can be a lot more difficult.

Our hosts had some advice on how to get started.

“You have to start with making sure you have that thorough inspection,” Jeff said.

This means that you need to make PM about more than just changing the oil filter. You need to use an inspection checklist that technicians must follow when performing preventative maintenance. When creating this checklist, you can start with the general OEM list, and then customize it based on your fleet’s needs.

Jeff and Steve also recommend managing the techs who are performing the PMs.

Jeff previously experienced mechanics not marking items as defects during an inspection because they didn’t have time to repair them. Steve also discovered mechanics skipping items on their checklist to finish the inspection faster. To prevent this, Steve started doing random spot-checks. He picked items on the list and double-checked to see if the mechanic overlooked any defects. He used the results to hold his technicians accountable.

To prevent technicians from cutting corners, Steve recommends splitting the work by having one person perform the inspection and someone else complete the repairs. This way there is no temptation to underreport defects due to time constraints.

In addition to these tips, Josh also suggests making sure your fleet information management system has the functionality to pull reports documenting which vehicles are due for PM. It should also have the ability to create a checklist and enter the name of the technician who is performing the inspection.

While setting up an organized PM program can take time, our hosts say it’s worth it. Increasing your ratio of preventative maintenance to corrective maintenance tasks can make your shop more efficient and can even save you money.

To get more tips about how to improve the preventative maintenance program at your shop, listen to the full episode of “The Fleet Success Show.”

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