In any trucking fleet a truck breakdown causes the most disruption, both for the workshop, in handling an unexpected task, and for the operation, in ensuring service to the customer. A recent study into the issue by Volvo suggests up to 80 per cent of all, what it calls, ‘unplanned truck standstills’ are preventable through improved truck maintenance. Volvo says it has set a long term plan to eradicate breakdowns altogether.
“Since the transport industry already operates with very small margins, an unplanned standstill hits haulage firms hard,” said Hayder Wokil, Volvo’s Director Quality and Uptime. “We therefore have to be better at understanding why unplanned stops take place and help both customers and drivers increase their productivity and thus also their profitability.”
The company conducted a survey, based on real-life user data from 3500 Volvo trucks gathered over a five year period. Using the data gained Volvo conducted simulations and generated a variety of possible service situations to analyse how, why and when trucks suffer breakdowns.
“The study clearly showed that by being able to monitor the truck’s usage and the current status of the vehicle’s various key components, it is possible to plan maintenance better,” said Wokil. “We reckon we can reduce the number of unplanned standstills by 80 per cent if the truck is serviced in time and in response to actual needs.”
According to Volvo, a prerequisite for reducing the number of breakdowns is to be able to predict maintenance needs and to tailor servicing for each individual truck. This is now possible since today’s trucks can be connected online to the workshop.
“For instance, a service technician can remotely monitor exactly how the truck is being used in real time, schedule maintenance well in advance before something breaks down, or order spare parts in advance,” said Wokil. “What’s more, a scheduled service can also be postponed if the workshop technician can see that the truck’s various components are subject to less wear than expected, thus saving time for both the haulage firm and the driver.”
The study found the average cost of a breakdown in Europe cost the transport company $1750. This includes direct costs such as towing and repairs, administrative fees, any fines involved, and lost transport revenue, but not costs in the form of lost cargo or lost income owing to loss of goodwill.