Maintenance and operations have separate functions but they share the same objective: maximize asset utilization. To accomplish this, the departments overlap when scheduling vehicles in for preventive maintenance (PM) and repair work.
Traditionally, a dispatcher or load planner waits for the maintenance department or drivers to notify him when a vehicle is due for service. This routine often leads to dispatchers scheduling vehicles to come in past their due date or during productive driving time.
A more efficient and effective way is to provide operations with instant visibility of maintenance needs. The largest companies that provide fleet maintenance management systems have already automated one of the steps in the process. The software interfaces with onboard computer and fuel card providers to gather vehicle mileages electronically.
TMW Systems, a developer of software for the transportation industry, recently announced a two-phase project that will take automation to the next level. The company is integrating its TMT Fleet Maintenance software product to its TMWSuite dispatch and IDSC optimization software products, says Scott Vanselous, senior vice president and general manager of the company’s Asset Maintenance organization.
The first phase of the product release, scheduled to be completed by year end, will be a dispatch oriented module that incorporates PM schedules into the dispatch planning screen of TMW Suite.
“If I’m a dispatcher, I will be able to see opportunities where I have dwell time with an asset. (Dwell time) would be matched with an opportunity to do prescheduled maintenance and repairs,” he says.
For the second phase, scheduled to be completed in the second half of 2010, TMW plans to integrate its TMT Fleet Maintenance software with its IDSC TripAlert product. Currently, TripAlert is a product that monitors vehicles and alerts fleet managers to out-of-route incidents. The plan is for maintenance and repair opportunities to be loaded into TripAlert and for the software to use an algorithm to determine when and where to schedule maintenance work.
The algorithm will consider a vehicle’s proximity to both company maintenance facilities and outside vendors. Drivers’ hours-of-service and other key factors will also be considered in the calculation, Vanselous says.
The optimization software will not be designed to execute its recommendations, however. A dispatcher would still need to contact the maintenance department or the recommended vendor to schedule a PM service, Vanselous says.