To date, predictive maintenance has focused heavily on critical vehicle systems: Engines, transmissions, components with system data that is monitored by the vehicle’s Electronic Control Module, or ECM. Temperature and other key factors are monitored by the ECM, which is then reported on through telematics devices to look for variations that could indicate eminent failure. Addressing potential issues before they become catastrophic is vital for the safety of the drivers as well as minimizing vehicle downtime to maximize operational revenue.
However, what about the devices that are monitoring these systems? Predictive maintenance is reliant upon data. Data the vehicle is sending to telematics systems and reliant on those systems to relay the data. And what about the other functionality? Telematics are used not just for relaying vehicle data, they log Hours of Service (HOS), manage routes, what happens when these devices aren’t communicating properly?
Through programs like VelociCare, fleets are realizing the importance of monitoring the equipment responsible for monitoring the vehicles. These programs tag key parameters to look for breakdowns in communication, either between the vehicle to the device or the device to the fleet manager, or other personnel responsible for overseeing the health of the vehicles on the road. By monitoring these key parameters, it’s possible to catch data transmission gaps that would lead to the loss of ELD HOS log data, or vehicle breakdowns from late or lost warnings.
Most fleets have preventative maintenance programs in place, either through internal maintenance staff or external partners, that focus almost exclusively on the traditional mission-critical components such as engines, tires, brakes, etc. When issues do arise with in-cab technology, internal resources are often not trained to troubleshoot and/or repair the systems, which often vary from vehicle to vehicle. They also may not have replacement inventory for the on-board technologies. Or if they do, it may not be located where the system needs to be repaired. And even if they have the training and inventory, do they have the scheduling bandwidth to get the system back to health? Without a plan in place, time and money are lost.
In today’s technology rich environment, fleets not only need predictive maintenance, they need system health monitoring to endure the programs tasked with predicting failure haven’t themselves started to fail. They also need a process in place to address needed repairs quickly. Proactive system health monitoring avoids costly downtime due to system failure, ensures systems are operating optimally and allows them to do the job you expect of them. Technology providers have brought incredible solutions to our industry, and by proactively monitoring them, fleet owners can keep those solutions and their fleets, happy and healthy with reliable and accurate predictive maintenance.
Written By: Deryk Powell, President