Fleetsoft Blog And Latest News

Fleetsoft Blog and Latest News

Get The Big Picture With Process Flowcharting

9/23/14




“Why are you entering shop repair orders that way?”

“Why are you re-ordering those parts now?”

These may be questions you have been asked as a fleet manager and responded, “That is the way we have always done it.”

Frequently, fleet maintenance shops fall into a routine that was established years or decades ago. This routine or work flow process may no longer make sense due to new technology, modifications to the job or department responsibilities, changes in human resources and many more variables. Periodically, it is good practice to take a step back and re-evaluate the current shop work flow process looking for areas to improve and increase productivity in the shop.

The easiest way to outline and thoroughly understand the current fleet maintenance shop work flow process is to create a Process Flowchart. A process flowchart maps out all of the steps involved in a process in sequential order from start to finish. Process flowcharts provide a better understanding of the current work flow process enabling you to…

  • Have a clear understanding for all peopled involved in the process

  • Identify duplication of efforts

  • Find bottlenecks

  • Find time and material wasters

  • Define process boundaries

  • Illustrate inefficiencies

  • Identify opportunities to eliminate routine errors

  • Identify opportunities to streamline and shorten routine paths

  • Troubleshoot an existing problem

  • Promote teamwork and communication

The steps to create a Process Flowchart are as follows:

  1. Define the work flow process to be charted

  2. Determine the scope of the process (start and finish)

  3. List activities/tasks

  4. Identify decision points and “ if/then” steps

  5. Arrange activities/tasks in sequential order

  6. Show flow of process (drawing directional arrows)

  7. Review and analyze

  8. Validate

Creating a process flowchart is a team effort. All people involved should provide input on their current tasks to ensure an accurate representation of the process is drawn. Once the maintenance shop process flowchart is completed, it needs to be analyzed to determine if there are any improvements to be made and then validate the improvements.

The process flowchart can provide a big picture of the maintenance shop operations to the fleet manager helping to identify areas where new technology may replace an activity, tasks that are no longer necessary and other areas of inefficiencies that need to be addressed to improve operations.

Repair Shop Management Simplified

8/18/14


Some smaller transportation companies must look to an outside source to maintain their fleet of trucks. Doing so, allows the fleet management team to avoid or delay the investment in shop facilities and to focus their attention on core business functions. Fleet Maintenance and Repair Shops are the perfect answer for some fleets’ quandary about how to keep their vehicles on the road without going into the maintenance and repair business themselves. Fleet Maintenance and Repair Shops can provide:

  • Highly trained personnel

  • High tech shop equipment

  • Enhanced parts availability and pricing

  • Flexible scheduling

  • Quicker repair turnaround

This arrangement allows each party to do what they do best…taking good care of their customers.

Fleet Maintenance and Repair Shops can perform preventive and corrective maintenance as well as emergency and onsite repairs to ensure the customer’s fleets have minimal downtime, increased reliability and longer life keeping the fleets on the road and not in the shop.

Truck Tracker fleet maintenance software can be a useful tool to Repair Shops in tracking each customer’s vehicle service and parts usage, warranty information, preventive maintenance, emergency repairs and invoicing. Truck Tracker also helps the maintenance repair shop manage parts inventory to ensure the parts needed for repairs are readily available.

Every time a part is added or a service is performed on a vehicle it is recorded in Truck Tracker. The repair shop has easy access to all service and parts history for each vehicle along with work order details.

Warranties can be recorded for vehicles and parts. When a service is scheduled to be performed on a vehicle that falls under warranty coverage, the shop technician is notified immediately. The same holds true if a part being replaced on a vehicle is under warranty, the technician is instantly notified. The warranty warnings in Truck Tracker help the shop claim warranties and save the customer money on repairs.

A Preventive Maintenance Schedule (PM Schedule) can be set up for each of the customer’s vehicles or group of vehicles. When preventive maintenance is coming due, the customer can be automatically notified via e-mail through Truck Tracker and the repair shop can schedule the service in advance providing a more expedient service to the customer.

While a repair order is opened in Truck Tracker for a vehicle to be serviced, notification of outstanding PM’s due will be provided immediately to the repair shop so the preventive maintenance may be scheduled and performed while the vehicle is in the shop saving the customer repeat trips.

If a problem is found during a PM inspection, corrective maintenance can be performed immediately preventing smaller problems from becoming larger ones and minimizing vehicle downtime.

Emergency repairs can be easily handled by the repair shop in Truck Tracker. An operator of a vehicle notifies the company of a problem that has been observed. The company then proceeds to call the repair shop for an emergency repair. The repair shop can make a note of the vehicle problem in Truck Tracker’s Reported Problems module and then create a repair order once the source of the problem has been identified and an emergency repair is performed. By recording a reported problem for a vehicle in Truck Tracker, the shop will have complete information on…

  • How often emergency repairs occur

  • Number of times same repair has been performed

  • Emergency repair common to similar Makes and Models

  • Emergency repair common to operator (driver)

...for a vehicle, the fleet and operators of the vehicles allowing the repair shop to provide useful data to the company for further analysis.

Within Truck Tracker, Maintenance repair shops can efficiently generate a customer invoice for services rendered and parts used and e-mail the invoice directly to the customer or print out a hard copy to hand to the customer. Specific labor rates, parts markup percentages, tax types and tax rates can be attributed to each customer. Once a customer is assigned to an invoice their rates will be automatically applied.

When a repair shop is scheduling maintenance and repairs for a customer’s vehicle, they can prepare, beforehand, to have the parts in stock that are required to complete the job using Truck Tracker’s Parts Assembly feature. A list of parts required to perform a specific service can be built based off unit Year, Make and Model. This list is easily accessible within the Truck Tracker repair order.

Also with Truck Tracker, placing parts orders to the supplier is an absolute breeze. Once the shop has prepared its list of needed parts, a Purchase Order can be generated from the list and be e-mailed to the supplier from within the software program. If the parts are ordered from a Navistar dealer, the packing slip will contain a Truck Tracker-compatible bar code so that checking the parts into and out of inventory is virtually error-free.

When parts are checked out of inventory to a Work Order, some bar code labels are designed to be pulled off the part or out of the part bin and to be affixed to the back of the Work Order hard copy. When the work order is closed, all of the parts used in the repair are simply scanned from the back of the Work Order and made a permanent part of the repair record.

Being proactive in your customer’s needs, providing better customer service, minimizing vehicle downtime and increasing the life expectancy of the vehicles will help you gain a competitive advantage over other repair shops. Truck Tracker is just the tool to help you accomplish this!

Fine Tuning your Parts Inventory

7/14/14

“One extra part on our inventory shelves is one part TOO MANY!”. This ought to be the battle cry of fleet operations managers everywhere, whatever you’re hauling freight or school kids.

Business owners don’t venture into the transportation business to operate a repair shop or manage maintain a parts inventory. These critical activities are just a necessary part of a much larger picture. However, if you don’t pay attention to them, they can eventually hurt your bottom line!

Let’s look at your maintenance and repair parts inventory: How many idle parts do you have just sitting there on your shelves? Inevitably, despite your best efforts, your parts inventory has grown over time and will continue to grow with excess and obsolete/inactive maintenance and repair parts.

What’s the story with excess parts? Well, run out of a particular part in the shop just when you need it enough times and instead of re-ordering the two or three that you might actually need, your guy orders a whole bunch of them. There! That’ll fix the problem! I won’t run out of those again! Of course, it’s not how many you order that will fix the problem. The answer is to order the absolute minimum at the right time to keep you from running out. With technology, this is now possible.

Let’s look at the obsolete parts problem. You have inventory on hand for certain makes and/or models of a vehicle. When you trade your older vehicles, you don’t return to your supplier all of the vehicle-specific maintenance and repair parts for the traded vehicles. Over time, this stuff adds up.

This excess and obsolete inventory is useless to you! It’s just sitting there:

  • Tying-up your capital
  • Taking-up valuable space
  • Eating-up payroll time to periodically count it and record it
  • Turning your stock room into a virtual junk pile

OK! So, what can you do about it? How can you free-up the money you have invested in this useless inventory and move that money directly to your bottom line?

First, you have to identify this useless stuff and to do that, you need some good data. Don’t worry if you don’t have all of this information at your fingertips. This is the kind of stuff that the Truck Tracker Maintenance & Inventory Management program will produce, record and organize for your analysis.

You’ll need to know, on a part number basis:

  • What you have in inventory
  • What you have paid for your inventory
  • What the demand-trend for this inventory has been
  • What your re-order rules are for your parts inventory
    • How your re-order point is determined
    • How your re-order quantity is determined

Without good data, you probably don’t stand a chance of identifying the extent of your useless inventory or changing what you’ve been doing in an effort to prevent a re-occurrence.

Truck Tracker to the rescue! With the tools built into the Truck Tracker parts inventory management program, over time you can build a good data set to help you fine tune your parts re-order calculations by:

  • Automatically determining the trend of the demand for each part number in your inventory over a 90-day period. Is the demand trend increasing or decreasing over time as with a seasonal item or is it static? Truck Tracker calculates a 30-day weighted-average demand-trend number. This is a key component of you re-order calculation.

  • Allowing you to modify the 30-day weighted-average demand number to match your supplier’s normal delivery time after receiving your order, thus specifying the exact number of days-supply you want to keep on hand for each part number based on your actual demand-trend and your supplier’s delivery performance.

With Truck Tracker, you’re working with facts and not “guesstimates”. Truck Tracker gives you the data and tools you need to be able to successfully manage your parts inventory. Here’s your payoff:

  • Optimum stocking levels- Using Truck Tracker’s unique demand calculations will keep your inventory levels at an on-going “Goldilocks” level. Not too many. Not too few. Just right!

  • Excess inventory reporting- Running a report in Truck Tracker for all inventoried part numbers with an on-hand quantity in excess of the trend-based recommended stocking quantities will identify your excess inventory items by quantity and dollar value. These parts are candidates for return to your suppliers.

  • Obsolete/inactive inventory reporting- Running a report in Truck Tracker for all inventoried part numbers with no movement for your specified time period will identify your obsolete/inactive inventory items by quantity and dollar value. These parts, also, are candidates for return to your suppliers.

And here’s a word of advice. To some, all of this may seem a bit daunting. Yes there is some work involved. It will take time and some effort to get your inventory under control. But the payoff can be huge. It’s not unusual to have our fleet customers tell us that after using the management tools in Truck Tracker for a month or two, they were able to reduce their inventory dollars by 20% to 30% without running themselves out of needed inventory.

I heard someone, one time, telling a story to make a point. It was about a guy who was in such a hurry to get his firewood cut that he didn’t have time to stop and sharpen his axe. Every once in a while, probably all of us could benefit by stopping what we’re doing, looking at how we’ve been doing things and questioning how we could be doing things better.

  • Could we be smarter about how we manage our parts?
  • Are there tried and true methods out there that could save us money and improve our through-put time?
  • Is it time to employ technology to help us?
  • Is it time to sharpen that axe?

If we always do what we always did, we’ll always get what we always got!

Safety First

7/14/2014

Wouldn't you agree that the primary concern for all parents, school administrators and school bus companies is the safety of the students as they are transported to and from school and school related activities? Around 480,000 school buses are on the road transporting approximately 25 million students daily. According to the National Association of State Directors of Pupil Transportation Services, school buses make approximately 10 billion student trips in an average school year. Comprehensive PM Schedules, Inspections and Employee Training helps to ensure that the children are safe with minimal incidents during the 10 billion trips annually. School buses are the safest mode of transportation on the road today. The NHTSA reported the fatality rate every 100 million miles for school buses was 0.2 and for passenger vehicles it was 8 times higher.

Each state establishes PM schedules, inspection requirements and driver mandates that schools and school bus companies located in that state must follow to ensure pupil safety.

A PM scheduling program will reduce breakdown costs, component damage and the amount of time a bus is out of service while increasing the students' safety. PM schedules are set up by days, miles/kms and hours of operation parameters. Regularly scheduled PMs will catch many component parts' failures before they occur helping to increase the safety of your bus fleet while in operation and reducing breakdown costs.

School Bus breakdowns incur costs in towing, repairs, loss of classroom time for students and safety of students. These additional expenses should be avoided if at all possible. FleetSoft's Truck Tracker fleet maintenance software has a comprehensive PM Scheduling system to assist the bus fleet shop in creating PM schedules for each unit or unit groups and managing these schedules. Alerts and reports are generated in Truck Tracker when the buses PMs are approaching the PM due date giving the fleet manager notice in advance to schedule the maintenance. Truck Tracker's PM Scheduling program keeps detailed service and part record history for each unit providing the manager with information to view trends for specific parts or products used and an ongoing analysis of the fleet's operational costs and bus' performance.

Federal law requires drivers to make a pre-trip inspection of the buses...

  • Steering System
  • Parking Brake
  • Service Brakes
  • Tires
  • Wheels
  • Lights and Reflectors
  • Horn
  • Windshield Wipers
  • Mirrors
  • Emergency Equipment

Each state has established its own bus inspection guidelines in addition to the Federal requirements to be performed daily, monthly and annually. The daily inspections are often performed by the drivers. The monthly and annual inspections are set up as a PM and performed by the fleet shop technicians or state officials. When a potential problem is noticed by a driver while conducting a daily inspection or during the day's operation, they will report the issue and bring it to the attention of the maintenance shop for repair or further investigation. Truck Tracker contains a Reported Problem module where the drivers can identify and record a potential hazard found, alerting the fleet manager and maintenance shop immediately via e-mail, reminder dashboard or report generation. This process prevents the outstanding problem to go unnoticed and allows it to be resolved in a short period of time ensuring the safety of the students and reducing bus breakdown occurrences and costs.

To secure the school bus passengers safety, the drivers have to meet certain training, licenses, certifications and physical examination requirements determined by each state. It is critical for the schools and school bus companies to keep detailed and up to date records on each of the driver's training, licenses, certifications and physicals to avoid hefty fines or potential law suits. Truck Tracker simplifies the driver record keeping and prevents the possibility of a driver's training, licenses, certifications and physicals escaping notice and expiring with the e-mail reminders and dashboard alerts it provides. By using Truck Tracker's Employee module complete data files are recorded for each employee and easily accessible should the driver come under close scrutiny.

Truck Tracker fleet maintenance software can help bus fleets meet inspection requirements, driver regulations and maintenance specifications set by the state to ensure bus, driver and pupil safety. You will find that using a fleet maintenance software program to manage a bus fleet will help decrease the number of emergency repairs and breakdowns, increase safety and service while reducing the cost of operation. The safety of the students and buses far outweigh the costs. Make those 10 billion trips annually safe ones!

Save up to 20% by Recovering Warranty Costs

5/2/14

Tracking warranties on your fleet and parts can result in significant savings in operational costs. According to Eaton, warranty costs can be as much as 8-20% of repair costs. Warranty tracking directly impacts repair costs, extends life of unit and provides feedback to the OEMs.

The purchase price of vehicles, equipment and parts usually has warranty costs included. Since the warranty costs have been paid for, it only makes sense to recover as much of the cost as possible through warranty claims. Knowing when a service or part is under warranty at the time of performing the service or replacing the part can help in recovering the cost.

Warranty claims provide useful information to OEMs as well. Claims serve as indicators to what products need to be improved to better serve the customers in the future.

Warranty work on a piece of equipment or vehicle is usually outsourced by an authorized provider saving the shop in overhead costs and providing a higher return on investment. By outsourcing warranty work, the shop saves on the costs of…

  • Training people to perform warranty work according to specifications

  • Allocating tech resources to warranty work instead of PM and other ongoing repairs

  • Providing administrators for management of the warranty programs for multiple OEM warranties, policies and procedures.

If you should have the resources to perform the warranty work in house, Truck Tracker allows the technician to document the specific warranty services performed with the actual hours and cost. This detailed information in Truck Tracker can be used to submit a request for compensation from the OEM.

Since warranties have a considerable effect on a fleet’s operation costs, resource allocation and safety, it only makes sense to track it closely. FleetSoft’s Truck Tracker fleet maintenance software program makes it easy for the fleet manager to keep on top of potential warranty claims for the vehicles, equipment and parts with the following features…

  1. Warranty warnings at time of performing a service or replacing a part

    1. Vehicles/Equipment services based off days, meter 1 or meter 2 parameters

    2. Parts replacement defined by days and meter 1 parameters

    3. Core Tracking and Core Credits

  2. Warranty Claim Reports for parts and services

  3. Vehicle Warranty List Report

  4. Detailed information on vehicle specs, repairs and current meter for warranty claim filing

  5. Detailed parts usage history – date parts used, current meter and other details of usage record for warranty claim filing

  6. Report of warranty work performed

Truck Tracker fleet maintenance software can play a key role in identifying possible warranty claims and help in recovering a significant amount of the cost. As a bonus, Truck Tracker’s many Services Performed, Parts Usage, Warranty Claims and Vehicle Cost Reports provide the Fleet Manager with data to determine which vehicle make and/or model, part(s) and components are unreliable, lower quality and more expensive to use. This allows for important decisions to be made in controlling a fleet’s operation costs.

Hosted v.s. In-House? Which Is The Best Solution For You?

In order to answer this question, you need to take a few items into consideration. Once you have answered the following questions, you will be better equipped to determine which solution is the best fit for you.

  1. Required hardware infrastructure in place to support the software solution?
  2. Accessibility to the necessary human resources to manage the software solution?
  3. High-speed internet connectivity availability?
  4. Customization to the software desired?
  5. Integration with other applications desired?

Fleetsoft fleet maintenance software is offered as both a Hosted Solution and an In-House server/client install solution.

The Hosted Solution makes Fleetsoft more affordable to small businesses that do not have the infrastructure or IT resources to implement and manage the software themselves.

The In-House Solution may be the preferred option if you have IT staff, or a relationship with an IT consulting firm. The In-House solution provides more flexibility in the implementation and design of the software solution to fit specific needs. The advantages and disadvantages to an In-House Solution need to be considered when deciding whether to go with this option.

Each option has advantages as well as limitations to consider before you purchase. Both need to be taken into consideration when deciding which one is the more viable option for you.

HOSTED SOLUTION ADVANTAGES:

  1. No Hardware Required: Fleetsoft manages the infrastructure, providing 24/7 access, data backups, and disaster recovery.

  2. No IT Resources Required: Software updates and future upgrades automatically installed, and support is available.

  3. Smaller Upfront Investment: Broken down into smaller monthly payments per user, you can begin using the hosted solution at a fraction of the full price of an in-house solution.

  4. Scalable and Ready to Go: Accessible from any location with internet access, from a single user to a large number of users simultaneously, the application automatically scales to fit your needs.

HOSTED SOLUTION DISADVANTAGES:

  1. No Customization or Integration: In some cases, without local access to the software, you cannot integrate with other desktop applications.

  2. Reliance on High Speed Internet: Bandwidth issues and outages are rare, but they can potentially effect your ability to access your critical data in real time.

  3. Bandwidth could affect performance of application

IN-HOUSE ADVANTAGES:

  1. No Internet Required: You can run the software locally or on a private network without leaving your own perimeter.

  2. Integration Options: Easier to interface between Fleetsoft data and third party applications.

  3. More Control: You have ultimate control over security and performance of the application.

IN-HOUSE DISADVANTAGES:

  1. Hardware Required: Investment in servers as well as networking equiptment could be required.

  2. IT Resources Required: Software must be installed, updated, and supported by internal resources.

  3. Higher Upfront Licensing Cost: A full one-time payment is required to purchase the in-house solution.

  4. Planning for Scalability: Accessing the software from multiple locations outside your network is something you will have to deal with on your own.

Our goal is to make Fleetsoft software accessible to everyone, breaking down existing barriers. By providing two purchasing options to fulfill the needs of both small businesses with limited resources as well as larger companies with unlimited resources and their varied needs, FleetSoft moves closer towards that goal.