Wadhams Drive for Five: Measuring & Managing Maintenance Cost Per Mile

Along with fuel consumption, maintenance cost per mile is an area in which transportation companies have a reasonable degree of control — where behavioral and process changes can have a real impact on fleet reliability and keeping costs low for customers. It’s also relatively easy to track the maintenance per mile cost, making it easier to identify problem areas and evaluate the efficacy of the strategies we implement.

Why It Matters

On average, it costs approximately $800,000 per year to operate a truck in the U.S.A., with maintenance costs accounting for about 10% of that figure. To the extent that these costs are associated with regular scheduled maintenance and repairs, they are sound investments. On the other hand, roadside assistance and out-of-terminal repairs are extremely expensive. Reducing these, through regular inspections and preventative maintenance, can go a long way toward curtailing overall operational expenses.

The Challenges

While the importance of regular preventative maintenance is well known, it can be difficult to show how the benefits of thorough inspections are well worth the investment of time required to execute them. Drivers and maintenance teams need to understand the importance and be willing to participate in preventative maintenance.

Analysis & Diagnosis

Electronic Logging Devices (ELDs) and on-board logistics make it relatively easy to determine the biggest sources of issues in this area. As part of Wadhams’ “Drive for Five” discussions and consultations, we also asked drivers and maintenance technicians for their insights and feedback. Through this process we determined that there were inconsistencies in drivers’ pre-trip and post-trip inspections, and also room for more frequent and/or more thorough inspections on the part of our maintenance teams.

Concrete Steps: Improving Our Preventative Maintenance Routing

A company-wide plan was implemented to educate our staff on how to perform thorough pre- and post-trip inspections, and why they are so important. We emphasized their role in preventing breakdowns, and underscored the importance of taking the time to perform them properly – for our clients (who rely on on-time performance), for our company, and for drivers themselves (since roadside issues cut into their performance and slow them down). We also examined how we could improve the frequency of our regular scheduled preventative maintenance, and what changes could be made by our technicians to make them more comprehensive.

Because we’re in the process of adding diagnostic equipment to all of our trucks, we have a great deal of data on the types of maintenance problems that most regularly affect our fleet. This puts us in a very strong position to enact fruitful and effective change. Involving our drivers and maintenance technicians is a further step that provides better insight and perspective. It also helps get employees excited about the solutions we determine for addressing these problems. Many hands, in that sense, really do lighten the load.