10,608. That’s the number of work orders the City of Norfolk Fleet Management completed while I served as fleet manager during fiscal year 2017. I’ll be the first to admit that our ratio of scheduled to unscheduled work orders was nowhere near where it needed to be, but it was a work in progress.
61,017, that’s the number of work orders completed by City of Nashville Fleet Management between February 1, 2015 and January 31, 2017 as shown by a recent audit.1 That’s quite a bit of work. But you know what else that is? That’s a lot of time.
As any good manager knows, process improvement is always on the top of your mind. Where are the efficiencies hiding? How can we take a process with an average completion time of 55 minutes and make it a 51 minute process? A 49 minute process? All without sacrificing quality of work.
One of my favorite examples of continuous improvement is illustrated quite well by Steve Saltzgiver with Mercury Associates. Mercury Associates is a fleet management consulting firm that provides technical assistance to fleets in the US and around the world. Saltzgiver demonstrates a Preventative Maintenance (PM) mapping process workflow and shows how to make that process more efficient. As Saltzgiver writes, “Shops can significantly improve their scheduled maintenance programs by streamlining the preventive maintenance inspection step-by-step sequence to remove non-value-added waste. This is best achieved by using a tool called ‘value stream mapping,’ coupled with an illustration”2 as shown below.
Now let’s talk specifically about tires and the PM process.
Let’s assume that the City of Nashville fleet crew performed tire checks on about half of the total 61,017 work orders…. so that’s 30,508 tire checks performed. In addition, it’s worth noting that the audit of the City of Nashville Fleet Management found that “Tires, Tubes, Liners, and Valves” was by far the most common type of work order completed. Assuming each of those 30,508 tire checks included a visual inspection, tire pressure check, tread depth measurement, and the follow-on recording of those findings into a Fleet Management Information System (FMIS), and took an average of 5 minutes to complete, that’s 152,540 minutes, or 2,542 hours, doing tire checks. At an hourly technician rate of $25/hr not including benefits, that $63,550.
Were those 2,542 hours (or $63,550) well spent over those 2 years? Who knows. Was recording that data even valuable if you can’t use it for reporting? And that’s assuming you even have an FMIS report focusing on tires! Was any of that data reliable? After all, we do all know how unreliable manually-recorded fuel mileage has been during fuel transactions.
Even with Saltzgiver’s Picasso-like illustration on process improvement, he still recommends ongoing revisions to the process. “Shop management,” he says, “must invest time in updating and revising inspection checklists, technician training programs, shop policies and procedures, standard repair timetables, and data capture methods to reflect the newly optimized PMI program changes from the value stream mapping event.”3
I’ll propose one process improvement. Imagine you could take a significant amount of work out of tire checks by automating that process. Better yet – what if your tires were continuously monitored between shop visits so that even tire issues that are impossible to identify with the naked eye can be highlighted and identified for further investigation?
A good tire check in the shop can help reduce tire problems when you’re lucky enough to catch them. But all bets are off when your vehicles are out on the roads. Even a highly attentive driver who performs scrupulous pre and post trip inspections can’t catch everything. After all, try asking a fleet manager the level of confidence they have in tire checks being performed during pre and post trip inspections. I’ve asked, and I usually get a good laugh out of it. Tire problems happen in between shop visits, not in your shop. Have eyes on your tires in between shop visits. Be Proactive! Check out Revvo’s Tire Management Platform!