Outsourcing Your Maintenance

Approximately one-third of all Florida transportation providers outsource all of their preventive maintenance and repairs to privately owned facilities.  Some agencies that outsource all of their maintenance do not have a maintenance manager in place whose sole responsibility is to manage the vehicle fleet.  Many times, those who are acting as maintenance manager also have other job duties within the agency.  Fortunately, it does not take a maintenance expert to manage a vehicle fleet.  There are many tools provided by our program to assist with these tasks.

When utilizing outsource maintenance, it is imperative that your agency set up standards for the maintenance technicians to follow when performing routine preventive maintenance inspections and repairs.  These standards should be outlined in a way that ensures each party is aware of their responsibilities relating to the preventive maintenance practices at hand.

There are two simple ways you can provide these standards for the garage mechanics to follow.  The first way would be to provide them with a copy of the Preventative Maintenance Standards Manual that was created jointly by the PrMPT program and FDOT.  This handbook gives detailed instructions on how to perform preventative maintenance inspections by providing the mileage intervals that each item of the inspection should be checked and discussing how to locate defects.

Another way to provide standards for your local garage mechanics is to initiate a Preventative Maintenance Service Agreement, which is a contract between your transportation agency and the local garage performing the preventative maintenance inspections.  This Service Agreement outlines the responsibilities of each party in how the preventative maintenance inspections will be scheduled, performed and paid for.

The PrMPT program has also developed a PM inspection tracking spreadsheet to assist with ensuring that all inspections are performed on time.  The spreadsheet should be updated weekly with each vehicle’s current mileage.  The spreadsheet will show which type of inspection is due next and how many more miles remain until the inspection is due.  This will aid with scheduling the inspections in a timely manner.  There are also additional forms provided by our program to assist with organizational tasks, such as Road Call Log forms, Work Order forms and Maintenance Budget Tracking spreadsheets.  If you need any assistance with implementing any of these forms or spreadsheets, please contact our office.  Many times we will assist an agency with setting up the spreadsheets and they are returned to the agency ready for implementation.

Perhaps one of the most important ways to manage a vehicle fleet whose maintenance is outsourced is to develop good quality assurance habits.  You do not have to inspect the vehicles to develop good quality assurance habits.  Most of these habits include analyzing work orders, repair receipts, preventative maintenance inspection checklists, post-trip inspection reports, and road call logs.  If you can set aside one day at the end of the month to cross-reference that month’s paperwork, it will help you effectively manage your vehicle fleet.  Here are some things you should look for:

  1. Check your work orders and repair receipts for repeat repairs.  Sometimes when an item is repaired, you may find the same item was repaired some months before.  This may require looking further back than just that month’s paperwork.  There are several reasons why this may occur:  a) the replacement part is faulty; b) there is an undiagnosed problem causing the same part to fail; c) the repair may not have been made correctly the first time.  Ideally, you should be able to catch the repeat repair before it is made by checking your records before you authorize the repair to be made.  Unfortunately, due to time restraints that is not always possible.  No matter what the reason for the repeat repair, you should always ask questions.  The repair garage may be at fault for charging you for the repeat repair.  If after speaking to the garage you are not satisfied with the results, you may want to determine whether or not to continue doing business with them.
  2. Compare your repair receipts to your preventative maintenance inspection checklists.  Do you think the item(s) repaired should have been caught prior to its failure by the technician performing the inspection?  Again, do not be afraid to ask questions.
  3. Analyze road call logs for the month.  Are there excessive road calls?  After checking the repair receipt related to the road call, do you feel that your drivers or the garage technician should have noticed that the part was going bad before the in-service failure occurred?  Many times, a part will show signs of trouble before it fails.  Was this noted in the drivers’ post-trip inspection report?  Was there a recent preventative maintenance inspection where it should have been noted?

These are just a few ways to begin implementing good quality assurance methods.  When you know which questions to ask, you will be able to establish maintenance patterns and will gain more knowledge about managing your fleet.  If you have any questions, or need any further assistance with outsourcing procedures, you may contact our office for guidance.