Predictive maintenance to avoid unpredictable trailer repairs

Predictive maintenance to avoid unpredictable trailer repairs - TIP

For many years fleet managers have relied on calendars or mechanical breakdowns to decide when to maintain their trailers. In a highly competitive transport market with low-profit margins, a maintenance strategy which includes predictive maintenance can maximise your trailer uptime and so deliver competitive advantage.

A trailer broken down by the roadside is a safety hazard to your driver and vehicle and other road users. Breakdowns can be costly in terms of unexpected repairs and loss of fleet productivity. A well-planned maintenance strategy also prolongs trailer working lifetime and reduces overall maintenance costs.

McKinsey’s 2017 report “Artificial Intelligence: The Next Digital Frontier” predicts that artificial intelligence will prompt a switch from “preventative” to “predictive” maintenance in the future. What are these concepts and where are we now?


Predictive maintenance trailer

Predictive maintenance “takes years of data from a wide variety of trucks and aggregates it to predict how much potential there is for an upcoming failure for particular components” and prompt fleet managers to take action. This process was traditionally limited to human intervention and manual reporting tools. However, now technology exists to analyse potential failures from real-time information communicated from your truck and trailer and automate what were formerly manual processes. [source: Fleet Equipment Magazine]

Increasingly our clients are opting for “predictive maintenance” programmes, which take advantage of a variety of technologies including telematics. The remote diagnostic software is available on many trailers and trucks today, feeding live information to fleet managers.

Real-time data generated by today’s trailers and trucks can reveal a lot about their condition: from fuel consumption, speed driven, tyre pressure and overloads to cooling temperatures. Typically, the software integrates this data with information provided by the trailer’s original equipment manufacturer which describes what to expect in terms of component wear and tear under various mileage, weather and usage scenarios.  Additional information comes from historic data generated by other similar trailers in your fleet.

Data is converted into algorithms by the predictive maintenance software to build a sophisticated picture of the maintenance required to avoid unforeseen issues. For example, predictive maintenance can help fleet managers decode when to replace a worn-out turbo, renew the exhaust system or service the reefer unit to prevent a possible breakdown.

Cost benefits

Predictive maintenance repairs systems before problems develop and lead to unexpectedly high costs. Predictive maintenance at a predictable cost allows you to rotate your fleet to reduce repair frequency across all trailers and level-load your maintenance workshop.  You no longer need to hold a large spare parts inventory and simply order parts on a “just in time” basis, saving costs and warehouse space.

Jennifer Roubaud of Dataiku wrote a blog on Fleetnews on the benefits of predictive maintenance and cited the example of Traffilog America, a developer of predictive maintenance systems. They use it to monitor driver performance and safety as well as optimise delivery routes.  Traffilog America’s predictive maintenance software monitored a driving pedal position on a bus. Insights from the data generated resulted in the bus company adjusting pedal usage which saved its fleet an impressive 30% in fuel costs. For another company, predictive maintenance reduced brake pad replacement by 30%.


Preventative maintenance trailer

Many of our clients at TIP choose preventative maintenance.  The preventative maintenance approach is based on a maintenance schedule, often linked to manufacturers’ specifications. This might include changing the oil every three months or inspecting the tyres after five years’ use.  This is a good solution which we deliver for a pre-determined cost. It reduces unplanned repairs and interventions.


Predictive and preventative maintenance cocktail

The two styles of maintenance are not mutually exclusive. You could run a preventative maintenance programme through which you take your trailers in for a service and replace parts according to a pre-defined calendar. In parallel, you could use predictive maintenance to alert you to any maintenance and repairs that might need doing ahead of schedule.


Pay as you go

Whilst we offer predictive and preventive trailer maintenance programmes, sometimes “pay as you go” maintenance or repair will be the right solution. To minimise disruption, you might want to have your trailer serviced at a specific location on your delivery route. Your trailer could suffer a one-off mechanical issue on the road to Milan causing a potentially costly delay to your delivery and reputation. At TIP, we are exceptionally well placed to assist you in these situations, thanks to our pan-European maintenance and breakdown recovery service.  We have a network of over 70 workshops across 16 countries providing round the clock support, 365 days per year. With support provided in 18 national languages, our dedicated and experienced TIP staff will deliver roadside assistance to get your drivers back on the road as soon as possible.

We guarantee low cost, fixed rates through our local vendor agreements and fixed call out charges. You can monitor the progress of the servicing or repair online and simply “pay as you go” when you use the service. For more information on how TIP can provide you with “predictive,” “preventative” or “pay as you go” maintenance and repairs, please contact TIP using this form.

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