When it comes to trucking, it’s all about uptime. Keeping trucks on the road making deliveries is the top priority for all fleets. Volvo Trucks is hoping its new Blue Contract service offering will help fleets do just that.
According to Ashley Murickan, product marketing manager for safety and connected vehicles at Volvo, the new plan is a more comprehensive one, with more value bundled together, than previous plans the company offered.
Mike Furst, Volvo’s director of services and solutions, explains that what existed previously was “more of a cafeteria style option. You could have just oil and filter changes, or you could have a more comprehensive schedule that includes aftertreatment maintenance. You could cobble together a comprehensive plan. But we wanted to give fleets peace of mind about what needs to be done on the truck, so we put together the optimal maintenance service in one plan.”
Under the plan, every oil change includes a 74-point vehicle inspection, which includes safety checks. “Obviously, a well-maintained truck is a safe truck,” Murickan adds. “So, it is less prone to unforeseen breakdowns on the side of the road due to part failure and it minimizes exposure to any of those associated events.”
Fleets have to bring their trucks to Volvo dealers for the maintenance service, but Furst says that can be a benefit if during the inspection a problem is discovered that is covered by warranty.
“We think there is a benefit to having all the work done under one rooftop, whether it is covered under the contract, warranty work or customer pay,” he explains. With work being done at Volvo dealerships, Volvo has visibility into maintenance schedules and can facilitate scheduling and ensure needed parts are available — a big plus given today’s supply chain issues.
While Blue Contract may seem more costly upfront, Furst says, “we are not promoting it as the lowest-cost upfront option. We are really looking at the total cost of ownership.” Factors such as the downtime savings by pairing operations together with the oil drainage interval are part of the TCO equation.
“We are leveraging our dealer network and being able to check in and check out a truck quicker. We are working proactively to make sure the truck does not sit waiting for service.” Dwell time at the dealership is measured. Some fleets have service-level agreements on what that dwell time looks like, or how much shop time — the actual wrench time on the job. “We are using all those tools available to us and our dealers to facilitate that repair process, and that is what really drives that TCO,” he explains.
In addition, all the records of the maintenance service are retained in the Volvo system. “When that truck is turned in at the end of its life, we hope that that translates into higher resale value because it has been well maintained and all the records are with the truck,” Furst says.
Blue Contract Service can be financed through Volvo Financial Services. The cost of the program can be bundled with the truck payment or it can be billed on a monthly basis.
Furst encourages fleet to compare this new offering to other maintenance programs, whether the fleet is doing maintenance in-house or through a third-party provider. Whatever maintenance option a fleet chooses, it needs to drill down to the operational level detail to make sure it’s getting the best maintenance service at the best cost.
This commentary originally appeared in the December 2021 issue of Heavy Duty Trucking.