As the Technology & Maintenance Council of the American Trucking Associations meets this week, a report by a major maintenance software company finds that awareness of VMRS, the TMC-developed maintenance reporting standard, still lags in the industry.

Arsenault Associates, the makers of Dossier fleet maintenance software solutions, reports overwhelming acceptance of VMRS as a maintenance reporting standard among its newer fleet maintenance software customers. Over the last four years, 95 percent of its new Dossier customers have implemented VMRS in their software systems to enhance their analysis, planning and industry communications capabilities.

At the same time, an internal Arsenault study revealed that as many as half of fleet professionals called on by Arsenault reps were previously unaware of VMRS as a maintenance management tool.

"We've come a long way - recognition and adoption of VMRS is improving," said Charles Arsenault, CEO of Arsenault Associates, "but we still have a long way to go."

VMRS, which stands for Vehicle Maintenance Reporting Standards, was developed by the TMC to provide a "universal" language between fleet maintenance personnel, original equipment manufacturers, industry suppliers, and others who specify, purchase, operate and maintain equipment. After its launch in 1970, adoption of VMRS was slow to non-existent, but acceptance improved after a major revision a decade ago.

VMRS standardizes equipment master records and it uses a series of numeric codes to identify vehicle components, systems and assemblies, work accomplished, parts assemblies, part failures, as well as manufacturers and suppliers. More and more OEMs are using VMRS to better communicate with fleets and verify warranty claims, premature failures, and the like.

Arsenault account managers reported that no fleet objected to using VMRS codes; most welcomed the preconfigured coding method and processes. They said customers frequently added some custom codes of their own, usually to address unique equipment not covered by VMRS coding or for their company's internal accounting or human resources purposes.

According to the report, as many as half of the fleets called on by Arsenault were previously unaware of VMRS. Awareness was actually higher among small fleet managers than among those who managed large fleets. In fact, Dossier software was directly responsible for the introduction and implementation of VMRS in more than 60 percent of its new, big-fleet customers.

Companies using VMRS have a standard by which they can analyze their entire maintenance operation and costs including histories. Therefore, they can pinpoint areas of excess expense and premature failure, and identify areas in need of increased efficiency and equipment utilization. Between companies, VMRS enables benchmarking of equipment experience, expenses, even overall performance of maintenance departments.

Dossier fleet maintenance software has integrated VMRS coding and workflow, and in-support customers receive all VMRS updates as part of Arsenault Associates' Software Maintenance & Support Services without any additional fees. New Dossier program releases incorporate VMRS updates as they are made available from TMC, which administers VMRS.

The company actively promotes the use of VMRS and has been doing so since the company was founded in 1979. The company has also contributed to VMRS through active participation in the TMC, and has helped to develop new codes and revise older ones based on installed base feedback and new customer requirements.