Maintenance will be more important than ever in the coming year, especially with the introduction of new emissions technology, stressed a speaker at the recent Technology & Maintenance Council Fall Meeting and National Skills Competition.

Jack Conlan, senior vice president of parts and service for Daimler Trucks North America, stressed the importance of maintenance efforts in 2010, especially with the introduction of selective catalytic reduction next year. Using a football analogy, Conlan outlined five key steps fleets should focus on to overcome the challenges and be successful.

"2010 will be the time to execute proven plays at the line of scrimmage - it won't be a time of improvising, last minute audibles, or Hail Mary's," said Conlan. "By developing and maintaining renewed levels of discipline, experience, preparation, partnership and transparency, 2010 will simply become the time to drive the ball into the emissions 'end zone,' safely and profitably for your companies, your teams and the entire industry."

The first principle he recommended was to avoid costly penalties by developing operational metrics that are transparent to all managers. Second, he suggested weeding out players that are not performing, and partner with manufacturers, suppliers and technologies that not only meet the standards, but exceed them.

The next piece of advice involved shifting the focus toward experience. To illustrate, he used the example of Detroit Diesel engines and Daimler's BlueTec SCR system, which is approaching more than 28 million miles of testing, including the experiences of more than 40 freight hauling real life customers, customer demo trucks in various configurations and applications on the road today.

Another strategy Conlan offered is to have all the appropriate training and educational resources on hand. This includes online and instructor led educational and certification compliance programs for trainers and technicians.

Lastly, Conlan said, the entire team must be on the same page, including suppliers, employees and support personnel. A strong, committed and knowledgeable network is key to being successful, he says. Education across the company on the diagnostic tools used for 2010, and system warning functions are also important elements to ensure that vehicles are performing at their peak levels and will give drivers the confidence of maximized vehicle uptime and minimized fuel costs.