In a perfect world, trucks would never break down or need maintenance. In the real world, however, even the best-made trucks need to come in for service. When that happens, fleet managers want that service to be completed as quickly and efficiently as possible.
One truck manufacturer has much to say about what it is doing to improve repair operations across its dealership network.
“The aftermarket is extremely important and absolutely key to Daimler Trucks North America’s success,” says Paul Romanaggi, general manager of service. And he says the company is taking steps to demonstrate that commitment.
While Romanaggi is quick to point out that the company works hard to “build the highest quality product,” he admits that problems can occur. “When there is an issue, the key is fast turnaround.”
DTNA has a number of initiatives — some of which have been in place for some time and others that are new or under development — that aim to streamline and speed up service events.
Express Assessment and Express Repair are designed to ensure vehicles are diagnosed within two hours, and “through our Uptime Pro System we can see exactly what trucks are in the service queue, when they arrived, and the status of the repair,” Romanaggi says. “We are also measuring 4-, 10-, 24-, and 48-hour churn, so we can measure the turnaround performance of all our dealers.”
Using big data analytics, based on information from millions of repair orders, has allowed DTNA to help pinpoint likely causes of many problems, which helps cut down on diagnostic time, Romanaggi says.
Beyond that, DTNA is focusing on parts availability throughout its service network. “We may have the technician [who can fix the truck], but you also need to have the parts on hand, “ he says.
Romanaggi explains that dealers are working with the DTNA aftermarket team to plan their inventories to ensure high parts availability. “We come in with algorithms, national demand, and knowledge of any new emerging issues that may have a high parts replacement rate, and we complement the dealer’s planning with additional parts that we see are going to be needed across the network.”
In an effort to get parts where they need to be, earlier this year the company added a 10th parts distribution center in the Phoenix area. Ray Addison, department manager, aftermarket marketing communications, says the addition of this PDC allows 90% of the company’s sales outlets to get products delivered the next day. As to whether other PDCs are planned, Addison says, “We have a dynamic rapid recovery system within our PDC network, so we are always evaluating how we can provide better service from a parts availability perspective. We will continue to see if additional PDCs are necessary in order for us to improve and maximize performance.”
DTNA announced over the summer that it’s growing its all-makes aftermarket parts brand, Alliance Truck Parts. It is expanding the number of product lines offered and working with dealers to open new retail parts shops, both stand-alone and within existing dealer locations.
Another step DTNA is taking to speed up the repair process is getting pre-authorizations from fleets for service work. “We are working with fleets on a pre-authorization process that provides guarantees to the fleet in exchange for a pre-authorization that enables us to move into the repair more quickly,” Romanaggi says.
DTNA is also establishing a program called “A Plan for Every Dealer.” It includes a baseline assessment of the dealer’s performance as it relates to service throughput speed, processes, proficiency in Uptime Pro, whether they have parts runners and truck porters, the training level of technicians, etc. Following that, and in conjunction with the dealer principle, they set a 6-, 12-, and 24-month plan of continuous-improvement initiatives that are prioritized.
The goal of all of these initiatives, according to Romanaggi, is driving wasted time and inefficiencies out of the repair process and getting trucks in and out of the service bays quickly.