Peterbilt Motors is building an extensive product support program which will broaden its involvement in vehicle maintenance and parts inventory management.

The truck maker plans to expand its current TruckCare program to make it easier for operators to maximize uptime, extend vehicle life, improve vehicle performance, and get better at managing cost per mile. A key part of the strategy is centralized recordkeeping and reporting to provide TruckCare participants quick and easy access to information.
Speaking to reporters at a press event held at the company’s call center in Paccar Parts headquarters in Renton, WA, Peterbilt officials said the number of fleets and operators registered for various TruckCare services has been increasing steadily. Over 12,000 operators with 55,000 trucks are currently registered users of the call center, which receives an average of 1,200 calls daily.
The center allows operators with disabled vehicles to call a toll free number at any time to get emergency help and be up and running again as quickly as possible. Until 1999, emergency roadside service was provided by a third party company. But after Paccar’s acquisition of European truck maker DAF Trucks, the company incorporated DAF’s highly sophisticated call center system into its North American operations.
Call center volume has increased 45% from June 2000 to June 2001, but Peterbilt says responsiveness has not suffered with 93% of callers still getting to an operator within 3 minutes.
Peterbilt has almost 12,000 users of its TruckCare service card which allows drivers to charge over-the-road services such as fuel and repairs. The card can be used at over 4,000 locations and currently generates $1.6 million monthly in purchases.
A total of 2,500 trucks are in the TruckCare preventive maintenance program, which allows fleets to contract for prepaid scheduled maintenance. Schedules are based on time or mileage and can be handled by a network of over 600 dealers around the country.
The Peterbilt electronic parts catalog, currently available to fleets on CD, will eventually be available via the Internet and will be customized by vehicle identification number. Peterbilt users will be able to look up part information on specific vehicles, based on their factory specs.
The Internet will also play an increasing role with TruckCare Connect which links a fleets parts inventory to a local Peterbilt dealer’s parts department. Using a bar code reader and software, parts can be replenished automatically and kept at optimum levels.
Peterbilt currently has 214 dealer locations and has a goal of expanding so that there is a location within one hour of 80% of all truck operators in the country.
Dave Weiger, president of Florida-based Palm Peterbilt said he wasn’t concerned that TruckCare might send some potential customer to other dealer locations. “It allows us to offer around-the-clock service without keeping our locations open 24/7,” he said. “We have had our own PM program, but we’d like to move the fleets in that program to TruckCare PM because it’s easier to administrate.”
Curtis Youngblood, president of truckload carrier Youngblood Truck Lines, is also a big TruckCare fan. He signed up for the PM program in 1999 because it was difficult to get reliable service from independent repair facilities. “We have three of our own maintenance facilities but we can only do 30 to 35 percent of maintenance in these facilities,” he said. "Prior to TruckCare, we had to negotiate maintenance with all the independents and we had no control over quality. TruckCare provides an arbitration board of sorts. If we’re not happy with some service, we can get it resolved easily through Peterbilt.” Youngblood said. TruckCare also takes a lot of pressure off his maintenance supervisors who were tired of getting emergency calls at 2 am.
“Trucks never break down at the terminal. You have to manage maintenance,” he said.
Youngblood said information from TruckCare is synched with his fleets standard maintenance software, making it easy to pull up costs and comparative data on individual units.
“Better information and communication is crucial in this business. The customer doesn’t care what’s happened to your trucks. They want the freight delivered. Using TruckCare allows us to keep better track of the trucks.”