By: DickinsonFleet On: March 31, 2016 In: Truck Maintenance Comments: 0

Could you be saving money on your truck maintenance?

I know. I know. It’s kind of a strange question for a truck repair and maintenance company to ask, right. I mean, you’d think we would want you to spend MORE. Honestly, the question kind of reminds me of the GEICO commercial about saving 15% of more on car insurance.

But seriously, often times truck repair and maintenance is the budget that gets cut or the last one that gets thought about. So, saving some money here is a good thing.

I was recently reading in Fleet Owner about the Vehicle Maintenance Reporting Standards (VMRS) system developed and introduced in 1970 by the American Trucking Assns. More specifically, about it’s lack of adoption. According to Jack Poster, VMRS services manager for the council, “VMRS is the least understood—and most misunderstood—thing out in the maintenance shop. I get calls all the time, ‘What’s this ‘V-S-M-R’?” he says, jumbling the acronym’s letters. “It may be behind the scenes of what fleets are doing, but it’s very misunderstood.”

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So Why Use VMRS?

Using VMRS can allow fleets to create a “virtual shop” which can give them a better understanding on maintenance and uptime.

ATA puts it this way: VMRS “provides a vital communication link between maintenance personnel, computers and management.” It’s a basic maintenance communications structure designed to connect fleets, OEMs, suppliers, computers, and those who spec, operate and maintain equipment.

How It Works

Basically VMRS is a way of organizing information about trucks and their components. This makes it easier to track maintenance issues and expenses. As an example, for just about anything on a truck, the system includes nine digits that break down into groups of three and indicate (1) system, (2) assembly, and (3) actual component. For instance, explains Poster, take “013 002 023”—”013” is the braking system, “002” is rear brake parts, and “023” is brake drum.

VMRS standardizes and captures info about maintenance done on trucks and all their components. This allows fleet owners to keep track of what type of repairs are being done to see if it’s related to one manufacturer, on particular part, or something else.

While some may see the VMRS method as “old school.” It turns out that it’s actually being updated quite often. There are about 9,000 manufacturers and it’s designed to keep up with new codes.

VMRS codes can be used to identify just about anything. As Poster says, “a lot of people don’t realize it, but VMRS can be almost like building your own vehicle identification number, “ This makes it easy to quickly identify which parts are being worked on and ordered the most. As many Fleet Managers have found out, trying to do this without this type of system is flat out tough.

How You Save Money

Jarit Cornelius, maintenance manager for truckload carrier Sharp Transport shares this example…

“A couple of years ago, our drivers were calling us from the road telling us their air line was broke or was leaking,” Cornelius recalls, “and we’d have to get them somewhere to put a new one on.” It was an unfamiliar problem, and while running monthly reports with VMRS codes, Cornelius noticed there was a spike in code 013/brake system.

“I started to drill down with my VMRS codes and found in the repair orders that the air lines were breaking behind the gladhands [i.e., coupling devices] when [drivers] were tethering them to the trailers,” he recalls. “We hadn’t been putting in gladhand grips then, so we bought gladhand grips, added that to our preventive maintenance service for those trucks, and we haven’t had that problem ever since.”

Another problem that came up was with APU units where Cornelius used VMRS codes to determine that replacing the parts wasn’t actually fixing the problem.

Cornelius says that by using VMRS codes, he has been able to cut physical inventory costs from $200,000+ per year all the way down to under $75,000 with 96% accuracy. Now that’s some serious savings!

Truck Maintenance Partner

Using VMRS codes to help manage your truck repair and maintenance program takes time. It also takes finding the right partner and vendor to oversee your fleet’s health.

We can be that partner for you. Contact us today or call 855-DFS-4111 for more info!