Preventive maintenance (PM) is the key to any successful maintenance program for commercial motor vehicles. Through preventive maintenance, vehicles are inspected, repaired, and maintained in such a way that defects are prevented from surfacing in the first place, before a violation or accident can occur.
If vehicles are only brought into the shop when they need something, the program is not preventive, it is reactionary. The problem with reactionary maintenance programs is that they are based on failure, i.e., you notice something has failed and you fix it. This type of maintenance program is destined to lead to down-time and the resulting costs of idle equipment.
A preventive maintenance program, on the other hand, brings vehicles in for inspection and maintenance on a schedule, and repairs any items that are at, or even approaching, an established cut-off point. This allows you to make repairs on your schedule, prevent violations and accidents, and keep the vehicles rolling.
Preventive maintenance is also an attitude, a commitment. It means being constantly on the lookout for things that might go wrong. It means getting the best, most cost-effective equipment for the truck and then taking care of it. This is much like preventive medicine that stresses good eating habits and regular exercise as a continuing prescription for good health and long life.
The PM philosophy is widely used, not only because it reflects a modern attitude of conservation — of using assets wisely — but because it saves money. No one can argue with the bottom line. As PM takes hold, the standard of excellence for a maintenance shop changes from getting the fastest repairs to getting the fewest repairs.
Note that the federal regulations require a “systematic” inspection, repair, and maintenance program, but they leave the details up to you.
The actual maintenance portion of PM is composed of scheduled and standardized inspections and maintenance. This is sometimes referred to as the vehicles’ “scheduled service,” or simply “service.” PM services are commonly designated as A, B, C, D, etc. As you move down the alphabet from A to B and so on, the PM service (and time required) increases in complexity.
Typically, these PM As are scheduled at half of the oil change interval of the vehicle.
Note: Some companies use an “inspection lane” and perform an “A” service every time the vehicle returns to the maintenance facility.
Companies continue the lettering system based on their needs. Some companies go as far as PM L.
It’s important to remember to establish a PM schedule for trailers as well as power units. Trailers should be subject to the same PM program as trucks. Typical preventive maintenance scheduling for a trailer is:
Don't forget the auxiliaries! Auxiliary power units (APUs), refrigeration units, wet kits, hydraulic pony engines, and idle reduction equipment all need to undergo the same scheduling process as the vehicles and trailers. The maintenance scheduling for these units can be rolled into the vehicle they are associated with. Examples would be servicing the wet kit on a vehicle each time the vehicle is serviced and servicing an APU as part of an annual inspection.
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