Outside of customers, vehicles are a waste company’s most important and costly assets! Yet few companies manage them with the attention they deserve. Many companies are still using antiquated paper based records systems to keep track of these, when paper based filing systems are the most costly to keep and most difficult to share amongst staff from multiple departments.

Trucks these days can cost several hundred thousand dollars and then get fitted with an array of expensive accessories such as on-board computers, camera systems and the like. The compactor bodywork may be custom built, the chassis may have different lift and compaction systems fitted.

Some trucks are like the woodsman’s 10 year old axe, (only changed the head once and handle twice), as vehicles go through several iterations of refurbishment until they become ghosts (the stage after write-off where they can still be used as off-the-books emergency backup).

What a good fleet records management system should do in a waste company is help you keep track of registers of all relevant equipment data, such as make, model, year, serial number, etc, for the following groups of equipment:

  • Body details and dimensions,
  • Engine, PTO and Chassis data,
  • Suspension and Axel details,
  • Bin lift and load cell systems,
  • Waste compaction systems,
  • Other Accessories and warranty dates: Eg: Fire extinguishers, Onboard systems, Air-con units, etc, On-board Computers

Different truck types/groups will have varying standard component sets

Simple record keeping can save considerable admin time (and cost) when chasing down paperwork to find out what make and model of lift systems are on a truck, that’s broken down out in the field or in the mechanics yard when it comes time to order a replacement parts. If you can capture new vehicle details through an induction process when the purchasing paperwork is handy, or at repair/refurbishment time, then electronic records can easily be kept up to date.

Pictures (front, back and sides) are easy to do with a digital camera these days and can also be linked to your audit reports and also show what kind of condition the truck is in.

Record keeping also assists in minimising risk and the cost of accidents.

Simply knowing from your operations data what trucks are doing how many kilometres or engine hours (easy to record from onboard systems) or simply knowing how many working days, can help you know when to schedule appropriate preventative maintenance A or B services.

Integrated fleet service calendars should not only help you with scheduling what trucks are assigned to which route or area but should also be able to project when different trucks will be due for their next periodic safety checks and services, based on how many kilometres or engine hours they are clocking up each day.

Breakdowns or accidents awaiting repair can also be marked up in an electronic calendar style roster chart to give managers a clearer picture of truck availability at a glance.

With the hindsight of recent fatal accidents involving waste vehicles, many larger companies are scrambling to get better repairs and maintenance service record systems in place.

Simple Record of Service/Repair Costs

Some fleet maintenance management systems are overkill, where a simple log of last brake service date and cost or preventative maintenance service applied on what date and odometer mark can cover basic record keeping requirements.

Recording detail maintenance and repair costs can also be difficult. While most of the in-house grease-monkeys (dare I use that old term?) have now moved out to contract vehicle maintenance specialists there is still a range of simple local repairs and maintenance that can be done ‘in-house”.

Yet getting your yard mechanics into the office to record maintenance costs into the computer system isn’t an easy task. (Most would opt for having a cute clerical assistant to enter data, as their digits are grease covered most of the day.)

The advent of on-board computers has meant that the trucks can capture a lot of the relevant data you need automatically (eg simple kilometres travelled from GPS and engine hours and various other factors from Canbus systems.)

On-board systems also make it much easier for drivers to log defects electronically via onscreen Defective Vehicle Reports (DVRs). Defects can then be prioritised pro-actively by category and not lost in translation from driver through admin staff to maintenance staff.

When you consider the cost of a full safety recall and lost revenue-earning power, when those trucks are off the road, plus unexpected breakdowns related to missed services, plus driver’s overtime and the value of lost customers from service failures, it can very expensive.

Being able to demonstrate a good safety record can also help reduce insurance costs and can intangibly attract and keep better staff.

So timely maintenance is a major cost saver!