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Deploying Fleet Maintenance Technology for Coronavirus Mitigation

Company uses leading-edge maintenance software to conduct business-as-essential during the pandemic.

Governments worldwide, including the U.S. and Canada, consider vehicle maintenance and repair an “essential” service in the COVID-19 crisis. With this designation, these and other businesses are free to operate as normal, impossible as that may seem with coronavirus mitigation the top concern.

During the crisis, fleet maintenance and independent shops are proactively deploying technology solutions and measures to ensure business continuity and protect workers.

DieselTech has mapped out solutions for coronavirus mitigation that are made possible by using the TMT Service Center software from Trimble Transportation, according to  Mike Lackie, fleet services manager of the maintenance and repair center in Burnaby, B.C., Canada. The company services all medium and heavy-duty commercial vehicles with gasoline, diesel and electric powertrains from a 15,000-square-foot facility.


Business Continuity and Competitive Edge

DieselTech has not seen a drop in business activity from COVID-19. In fact, some of its fleet customers are bringing in more equipment since their asset utilization has declined from the economic slowdown.

DieselTech has also received more business from customers who are experiencing difficulties getting their equipment serviced at internal shops or by other vendors due to labor shortages from technicians taking time off to self-isolate.

The number of confirmed COVID-19 cases in British Columbia is low compared to the more populated Canadian provinces. Management continues to monitor case counts daily and stands ready to deploy a series of strategies aimed at coronavirus mitigation.


Digitizing the Shop

As an essential business, the management of DieselTech knows the government will not require it to shut down, but if COVID-19 cases start to accelerate and reach critical mass, management has a plan in place for office staff to work from home.

The secure, cloud-based TMT Service Center platform will make this transition, if needed, a nearly seamless experience, Lackie said. If the company was using an on-premise software system, the transition would require VPN tunnels, remote desktop access and greater levels of IT support.

In addition to working from home, Lackie said office employees can access TMT Service Center in a mobile environment. As an example, he recently loaded TMT Service Center onto the web browser of his personal vehicle, a Tesla Model 3, to pull up a customer address to make a visit.

Eliminating paper-based processes will become more critical to ensure that administrative work can be performed remotely. At the moment, DieselTech is using some paper-based organizational systems in the office and shop.

Lackie plans to more fully utilize the capabilities of TMT Service Center to eliminate paper by assigning work electronically to technicians and using reporting to alert management when tasks are completed.

Eliminating paper will improve efficiency and also ensure business continuity if the company needs to further restrict the movement of people between the shop and office. Additionally, paper might be a transmission vector for COVID-19 since it passes through multiple hands and different areas in the facility.

Plans to create a digital shop include giving every technician a mobile Toughbook laptop as well. Technicians will be able to stay connected to the web-based TMT Service Center through Wi-Fi. With a computer for each technician, DieselTech can spread technicians out on the shop floor and eliminate them sharing computer workstations, which could be a source of contagion.


Vehicle Maintenance Now Includes Disinfecting

In addition to digitizing the shop and office, DieselTech is taking proactive measures for coronavirus mitigation in vehicle maintenance by limiting in-person contact with customers and by disinfecting equipment.

Entry doors to its facility are locked during business hours to restrict access to only DieselTech employees. Drivers who bring equipment to the shop are placing keys in an exterior dropbox. Before removing the keys, office personnel spray the key tray with a disinfectant.

Before any truck or trailer enters the shop bay, all contact areas of the equipment are wiped with Spray Nine(R) disinfectant. The contact areas that are disinfected include shifters, door handles, trailer door handles and air brake glad handles with an understanding that the COVID-19 virus is known to live on metal for an extended period.

The cleaning process is repeated after technicians finish any service or repairs.


How Vehicle Maintenance Processes May Change Further

DieselTech has plans for the worst-case scenario if COVID-19 spread requires it to lock down its facility to perform only the services and repairs that it cannot perform offsite for customers, such as oil changes and the annual equipment inspections required by the government.

TMT Service Center has an optional customer self-service portal to assist with the scheduling of onsite or mobile repairs. By giving their customers online access, shops can schedule appointments and receive automatic email reminders when PM services are coming due. The system can also update vehicle mileages automatically through integration with fleet telematics systems.

By taking proactive measures to protect workers and by using technology solutions to ensure business continuity, shops and service centers will continue to fulfill their essential role to keep trucks rolling and assist with coronavirus mitigation for the supply chain.

The next move is yours. Learn more about how another Trimble customer uses TMT Service Center to manage maintenance and repair services and programs across the country to keep costs low and curtail downtime for its customers. Then, contact us to explore all the possibilities for a lean, efficient software solution at your service center.