Bison Transport (Bison) is one of Canada’s largest carriers, serving all of Canada and 48 nearby states. The Winnipeg, Manitoba-based company provides full truckload service, full-service logistics, dedicated fleet operations, yard management as well as warehousing and distribution services. Over the years, Bison has grown, now managing a fleet of more than 1,500 tractors and about 2,900 employees.
Early on, Bison used a maintenance solution that recorded the basics, like the amount of time that a technician spent working on a repair order versus the amount of time spent cleaning up. It was software that simply measured productivity. To grow with the company, leadership switched to Trimble’s TMT Fleet Maintenance solution five years ago to gain further insight into business operations. The tool provides in-depth analyses, from which Bison was able to improve efficiencies across its five maintenance shops.
To further advance and improve the business, Bison identified its maintenance shops as an area where it could create more efficiencies. It was challenged to know how much time technicians were spending working on repairs, finding parts, cleaning the shops or doing other tasks. It really came down to winning or losing. The company knew they were busy because of the number of equipment coming into the shops and how hard guys were working, but they really wanted to know how efficiently that work was getting done.
Bison chose to implement job codes and standard repair times to better manage shop operations and manage its technicians’ time. The system is organized using a six-digit component code with a series of letters. Everything is sorted alphabetically to ensure that all data entered into the solution remains organized. TMT Fleet Maintenance records the performance measures that the company was looking for to improve efficiency.
The company carefully planned the transition to job codes. It used a stepped approach where each stage had specific items to implement and objectives to reach before moving onto the next part. First, Bison implemented generic job codes. It was able to train its staff to input those generic codes as a training tool, while maintaining its other system so work didn’t stop. Then, preventative maintenance codes were added. With those, checklists were available on the computer so that technicians could go through step-by-step to see and check off what needed to be done. That data was entered directly into the system. Once employees understood how the system worked, Bison started adding its own codes, which were easy to understand and measurable and expanded from there. This standardized coding system made it easy for different teams to learn the system and stay on the same page.
Bison has so far introduced more than 2,000 job codes into its TMT Fleet Maintenance solution. By implementing new standard repair time goals across its five shops, Bison identified areas where it could improve. From the reports generated and metrics provided, the company created a technician scorecard for managers. The scorecards are used to effectively measure performance and show technicians their strengths or where to improve. With the implementation of job codes and the data insights that Bison now receives, the company was able to report a measurable efficiency savings of over $1,000,000.
The two biggest wins for the company were finding ways to improve efficiency and the system enabled detailed reporting. The efficiency wasn’t just about how much time employees were spending on tasks, rather they bought into the change and were looking for better standards of practice and noticing that if they had certain tools they could perform jobs quicker. The reporting was something that Bison didn’t have before. It started doing push reports to its shops to analyze standard repair times and see what tasks were taking too long, which helped shop managers look at the bigger picture of overall efficiency.
Bison was also able to build integration tools that enabled them to better track preventative maintenance and know where assets were. First, Bison is able to know exactly where its assets are located and whether or not they are being used. For example, if a tractor is in the yard today but is scheduled to be used tomorrow, the company is able to adjust any scheduled maintenance on that piece of equipment prior to it leaving, or work with operations to rebook an appointment when it returns. Second, seeing these schedules has provided maintenance managers the visibility to look ahead to an asset’s usage and pick a time to perform any necessary work or preventative maintenance. This has enabled Bison to maximize its asset utilization and work more efficiently.
Thanks to Bison’s concentrated use of job codes and key integrations, not only did they improve efficiencies and costs, but they also scored an in.sight 2019 Ovation Award for Maintenance.
“Implementing job codes to improve our standard repair times across our five shops has been greatly beneficial. The reporting enables us to see what we are doing well and what we need to improve on. The buy-in from our employees has been just as important, as we have found efficiencies in a lot of our processes and improved our overall workflow.”
-Trevor Johnston, Senior Maintenance Business Analyst, Bison Transport