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Podcast

How Fleets Can Use Maintenance Software to Save Time and Money

Learn about simple fleet maintenance software designed to track and solve every maintenance issue for fleet managers and technicians.

Episode 265: The complexity of commercial vehicles, and the advancement of technology in the trucking industry, makes it increasingly more difficult for fleets to keep track of their maintenance programs. Large mega-fleets are using robust software, but what about smaller fleets with smaller budgets? In this episode, we discuss a configurable software solution that is specifically designed for growing fleets.

Mike Valnev headshot, and Fleetpal logo. In this episode, learn about simple fleet maintenance software designed to track and solve every maintenance issue for fleet managers and technicians.

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Transcript of Episode

Jamie Irvine:

You are listening to The Heavy Duty Parts Report. I’m your host, Jamie Irvine, and this is the place where we have conversations that empower heavy-duty people.

The complexity of commercial vehicles and the advancement of technology in the trucking industry is creating a situation where it is becoming progressively more difficult for fleets to keep track of their maintenance programs. Large mega fleets are using really robust software, but what about the smaller fleets? What about the independence, the ones that are growing their fleet and perhaps they are in between that owner operator situation and being a larger fleet. What’s the solution for them? Well, in today’s episode, we’re going to talk about a configurable software that is specifically designed for smaller fleets that are growing to be able to keep track of their maintenance program. And with me to talk about that is the founder of FleetPal. So I’m really excited to have Mike Valnev on today’s program. In addition to that, we’re going to hear from Randy Obermeyer, who is the VP of Maintenance over at Online Transport.

Now, Randy and I caught up with each other at the Technology and Maintenance Council’s annual meeting a couple months ago, and he talked about the complexity. He talked about the challenges of keeping track of fleet maintenance, and it was really awesome to be able to have Mike and Randy both comment on this from their perspectives. As two individuals who have been in fleet maintenance for a very, very long time, I think this is going to really be a great episode. If you are in the business of operating a fleet, there’s an opportunity for you to get access to FleetPal’s software. And in addition to that, if you are someone who either sells parts or offers repair services to fleets, this understanding of what fleets are going through and what they’re looking for, especially as it relates to VMRS codes, could help you to sell more parts and service.

Either way, it’s going to be a great episode. So let’s get started. So first I want to introduce Mike Valnev. Now Mike again is the CEO and Founder of FleetPal. Mike is someone who worked in the industry himself prior to launching this technology solution, and he’s someone who is committed to helping fleets lower their total cost of operation. Mike, thank you so much for being on the podcast. You and I have worked together off and on for a couple years and it has been awesome for me to watch FleetPal expand from those early days when you had an idea and now you’ve turned it into something really great for fleets. I’m really looking forward to learning more about all of the things that you’ve done with FleetPal and how that’s going to help fleets manage their maintenance programs. What was the thing that made you realize, I need to build this for fleets? Tell me that story.

Mike Valnev:

So I was working for a fleet in the past. I was a fleet manager in charge of about 500 power units and about 700 trailers. I was promoted from within the company. I started in the company as a truck driver. I climbed up the stair and my knowledge was limited, so I started learning about fleet maintenance, about the trucks and everything. I went to classes with OEMs about how to fix vehicles so I can manage the fleet maintenance. It came to a point where the company grew and we had to open up a shop and manage our own repairs. And then the challenge came to me how to streamline the process, how to collect data, how to find information presented to the stakeholders so they can make accurate decisions. And every time I was asked questions, I had a lot of problems of delivering these answers to the stakeholders and we decided to start shopping for fleet maintenance software.

And that’s where it became interesting. We’ve seen evaluated a lot of different solutions, all of them, some somewhat good, somewhat not. It turns out that some solutions are built to fit specific operation, other solution or not, and we selected whatever was the best or closest to what we do. That being said, we had to change our operation to match whatever the software was doing for us, but thank God our software back then was supporting VMRS codes. Unfortunately, I didn’t know what it means, so it was very hard for me to set up correctly. We use some consultants to help us, but they do the job, they go home and that’s it. From there on it, it’s my own problem. So without knowing, without this information, we set up incorrectly. Our process was incorrect, and it came to a point where we spent about $150,000 on solution.

I couldn’t pull reports. And I’m not saying necessarily that’s the solution’s problem, but it was lacking knowledge. It was lacking onboarding. We needed basically turnkey reports, analytics and things that can show us the North Star. And I’m saying this because a lot of the people that we work with, they’re small businesses now and they’re growing and a lot of them are also promoted from within. A lot of fleet managers are dealing with the same problem right now. And what I wanted to do is to get a system that will give me blueprint, something that I can step on and start building on top of it something that’s going to give me my North Star, where what I need to follow to show me the basic KPIs that I need to track so I can just start filling in the information where needed and just improve my fleet maintenance overall with time.

Jamie Irvine:

So it sounds like it was a combination of the vehicles themselves getting more complex, the need for then a system to be able to manage all of that. There’s added complexity there, and when you bring these two things together, it causes a lot of problems. Listen in to Randy from Online Transport, as he talks about the exact same problem he had is having right now as a fleet maintenance manager listening to what he had to say.

Randy Obermeyer:

Hi, my name is Randy Obermeyer, Vice President of Safety and Maintenance at Online Transport. I am the current general chairman and treasurer of the Technology and Maintenance Council.

Jamie Irvine:

Randy, it’s so nice to see you.

Randy Obermeyer:

Yes, you too. We’re

Jamie Irvine:

Here at TMC at the annual meeting in Orlando, Florida. Let’s talk for a little bit about fleet maintenance. What are some of the challenges of keeping track of fleet maintenance programs at a fleet level? I’d like to hear your perspective since you kind of live it every day.

Randy Obermeyer:

I would say the big thing is just making sure that information is accurate, that’s coming in, having the right VMRS code, the right cause, the right reason code, the complaint, the right mileage, all those things that go into a repair order. If the information going in is junk, the information out is junk as well. So if you’re looking at cost per type of vehicle or cost per component code, all that stuff has to be accurate in order if you’re going to measure that stuff correctly.

Jamie Irvine:

We just listened to Randy talk about the importance of accuracy with data when it comes to fleet maintenance programs. Mike, how when you put FleetPal together, how did you put an emphasis on making the accuracy of data and the management of that data easier for your customers?

Mike Valnev:

Some of the things that we do is filtering the VMRS codes for the customers. And because every operation is different, everybody, every company is using different VMRS codes sets and some of these complain code codes or reason for repair codes, like they’re a lot. So we try to filter them out to whatever the fleets are willing to use, making the selection smaller and that way the errors are less because there’s less options to choose from. We always encourage the fleets to focus on only the data points that they’re interested to track, not to track necessarily everything the VMRS offers because it’s a lot, and that way we are able to lower the errors in data entry by a lot. When it comes to components and parts, we use third party services that help us with VMRS coding. Our software have the ability to actually redo VMRS codes for previous work orders. So even if the work orders are done in the past, we can still tap in and pull all the part numbers and recode and produce fresh reports after that recoding of the VMRS codes.

Jamie Irvine:

We’re going to take a quick break to hear from our sponsors. We’ll be right back. This episode of The Heavy Duty Parts Report is brought to you by Find It Parts your ultimate destination for heavy-duty truck and trailer parts. Discover a vast range of parts at finditparts.com. Don’t spend hours a day looking for parts instead visit find it parts.com and get them right away. Parts availability and quality have a big influence on fleets and owner operators’ total cost of operation, if they can’t find a part, it means more downtime. If they install a low quality part and it fails, it means even more costs like tow bills, hotels, meals for the driver and lost revenue. That’s why we recommend Sampa. They manufacture a wide range of advanced parts for commercial vehicles. Their website has an intelligent product search engine and broad coverage of suspension, steering and fifth wheel components. Expect More. Expect Sampa. Visit sampa.com today. So Randy, as complexity in commercial equipment has increased, it’s not the old days like it was when you and I started in our careers and everything was mechanical. How has that contributed to the challenge of keeping track of your fleet maintenance program?

Randy Obermeyer:

Well, I guess there’s just so many more components now and with more components, more VMRS codes, it’s harder to find the VMRS codes for all the electronic components. So making sure that those VMRS components are marked correctly inside a repair order is imperative. And then when it comes to just diagnosing and trying to figure out what the root cause of those problems are, because we actually track root causes as well, it’s hard to find a root cause for an electronic component such as a NOx sensor, a DEF sensor, a collision avoidance sensor or control module. Back in the day with all the mechanical components, you could typically find the root cause fairly easier, whether it be the foundation brake system or the mechanical engine or transmission components. You look at that and pretty simply figure out what the root cause of that failure was.

Jamie Irvine:

Back in the mechanical days, if it was broken, it was knocking. So all you had to do was identify where that was coming from and you knew the root cause. Absolutely. It’s certainly not as easy as that. So Mike, as you can hear from Randy’s comments, that complexity in equipment and also the system itself is something that a lot of fleet maintenance managers, to your point, are feeling like Randy admitted that himself. And I love the fact that you have built this platform in such a way that it’s going to really make it easy for the fleets that are growing to be able to grow with the system and be able to build their maintenance program from the ground up. So Mike, I want you to listen to what Randy said about the things they value in a fleet maintenance software system, and I’d like to get your thoughts on that. So let’s listen to what Randy had to say and then you can let me know what you think. When I think about complexity in vehicles, I also think about advancement and technology in general. There are a fair amount of different solutions, software solutions out there to try to help fleets tackle this. When you’re evaluating one of those solutions, what are the things that you’re looking for specifically to say, Hey, this is something that will really help us solve the problem?

Randy Obermeyer:

Well, I think the big thing, it needs to be something that’s customizable so that you can change codes to match your business. It needs to be easy to use because I said earlier, the mechanics are inputting most of the data, so it needs to be easy for them to use. It needs to be easy for them to navigate, and it needs to be fast for them to navigate because if they have to sit around and wait for the thing to think through the systems, they’re going to give up and they’re not going to put the data in. And if it takes ’em a long time to do searching for specifics codes or a long time to go from screen to screen, they’re going to get frustrated and they’re going to stop using it. But it also needs to be fast, it needs to be customizable in terms of reporting. We actually have an intron that system where we use APIs to collect information from our software maintenance software system. We also use our ELD service provider and pull in information from there. We can look at cost per mile right up to the second. So that I think to me is one of the biggest things to be allow the customer to pull in the information through whatever their IT department can fix up.

Mike Valnev:

I really like what Randy said about customizable solution. We like to use the word configurable because it’s a big part of our effort. When we develop FleetPal, we lean heavy on configurability for our customers because every customer is different and they have different operations. We want to make sure that we can configure VMRS codes and the software itself to their need so they don’t have to deal with extra data points or dropdowns or whatever they have to deal with. We configure it exactly for their need. Another thing that Randy mentioned was the usability. We put a lot of effort on that as well. We have a special design team that work together with our developers and engineers so we can produce a product that’s usable, that it’s easy to use. We have our users personas develop. We always pay attention to who’s going to use the software, and we only provide and show them the data that they need to see. We don’t want to want them to see overwhelming dashboard or anything that’s not relevant to them. Our application is also mobile. It’s been designed to be mobile first, but it’s also works on any other device. A big benefit of that is that you know, don’t have to learn to different user interfaces. Mobile sometimes differentiates from desktop based on what kind of system you use it. Our application is web-based app, so we’re consistent across all the devices.

Jamie Irvine:

You know what Mike, I really like what you said there about making sure that they just have the usable information at their fingertips and that they can modify it to the fleet’s needs. I think that’s so important because how many times, I mean, you had this with your experience before you started FleetPal, right? How many times do you bring on a software trying to solve a problem and because it’s kind of an out of the box trying to solve the problems for everybody, there’s all these things that you don’t need, you never use, and sometimes you end up not using the software at all, and that’s kind of a worst case scenario. So it sounds to me like you’ve really paid attention to that and the user experience now is built in such a way that users of FleetPal, they’re going to get the maximum benefit out of it because they’re only going to get the data that they actually need and can take action on.

Mike Valnev:

Absolutely. Another big thing that Randy mentioned was the reporting capabilities. Being able to receive realtime reports. That is something that FleetPal does perfectly as well. Actually, he mentioned cost per mile. That’s one of our favorite turnkey widgets as we call them on the dashboard. We also support integration with Telematics where we can pull data and show real time data, cost per mile, cost per hour, and many more. So that’s something that we do as well.

Jamie Irvine:

So Mike, thank you so much for taking some time to talk to me about all of the great things that you’re doing with FleetPal. I mean, you have built this for small fleets that are growing. You’ve been in the position before, you know the pain and you’ve built a custom solution here, a configurable solution that’s going to really help fleets. So Mike, if someone wants to actually get a demo of this and see it in real time, what’s the best way for them to do that?

Mike Valnev:

That would be to go to our website and click the button Request Demo. Somebody from our team will reach out and set up the demo.

Jamie Irvine:

Okay. So make sure you head over to Fleetpal.io to get your live free demo. Now, there’s also an opportunity for someone to test drive the software. Can you explain how that works?

Mike Valnev:

You can go to our website and click the button, get started for free. You can register and try out FleetPal.

Jamie Irvine:

Yeah, that’s great. And to be able to have that 15 day free trial or up to 15 work orders, that’s going to give people enough time to be able to get a feel for what it’s like and to understand whether or not it’s a good fit for their business. Mike, I am so happy with all the progress you’ve made with FleetPal. I think what you’re doing is so important for the trucking industry. You are providing a solution for that small fleet that’s trying to grow and that needs a configurable solution. So my hat’s off to you. You’re doing a great job. Please keep going. We need you, my friend.

Mike Valnev:

Thank you, Jamie. Thank you so much for having me on the show. We’re really looking forward to be helping fleets with our maintenance program and save them some money.

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