Cutting the number of road calls
By Ralph Merced
Transit Maintenance Manager; Big Blue Bus, Santa Monica, CA
We have a 196-bus fleet at Big Blue Bus, which breaks down to 125 natural gas vehicles, five gasoline hybrids, and the rest biodiesel. In April we began a program that my maintenance and warehouse staff came up with that has already reduced the number road calls we receive. We needed to find a way to enhance the preventive maintenance inspections. We wanted to minimize the number of road calls. I think we get so focused on the tasks at hand we don’t always try to pre-plan and forecast. The word “preventive” is exactly that; to prevent it from happening. Instead of being reactive we’re now being preventive.
First, we went through old work order and reviewed what parts should have been replaced instead of waiting too long and having a breakdown. Obviously, when the bus is down we’re not picking up people and making revenue. We did a life cycle analysis of key components. We looked at history to determine what major components on buses were failing and at what interval.
Now, every Sunday evening we forecast and schedule the vehicles that need to be put on hold in order to do preventive maintenance. That information is linked to the warehouse. They know in advance now which vehicles are being put on hold for a PMI based on the mileage intervals and they know what key components will be targeted to be replaced. The warehouse then builds what we can a kit, which consist all the parts that are needed for that particular vehicle and job assignment.
When the mechanic comes and gets his assignments, the supervisor gives them the work order and the kits have already been assembled for them. The mechanic now goes to his assignment focused on exactly what he has to do. It minimizes that down time of waiting and pulling parts. The kits are on a cart and they are rolled to the work area for the mechanic. In the last 10 days we have not had one bus on hold waiting for a part. It makes us more efficient, and we’re catching the part before failure, which reduces road calls. I think your shop would benefit from a similar plan that best fits your organization.