Develop a cost effective vehicle maintenance strategy, e.g. by offering vehicle maintenance and repair services commercially to other organisations. Pay attention to the management of maintenance costs throughout the vehicle lifecycle.
The maintenance and repair workshop is often located at a bus depot together with other operational facilities such as stores or the fuel station. The workshop has to provide maintenance for a large variety of vehicles, from several manufacturers and with a long life cycle. Workshop size and equipment is determined according to the number, size and type of rolling stock and the maintenance regime. The workshop can be separated into separate partitioned areas according to the service function (e.g. cleaning, preventative maintenance, greasing etc.).
Workshop operation includes:
Vehicle checks (preventative maintenance),
Regular maintenance / repair,
Materials and components stores,
Registering of failures and repairs and providing other documentation (such as drivers’ service books),
Communication with drivers and management,
Activities for providing an environmentally-friendly bus service (e.g. cleaning with recycled water, waste management, reduced fuel and energy consumption, improvement of chemical treatment),
Data supply and disposal (for ticket machines, on board units, counting units, …)
Some technical terms are explained under ► Background information: Strategies for vehicle maintenance.
The maintenance and repair of vehicles does not necessarily need to be performed by the operator itself. Where the fleet is small, in-house maintenance is not generally cost effective, since the required investment (staff training, spare-parts acquisition) is not justified. Another solution can be to perform only maintenance work in-house, whilst larger repairs such as engine repairs are provided by the vehicle supplier or by outsourcing. On the other hand, if the operator owns a well-equipped workshop itself, it can offer maintenance and repair services to other public transport fleets (e.g. a regional bus operator), large road haulage firms, municipalities and coach or taxi businesses. An increasing number of manufacturers offer their vehicles through a contract which includes maintenance activities as well. There are different types of this model in action (e.g. maintenance and repair is done in the manufacturer’s workshops whereas maintenance and repair remains with the operator but the cost is refunded by the manufacturer).
Technical staff must be appropriately qualified in order to ensure that systems operate correctly on a long-term basis without failure. Training is mainly carried out by supplier companies and should be organised in a regular annual programme.
With larger fleets the need for electronic data transfer to and from vehicles (e.g. ticketing machines, passenger counts, software updates) increases. The automation of such procedures in depots saves much time and money. Options include communication via W-LAN during overnight hours when vehicles are parked in depots.
Strategies of handling individual vehicles as individual cost sites help to monitor and to individualise problematic vehicles in the fleet.
The adoption of a quality management system according to ISO 9001:2000 is a strategic decision for maintenance work. The workshop certification gives a trading advantage in competition with other workshops and - where the workshop is part of a transport company - it can also be a good beginning for the company’s overall certification scheme.
Environmental aspects should be integrated in the planning phase of new workshops.
Advanced maintenance regimes require sophisticated high-technology equipment and staff training. To provide and control a qualitative maintenance service theinformation flow between different personnel and sectionsis important. An optimum workshop management and organisation is the best organisational balance between product (the vehicle being ready for operation), staff (work conditions, training, safety etc.) and stakeholders’ concerns (costs, audits etc.). This balance is different in all organisations.
Almere (The Netherlands): The Dutch company Connexxion transformed its maintenance department into an independent company (Techno services Nederland BV). This manages and maintains the fleets of public transport companies, large road haulage firms, municipalities, and coach and taxi businesses. It has a network of 51 workshops including five repair shops, together with a central parts store which supplies all the division’s workshops with parts on a daily basis.
Fribourg (Switzerland): The bus station, at street level behind the railway station, is equipped with an underground maintenance and depot level just under the bus station (Figure 4‑1).
(left: bus station “Gare Routičre” seen from the underpass of the railway station, right: maintenance and depot at basement level)
Piešt’any (Slovakia) / Tabor (Czech Republic): Maintenance is offered for other fleets (e.g. lorries) and positive results are reported from both cities.
Schaffhausen/Neuhausen (Switzerland): Schaffhausen signed a service contract that allows it to test and to implement new products of the supplier. Furthermore, the operator broadened the services to other fleets.
A maintenance strategy is a maintenance method used in order to achieve maintenance objectives (EN 13306:2001), while the policy describes the interrelationship between who is to carry out maintenance, where to carry out maintenance and the set of actions to be carried out (BS 3811:1993).
Maintenance objectives are assigned targets accepted for the maintenance activities (EN 13306:2001). These targets may include e.g. availability, cost reduction, product quality, environmental protection, safety. The main goal of a dedicated workshop is to increase the bus availability and reliability.
Over the years several models and methods for good maintenance have been developed to measure and support fleet performance:
Curative / Corrective maintenance: Equipment and facilities are maintained, when a failure has already happened.
Predictive maintenance: helps determine the condition of in-service equipment in order to predict when maintenance should be performed.
Preventative maintenance: Equipment and facilities are maintained at regular intervals in accordance with the instructions, to prevent failures before they occur or before they develop into major defects.
Also, in recent years on-board auto-diagnostics and reliability-centred maintenance, on-line transmission, work tracking and cost control have been introduced by bigger operators in larger areas.