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Unscheduled repair costs continue to rise in trucking industry

An unscheduled mechanical repair for heavy-duty commercial vehicles rose 24% to an average of $407 in the third quarter of 2019, from the same period in 2018, according to a new report on roadside maintenance.

The American Trucking Associations’ Technology & Maintenance Council and FleetNet America, a company of Fort Smith-based ArcBest, released Sunday (Feb. 23) a benchmarking report on roadside repairs for the third quarter of 2019. The average cost of a mechanical roadside repair exceeded $400 for the first time since the Technology & Maintenance Council and FleetNet started its Vertical Benchmarking Program in 2017.

“Cost per repair looks like a permanent headwind our industry is facing, and it would be advantageous to fleets to seek to address this,” said Robert Braswell, executive director for the Technology & Maintenance Council. “The TMC/FleetNet Vertical Benchmarking Program is a TMC member benefit designed to help fleets deal with increasing costs by having fewer unscheduled roadside repairs.”

The report looks at repair costs in the truckload, less-than-truckload and tank sectors and shows roadside repairs vary across all three sectors. The average truckload carrier had more roadside repairs and fewer miles between breakdowns than the average less-than-truckload or tank fleet. The top truckload carrier, however, outperformed the average less-than-truckload or tank fleet in some cases.

“There is a wide variance between the performance of the average fleet and the best-in-class carrier in each vertical,” said Jim Buell, executive vice president of sales and marketing for FleetNet America. “This is a pretty good indication that our industry has room to reduce maintenance costs by closing the gap between the average and best-in-class fleets.”

Five systems accounted for 64% of all roadside repairs in the third quarter of 2019, including tires, brakes, lighting, power plant and cooling systems, according to a news release. TMC fleet members receive an executive summary of the report, and carriers who participate in the Vertical Benchmarking Program by sharing their data are provided an analytic tool that allows them to drill into their data, comparing it to the industry average.

Between 2012 and 2018, repair and maintenance costs for the trucking industry rose 24% to 17.1 cents per mile, according to a recent report released by American Transportation Research Institute.

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