The Key to a Healthy Fleet


Back when I wore a flight suit to work, a good day at the office included a couple of hours of paperwork in my collateral duty, another couple of hours counseling troops or working on deployment schemes, and somewhere in between a couple of hops to hone my flying skills. Pretty cushy schedule, you might think—four hours of work and a couple of dinky training (or in the latter stages, combat) flights—but that doesn’t quite tell the story.

The total time involvement for a 1.5-hour flight worked out to something in the neighborhood of four hours:

This is neither the time nor place to discuss maintenance problems.

This is neither the time nor place to discuss maintenance problems.

• 45 minutes for mission planning and prebriefing;

• 30 minutes for suiting up, reviewing the aircraft’s discrepancy log; preflighting the bird, firing up, taxiing out, and going through the runup checks;

• 90 minutes from brake release to landing roll-out;

• 30 minutes to de-arm, taxi in, shut down, postflight the bird, fill out the discrepancy log (perhaps discuss a gripe with a mechanic), make a pit stop, and grab something to drink; and, finally,

• 45 minutes to an hour to do a thorough debrief…second in importance only to completing the entire evolution without crashing. Not every sortie went like this—some were a lot longer—but you get the picture.

What I hope you caught among the details above was my mention of a discussion with the maintenance folks about the health of the aircraft, but rather than an incidental part of the evolution, it was an element critical to the success of the unit (squadron), in recognition of which we were encouraged to treat the activity as if we were getting paid by the word . . . particularly if there was a potential safety-of-flight issue involved.

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So here’s my point: Are you making certain that communication between your vehicle operators and maintenance technicians are given the importance they deserve in keeping your fleet’s chassis, powertrains, hydraulics, and bodies in good working order? I hope so, since it’s part of the equation that allows your drivers and vehicles to work safely and return home each day in the same condition as when they started.

One of the foundations of good fleet maintenance lies in making sure your drivers know what they should be looking for and that they’re trained to recognize and report the first signs of trouble before minor problems becomes major ones.

Without proper communications, hours of downtime can quickly turn into days or weeks of redlined equipment, and repair costs can grow from hundreds of dollars into the thousands. Who’s going to tell you about how your trucks are holding up, so that you can make well-informed, cost-effective solutions to nip a problem in the bud before it gets out of hand? The answer is that it’s the people who drive them, or work in the street behind them…and no amount of money spent on cutting-edge technology or expert repair technicians can measure up to the potential savings that your collection force can provide for you through accurate, up-to-date information about what’s happening out on the route.  MSW_bug_web


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