For UPS, the answers to these questions lie in the company's preventive maintenance inspection (PMI) process, which ensures peak performance and resolves issues before they become expensive problems. This rigorous process has been so effective over the years that other companies and government agencies have consulted with UPS's automotive engineers and adopted the company's maintenance procedures.
Already an industry gold standard, UPS just completed a three-month reengineering of the preventive maintenance process for its 70,000 delivery vehicles. The results are notable: improved methods for mechanics, the reduction of oil usage and disposal by 330,000 quarts each year and savings of almost $3 million annually.
"For UPS, the reliability of our delivery fleet is paramount," said UPS Automotive Engineering Vice President Ron Kirby. "In conjunction with our drivers, our vehicles are critical tools in making commerce happen every day for our customers. Taking care of our fleet is a business imperative for the company and our customers.
"We've also shown that significant environmental gains can be made by focusing on quality maintenance methods," Kirby continued. "State-of-the-art maintenance procedures reduce fuel consumption and oil usage resulting in lower emissions. And reducing UPS's impact on the environment is a strategic objective of the company."
UPS's Automotive Study Group, an innovation "go team" in the company's Automotive Engineering Department, evaluated every aspect of the PMI process from oil changes and lubrication systems to warranty tracking. In addition, intensive time and motion studies were conducted to optimize each step a mechanic takes while performing the inspection.
The redesigned process is built around the individual characteristics of UPS's delivery fleet, essentially giving each vehicle its own fingerprint. Through rigorous part testing, real-time duty cycle analysis and fleet-wide assessments, the Study Group developed a detailed matrix of vehicle characteristics, including engine type, vehicle group, miles driven, days of service and manufacturers' recommendations for oil changes and other types of engine service. It was this process, for example, that allowed UPS to better gauge how frequently a vehicle type needs an oil change. Some vehicles were found to need less frequent oil changes, providing the net savings of 330,000 quarts.
All vehicle characteristics are tracked by the company's proprietary Automotive Information System (AIS) software, a key factor in the success of UPS's maintenance programs. AIS tracks all aspects of fleet maintenance and notifies mechanics when a specific vehicle should come in for a preventive maintenance inspection. AIS removes the guesswork in planning labor for vehicle repairs, maintaining parts inventory and estimating fuel usage. The software also allows engineers to pinpoint trends and constantly refine methods and specifications.
"UPS's delivery fleet is clearly one of the company's most valuable assets," said Kirby. "The exhaustive vehicle analysis performed by our Automotive Information System allows us to manage those assets with one-of-a-kind maintenance procedures."
UPS is the world's largest package delivery company and a global leader in supply chain services, offering an extensive range of options for synchronizing the movement of goods, information and funds. Headquartered in Atlanta, Ga., UPS serves more than 200 countries and territories worldwide. UPS's stock trades on the New York Stock Exchange (UPS), and the company can be found on the Web at UPS.com.
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