Preventive maintenance is a very common term across many different types of equipment; it even has the same meaning in health care in terms of prevention, or mitigating the risk, of disease. Riders employ this risk mitigation strategy for vehicles, to help prevent the occurrence of vehicle breakdowns (described later) from factors we can control. This involves putting a system in place to control factors of vehicle maintenance and servicing, which, if not addressed, could lead to breakdowns. So, a preventive maintenance system is designed to prevent stoppages that can be avoided. It also includes a quick systems recovery in the event of something happening which could not have been predicted (e.g. a puncture).
Preventive maintenance is a result of a predetermined need by a vehicle. This need is attended to in a maintenance unit or a site set aside for such. Preventive maintenance does not require complicated equipment. Complicated equipment can be considered a waste, as outsourcing for rare incidences is a cheaper alternative when considering the return on capital of that equipment.
Preventive maintenance involves changing an item or a part before it causes a vehicle to breakdown. This normally follows manufacturer’s recommendations, or what we recommend once we take into consideration the terrain factors in a particular geographical area.
Preventive maintenance is synonymous with servicing. There are two types of servicing, minor servicing and major servicing.
Minor servicing involves changing of oil, oil filters and greasing
Major servicing can be seen as minor servicing plus; meaning in addition to a minor service it will also include (for example) wheel hub and bearing servicing, or wheel alignment. These factors will be known before hand and predicted and thus predetermined.
a) Replacement parts
As the vehicle part is predetermined, we name it a replacement part rather than a spare part. This is because it replaces a worn vehicle part. A vehicle part is held as a spare in case something unforeseen happens.
A vehicle breakdown is the mechanical failure of a vehicle resulting in it being unavailable for its intended use. Breakdowns can be caused by many factors. Riders aim to control these factors to ensure that breakdowns are minimised. However, breakdowns can occur due to factors outside our control. If breakdowns occur due to anything outside our control e.g. manufacturers’ failures, we don’t consider it as a breakdown we can control.
c) what we can control
Training for vehicle users: Vehicle users are trained by Riders to drive/ride safely, carry out daily checks, and notify a technician of any anomaly on a vehicle.
Preventive maintenance conducted by trained technicians: Technicians are trained to follow predetermined schedules of maintenance and inspect signs or outcomes of adherence to daily checks when servicing.
Supply chain for genuine replacement parts: Riders has established supply chains for genuine replacement parts. If the correct replacement parts are not provided at the time and place, they are needed, this may result in a breakdown.
Programme/operations management: Oversight and coordination of the programme.
We mitigate the impact of technical failures by adjusting our schedules. If we notice a trend developing, Riders would notify manufacturers so that it feeds into their improvements. We have done this on a number of occasions, mostly notably with Yamaha, who changed the design on their oil pump and the tyres they put on their new AG100 in line with our recommendations.
Repair is synonymous with putting right what has broken. A repair implies that a breakdown has occurred, e.g. a vehicle has suddenly stopped and needs to be repaired so that it can start working again. Vehicles are repaired in a workshop which should be well equipped to be able to deal with any eventuality. Repair normally requires complicated equipment because it deals with the unknown, e.g. equipment to help in towing, diagnosis and putting right the problem. This naturally requires more time and is expensive to correct in relative terms. Generally, repairs can and should be outsourced to workshops with the capacity and equipment for this type of issue. As mentioned, this outsourcing is usually less expensive than procuring costly and sophisticated equipment for relatively low utilisation.
Downtime is linked to the operations of the specific vehicle and the tasks it has to do e.g. sample transport, emergency referrals, drug distribution etc. Downtime is inevitable. There are two kinds of downtime. One is planned (according to a schedule), which relates to planned preventive maintenance; the other is unplanned, connected to breakdowns and other unscheduled events, such as punctures. Downtime is when the vehicle is being serviced, as this takes away the vehicle from its normal duty. The difference is normally the time it takes; preventivemaintenance will have a shorter down time as compared to repairs.
Workshops And Vehicle Maintenance Units
At Riders we see vehicle ‘workshops’ to be affiliated with repairs and breakdowns. But since we advocate for preventive maintenance, we use the term vehicle maintenance units (VMU) to remind us that we generally maintain vehicles rather than repair them.
If we minimise breakdowns which are caused by factors we can control, breakdowns will be reduced to negligible levels. This is an aim of Riders preventive maintenance system. Riders will not be able to achieve this alone as we will need collaboration of all stakeholders, from drivers, transport managers, technicians, administrators and program (spelling programme earlier in document) managers.
Riders maintenance system is extremely effective. In the course of the first 10 million kilometres of the Riders TAM (leasing) system with the MoH in the Gambia, there were just two controllable breakdowns.