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March 06, 2012  |   Comments (2)   |   Post a comment

Skilled techs keep fleets top-notch

Pupil transporters say that technicians should have a desire to learn, and they discuss methods and resources for instruction. They also say that employee communication, a strong preventive maintenance program and performance benchmarking are essential to achieving well-maintained school buses.

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Officials say that automated programs can assist in tracking work and maintaining inventory. Dean Transportation Inc. in Lansing, Mich., is a paperless operation through the entire work order process.
<p>Officials say that automated programs can assist in tracking work and maintaining inventory. Dean Transportation Inc. in Lansing, Mich., is a paperless operation through the entire work order process.</p>

Here are additional practices that can help to maximize safety and efficiency:

Understand your state’s inspection regulations. Carney says that the Ohio Highway Patrol’s (OHP) inspection booklet changes slightly every year, so his technicians obtain a new copy annually and review it to make sure that they’re familiar with the OHP’s regulations.

Standardize your fleet. Duquette says that once Liverpool Central School District standardized to one bus body and two or three engine types, it resulted in a reduction of about 17 percent per year in standing inventory over a  10-year phase-in period. “At one point we had about $500,000 in inventory, and we’re down to about $120,000,” he says.

Perform maintenance in house. Both French and Patrick say that most of their operations’ vehicle maintenance is performed in house, including almost all warranty work at Volusia County Schools. French says this saves the cost of transporting the bus to a service center and minimizes downtime, and labor is reimbursed at competitive door rates.

“Performing complex repairs under warranty helps enhance the technicians’ skills, and we want to make sure we’re prepared for the day those buses are no longer under warranty,” he adds.

Be open-minded. Pellerito recommends spending time evaluating new technology for technicians based on what you can accommodate with your budget.

“Allow all employees to be a part of the decision-making process, and allow management personnel to think outside of the norm,” he adds.

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Read more about: preventive maintenance

Staying current on new technology such as multiplexing and newer exhaust aftertreatment is key. I work for the number two contracter in the country and we really need to get people at the top who understand techs need training and that we need to standardize our fleets to one manufacturer as that would greatly improve down time and streamline our parts inventory. Sadly most senior management at these big bus companys have never stepped foot on a school bus.

Karl Graham    |    Mar 14, 2012 06:30 AM

Having held two ASE master certifications and a transit specilist certifications for years it has helped to keep yourself in check. You find out where your weak spots are with your knowledge and study more to become proficient. Just recently with a 444E computer replacement - would run on 6 cylinders no matter what. You could switch injectors around from a working cylinder and they would then not work. Come to find out International down loaded a program for a 466E into a 444E computer. Then the computer could not and would not re-flash to the correct program. This is a very rare issue but after all your knowledge and training you must have confidence in your abilities to diagnose electronics. With computer well over $1,000 a pop you can't afford to make mistakes. Just so you know study up on the new hybrid type vehicles and follow the warnings so as not to be electrocuted. This is a very serious field to work in automotive anymore. The more you know the better you'll be. Dan Luttrell, Bedford, IN.

Dan Luttrell    |    Mar 09, 2012 08:36 AM

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