A “technical product evangelist” Infor EAM, Kevin Price has more than 20 years of experience in enterprise asset management (EAM) and is currently based out of the Infor EAM development hub in Greenville, South Carolina.

The personalized supply chain is not just a retail term anymore – truckers need to care about it too.

The concept of a personalized supply chain has been around for a long time in retail. To stay competitive, retailers have had to meet increasingly specific customer demands that include customization and fast turnaround without charging more for these services.

To survive in this atmosphere, retailers must know their products through and through to understand what they can change and how quickly.

In the same way, understanding assets – in this case, trucks and trailers – their condition and how to care for them are key factors in a trucker’s success. In this context, the “personalized supply chain” means having the vendors, processes, and tracking systems that can ensure the right materials, parts, and people are on hand when critical assets need maintenance and repair.

But what constitutes a critical asset?

A good definition is “an asset whose unscheduled downtime or failure would have a significant impact on safety, the environment, or operations.” Knowing where to invest time is perhaps the biggest challenge facing today’s truckers.

Once assets are identified in terms of their criticality, however, this challenge is mostly resolved: invest the most time with critical assets.

Reliability centered maintenance, or RCM, is built upon the idea of operating physical assets as efficiently as possible, including putting new assets into service quickly and accurately.

RCM requires in-depth knowledge of the asset hierarchy—the criticality and risk associated with each machine, vehicle, facility, and piece of equipment. Every other part of a successful asset management strategy will flow from this knowledge.

An obvious next step is to make sure the supply chain is set up to keep critical assets up and running. Some questions to ask:

  • Are the right spares and associated materials on hand?
  • And by contrast, is there inventory on hand that is obsolete or a duplicate of something else?
  • Do the parts and materials meet any required manufacturer’s specifications to ensure expected performance and preserve warranties?
  • Is there ever a time substitute parts that are 90% or 80% equivalents to the OEM parts can or should be used?
  • Are vendors reliable in terms of quality, value, responsiveness, and delivery time?
  • Are the proper vendors being used based on the products they provide and any purchasing agreements that might be in place?
  • Do the people who service the assets – whether internal or external – possess the required training and certifications?
  • Are they available when needed, and located where they can easily get to the critical assets?
  • Are there any known risks or hazards in the supply chain?

In a trucking operation, the inventory needed for preventive maintenance on critical assets might include tires, brake pads, rotors, suspensions, special fluids, bulbs, other electrical components, and body parts.

They may be manufactured for a very specific purpose or for a specific vehicle, but they need to be replaced at the right intervals, based on each unique condition, to ensure maximum uptime.

Enterprise asset management (EAM) software that can scale as organization and maintenance needs grow should be a key part of any fleet manager’s plan.

This type of software supports a personalized supply chain by helping determine the condition of an asset, when it was last serviced, and whether any environmental conditions have changed that would affect its performance.

Such system also track every asset, large and small, as well as associated materials, suppliers, substitute parts, location of parts, and the location and details of external repair and maintenance shops.

For example, if an 18-wheeler needs service out on the road, where is the closest facility that has a bay large enough to accommodate it? And is the bay available? Do their techs have the right certifications and tools?

The EAM solution should also help analyze the data fleet managers collect from a telemetry system to determine asset location and health, as well as the best time to schedule repairs.

Personalizing fleet management supply chain means knowing the parts, materials, suppliers, tools, technicians, maintenance intervals, software, and other resources that will keep critical assets performing at optimum levels for as long as possible.