Why are Commercial Vehicle Breakdowns more complex?

Call center agent, response personnel working on breakdown alerts for Right Now Response, for fast response on a breakdown

A roadside breakdown is a breakdown, or is it? Fleet owners know. 70% of commercial vehicles roadside breakdowns follow a similar procedure; report breakdown, assign mechanic, attend vehicle, require more parts, fix vehicle or tow to the workshop. Standard. But the 30%? It may just cripple your business. Hindered multiple stakeholder visibility, complex decision-making structures (including payment structures) and a myriad of inter-supplier communication provide a melting pot of often, inaction on the road, reducing up-time for customers. Problems in commercial vehicle roadside breakdowns include:

1) Roadside breakdowns are traditionally geared towards passenger vehicles:

The commercial vehicle breakdown model is different. It compromises the obvious steps, but not the decision-making nuances. Pick towing for example, does the tow truck need a permit to be allowed on-site? Who and how is this communicated? Who chases the mechanic or the truck? The complexity of commercial vehicle breakdowns, stakeholders required, and complexity of jobs require immediate decisions need to be made.

2) Multiple stakeholders complicate visibility: 

Coupled with complex lines of departmental design and responsibility, suppliers and customers are often reduced to “Whatsapp” groups to manage breakdowns in an informal reactive setting, rather than a collaborative and visible one. Frustrations on an open platform without the correct party(ies) involvement are often counter-productive to vehicle up-time. Analyzing elements of a breakdown is limited to a customer or supplier scrolling through several messages, choosing the right answer rather than analysing the breakdown end-to-end.

 3) Workshop challenges: 

Recent shifts in the current economic climate have reduced staffing and in cases productive staff, such as mechanics. Visibility of breakdown workload and optimizing technicians to perform breakdowns urgently have become business-critical. This visibility and the breaking down of the breakdown process from end to end has become vital to optimize human and technical resources and to improve efficiencies in each step of the breakdown process.

4) Safety Challenges: 

Fleet owners’ concerns about their respective drivers and loads include safety as a primary requirement in Southern Africa. Mechanics dispatched to a vehicle involved in looting are subject to dangers that at times make it impossible for safe retrieval of the vehicle. Relationships and visibility of Service Providers such as towing companies to tow vehicles in unsafe areas have become business-critical.

 Commercial vehicles’ roadside breakdowns are different. The complexity, decision-making, and involvement of stakeholders hold precedence in the potential undoing of a logistics model. Visibility allows everyone to take action, rather than waiting until it is just too late.


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