Aftermarket Bus and Coach Features & Interviews Trailer Truck Van

Are clever heavies too complex for operator technicians?

18 February 2014 #Aftermarket #Bus and Coach #Features & Interviews #Trailer #Truck #Van

Vans, trucks, buses and coaches are becoming ever more sophisticated and complex in the hunt for extra economy and lower emissions.

Have they become too complex to maintain in-house? Manufacturers offer compelling repair and maintenance contracts, but does their expertise limit the flexibility and freedom of doing it yourself?


For many operators investing in their commercial vehicle fleet, the inclusion of a repair and maintenance (R&M) package as part of the deal provides welcome peace of mind.

The introduction of Euro-6 – with its requirements for additional technology to achieve optimum exhaust gas recirculation (EGR) and selective catalytic reduction (SCR) – could see even higher numbers of HGV fleets operators in particular turning to manufacturer maintenance packages.

The technology is new to many truck and bus operators, so having the vehicle manufacturer take care of servicing and maintenance is well worth paying for according to a chorus of fleet managers.

MAN is just one of the truck manufacturers that recognises this appetite and consequently introduced Warranty Xtra when it launched its Euro-6 range of heavy-duty vehicles.

“The integration of EGR and SCR might be new to most in the industry, but it’s not new to us,” said MAN Truck and Bus UK’s CEO, Des Evans. “We have been pioneering the technologies for 18 years or so, and we believe we are ready. The challenge now is to ensure that our customers are also ready.”

For those operators that maybe aren’t quite ready, but need to upgrade their fleet with Euro-6 models, Warranty Xtra will have extra appeal. The package will principally cover three areas for a three-year period from original purchase: a standard warranty; engine oil servicing; and roadside assistance and recovery. Failures due to mechanical defect or manufacturing fault are covered under the package, on all MAN Euro-6 models.

Factory fitted components will be used as replacements, while the engine oil service covers the oil and oil filter, fuel filter, checking and adjusting valve clearances, and parts and labour costs.

It’s an appealing proposition then for those that are willing to pass over maintenance responsibilities. There are many cases, however, where the numbers don’t add up, or fleet managers have the confidence in their own workshop technicians to go it alone, and handle repair and maintenance work in-house.

Certainly, with the rise of irtec, the technician licensing scheme developed by the Institute of Road Transport Engineers (IRTE) and administered by Institute of the Motor Industry (IMI), this remains a viable option.

The scheme has a fan in Ray Engley, Head of Technical Services at the Road Haulage Association (RHA). “The RHA Board has been keen to identify a standard that can assist members in choosing a provider and the irtec standard does just that,” he says.

The scheme is open to those technicians working for manufacturers, of course, but also the independent technicians and they all of them go through the same level of training.

“Hauliers should always actively manage their vehicle maintenance arrangements, because they remain responsible in law for the condition of their vehicles at all times, regardless of who is carrying out the maintenance,” continues Engley.

“In cases where standards do not meet regulatory requirements, or maintenance records are inadequately kept, it is the haulier’s licence to operate that is at risk.”

So much for heavy work, but what about vans and buses? Are the manufacturers moving into this territory too?

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