Geotab's Second Brunch Hub

Geotab's Second Brunch Hub: How United Utilities benefited by moving to predictive maintenance

Published on November 9, 2023 in Fleet Management by Geotab Team |  3 minute read


Learn about predictive maintenance benefits and cost savings, as discussed at Geotab’s Brunch Hub event.

Geotab returns with another roundtable Brunch Hub event, bringing together fleet managers across the UK to collaborate, and share best practices to solve some of the greatest challenges facing the UK fleet industry.

 

In their second Brunch Hub on September 21st, 2023, United Utilities shared how they improved their service, maintenance and repair procedures with the help of the telematics data provided by Vodafone Business Fleet Analytics (powered by Geotab). The session was led by Carl Doyle, Green Fleet Business Lead, and Andrew Goodwin, Fleet Maintenance Technical Lead from United Utilities.

Targets to reduce repair costs and improve vehicle availability

United Utilities have set bold targets to reduce their repair costs and vehicle downtime by 20% by implementing a predictive maintenance programme. With Geotab’s GO9 devices installed in all 2,300+ fleet vehicles, including cars, LCVs and HGVs, they now have access to the data to support this goal, with real-time vehicle diagnostics insights sent straight to United Utilities’ maintenance garages. 

Reactive vs predictive maintenance

A reactive maintenance schedule means that vehicles are taken off the road as and when they present with faults or suffer a breakdown. The implications of this form of maintenance schedule can be huge for United Utilities, risking non-compliance with their service level agreements, spiralling and unbudgeted repair costs, and a struggle to find resources to cover vehicles when they’re off the road. 

 

In contrast, by implementing a predictive maintenance program with the help of MyGeotab’s fleet maintenance software, United Utilities are now able to monitor vehicles in real-time and make informed decisions to resolve problems before they happen. United Utilities' drivers can now rely on their vehicles with confidence. This proactive approach not only improves safety but also ensures that spending on repairs is planned and budgeted for, providing a smoother optimised operation for the company.

The implications of having vehicles off the road (VOR)

United Utilities are subject to a £15,600 penalty per second above the target for average Customer Minutes Lost (CML) across their network, imposed by the regulator, OFWAT.

 

To minimise the instances of CML, the company uses Alternative Supply Vehicles (ASVs) to inject water into the network to maintain a water supply due to planned pipe replacements, and reactive mains pipe bursts. However, some of those ASVs are over 12 years old, so proactive maintenance is key to reducing VOR instances. 

 

Meanwhile, their Bioresources team has to move wastewater sludge between sites to avoid overcapacity and spills, and to ensure that product is moved to the Bioresource centre to produce biomethane. This gas is then used to create heat for the wastewater treatment process, and to generate electricity to power their sites. Extended, unplanned VOR means they need to outsource work to third-party contractors at a cost of over £800 per day, per truck. 

A real-life example of the costs of failure caused by reactive maintenance 

One of United Utilities’ Volvo FMs suffered engine failure. The truck had a low annual mileage and was serviced periodically, every 25,000-30,000km. However, the truck engine runs to power the pumps for 5-10 hours per day. These engine hours were not visible to the maintenance team before the Geotab GO9 devices were fitted, and the truck was VOR for 23 days whilst undergoing repairs, costing the business £60,000 for repairs, and for outsourcing jobs to third-party contractors.

All their trucks are now serviced based on a Geotab engine hours report. This proactive maintenance has greatly reduced the risk of engine failure, reducing the instance of VOR and resulting in substantial cost savings. 

Examples of proactive vehicle monitoring

MyGeotab’s reports are now used to monitor live vehicle health, with engine management light (EML) alerts flagged and triaged by the team, depending on severity.  
 

This monitoring includes: 

Engine temperature warning: Vehicles are immediately brought in for inspection to correct the fault. This avoids customer impact due to missed jobs, and potential van engine costs of c. £7,000, up to £30,000 for an HGV engine.

Low battery voltage: This has reduced lost engineer hours due to proactive charging and/or replacement of vehicle batteries. 
 

Geotab and United Utilities also discussed additional future insights that rely on a deeper technical understanding of vehicle data and would allow fleet managers to be much more proactive and preventative in their maintenance approach. For example, when fleet managers fully understand the function of the diesel particulate filter (DPF), and how accidental or deliberate misuse may result in vehicle downtime and additional maintenance costs, they are better equipped to spot the early warning signs of a DPF that is susceptible to failure. 
 

Bringing the benefits of predictive maintenance to the mobile plant

The next step is to bring the same benefits they’ve seen with their road-going assets to their mobile plant equipment. United Utilities are currently having 40 JCB Telehandlers and Tractors fitted with the GO9 RUGGED unit. This will give them the data to better utilise their assets and spread operational wear across the group, while preventing isolated overuse and premature replacement before the financial asset life has been reached. 

From a maintenance perspective, it will allow United Utilities to:

  • Implement proactive maintenance based on engine hours 
  • Improve their operator defect process
  • Get real-time visibility on fault codes
  • Receive instant high-temperature alerts

“This was another great brunch session, hosted by Geotab. The operational and financial savings related to implementing a predictive maintenance schedule are considerable and I enjoyed sharing the strategies we’re implementing with the support of Geotab’s fleet management platform. It was also great to learn how other fleet operators are using the platform.” 
– Carl Doyle, United Utilities.

 

Don't miss out on Geotab's next Brunch Hub event. Register your interest here and join in this valuable collaborative experience!


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Disclaimer

Geotab's blog posts are intended to provide information and encourage discussion on topics of interest to the telematics community at large. Geotab is not providing technical, professional or legal advice through these blog posts. While every effort has been made to ensure the information in this blog post is timely and accurate, errors and omissions may occur, and the information presented here may become out-of-date with the passage of time.

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