COMPANY: Greater Cleveland Regional Transit Authority

OPERATION: GCRTA is the public transit provider for Cleveland, OH, and surrounding areas, serving 150,000 to 200,000 customers each weekday and offering bus, light rail, heavy rail, and paratransit services.

THE CHALLENGE: DESIGN PREDICTIVE MAINTENANCE FOR BUSES

Until June 2015, GCRTA’s fleet maintenance program was built around preventive and corrective maintenance, according to Ron Baron, director of fleet management.

The former included visual inspections, oil changes and component lubrication on a defined time or mileage interval, and the latter was repair of components that fail in between those intervals.

Looking to reduce corrective maintenance as well as improve service reliability, forecasting and management of fleet lifecycle costs, and also extend bus life, GCRTA explored predictive maintenance. The idea was to help reduce capital, operating, and inventory costs.

GCRTA found it had the information needed to develop predictive maintenance, as well as the staff expertise to interpret and develop a predictive maintenance program plan for its fleet of buses. But there was concern about the time frame for implementation and integration of predictive maintenance if done solely by internal personnel. The question wasn’t whether the GCRTA staff was capable, but how long it would take for the program to be developed and implemented—and benefits realized.

THE SOLUTION: GET HELP AND GO LIVE WITH PROGRAMS FLEET BY FLEET

GCRTA turned to CodeRed Business Solutions to develop a comprehensive predictive maintenance program plan, Baron explained. A successful plan had to address a number of items, like vehicle lifecycle costs and extending vehicle life 25% beyond that stated by the manufacturer.

Along with existing policies, operating procedures, and manuals, GCRTA provided information to CodeRed including historical vehicle mileage, detailed part usage by sub fleets, and fleet maintenance records. As a program was completed for each sub fleet, GCRTA’s inventory department took suggested parts lists and developed parts kits as needed for systems such as brakes, engine, steering, transmission, or HVAC.

In June 2014, mileage between service interruption, or MBSI, for GCRTA’s big bus fleet was averaging about 5,000 miles. The most important areas GCRTA was looking to improve were vehicle reliability and lifecycle cost forecasting and budgeting. While the implementation of predictive maintenance is still in its early stages at GCRTA, the agency has seen some “tremendous” results, according to Baron, especially in those two areas.

Prior to implementing the predictive maintenance program on a six-year-old bus fleet, the average MBSI for those vehicles was 2,800 miles. After 18 months, buses on the predictive maintenance program achieved an average MBSI upwards of 6,800 miles—a nearly 150% increase in reliability. The same buses have also experienced a corresponding reduction in corrective maintenance work orders of 12%.

Meanwhile, GCRTA’s inventory department ended 2016 with a positive balance in its operating budget for the first time in more than a decade. That’s no insignificant point, since running out of money means not buying parts, which in turn leads to downed buses and lost service for customers.

Accurate inventory budgeting allows GCRTA to better plan its expenditures and prevents the need for “finding” money to augment parts purchases every year. It also means improved parts availability and predictability of parts needs, along with reduced on-hand inventory.

Predictive maintenance implementation has been well-received and is progressing at a steady rate, Baron noted.

The organization now sees the move to contract with a vendor to begin the program as being “the right decision.” The move shortened the implementation time significantly and laid the program framework for GCRTA’s remaining and future bus fleets.