HGV operators increasingly are choosing to outsource the repair and maintenance of their vehicles, a survey by Commercial Motor and Motor Transport has found.
The report concludes: “There was a time when most operators would have their own workshops, but it is clear that outsourcing is now the dominant approach – notably through main dealerships.
“A significant proportion of those operators that continue to run their own workshops said they did so because they always do it that way and they had the facilities in place. But the world is changing. Alternative fuels are becoming more common, and new technologies such as electric trucks are on the horizon. At some point, operators who currently have their own workshops will have to decide whether to invest in equipment to support these new technologies or to go down the outsourcing route.”
Around two thirds of operators who took part in the survey said they now send their vehicles off-site for repairs and maintenance. Among these operators, and larger operators in particular, main dealerships were their preferred destination for one third of the survey’s participants. Of those that choose to outsource, the vast majority had an R&M contract. Only about one in five did it on an ad-hoc basis without a contract.
Many operators who outsource (44%) said they preferred the full package approach, including for example roadside repairs, zero tolerance on downtime, etc. Meanwhile, 29% preferred a mid-range option including maintenance, service, and warranty extensions, while 27% wanted a basic contract including MOTs, preventative maintenance and tachograph calibration.
Asked why the preferred a particular package, the most popular responses were cost-effectiveness (47%), reducing downtime (30%) and maintaining compliance (20%). Surprisingly perhaps, just 2% mentioned residual values – surprising because it is such a critical factor in operators’ cost calculations.
Payment methods varied considerably. The most popular choice, for smaller operators especially, was contracts based on a price per truck (54%), followed by price per month (34%) which was more popular with larger operators. A small minority (7%) opted for contracts based on a price per kilometre. The main factor governing operators’ choices was the ability to budget with a fixed-cost solution, ahead of keeping costs consistent over a fixed term and a clear cost structure.