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Blog August 2023

ATA TMC's VMRS Program – The Foundation of AMCS Fleet Maintenance

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Bob Hausler

Vice President Transport, North America, AMCS

To effectively manage something as intricate as a fleet of complex vehicles, everyone involved needs to speak the same language. The Vehicle Maintenance Reporting Standards, more commonly known as VMRS, is that language. VMRS is an integral element of the AMCS Fleet Maintenance Solution.

Developed by the American Trucking Associations’ (ATA) Technology and Maintenance Council (TMC), VMRS serves as a universal language for maintenance personnel, computers, and management across the surface transportation industry. Equipment users worldwide use VMRS to capture and report their vehicle maintenance activities. Equipment manufacturers use the system for parts and assemblies, as well as warranty management.

Jack Poster, VMRS services manager for the TMC, describes the system’s enduring, widespread usage this way: “It’s pretty amazing, this system was developed in 1970 to provide a single, coding convention to manage fleets’ assets and analyze maintenance operations costs and it’s still going strong. And we’re always adding new codes.”

AMCS Fleet Maintenance fully embraces VMRS so you can easily harness its power to analyze your maintenance parts and labor spending, maximize efficiencies, streamline processes, and keep your business moving forward.

From the Big Picture to Every Detail

A vehicle is more than just a year, make, and model of equipment. It’s a unique series of components assembled to perform a specific task. VMRS enables you to monitor the lifecycle and performance of each of these components – both on an independent basis or as a total unit. The sum of the costs of maintaining all of those components represents total vehicle maintenance cost.

But VMRS isn’t just for classifying your assets. Through its many code keys, it also delivers a consistent method to capture activity such as what work was done (Work Accomplished Codes), and why (Failure Codes), plus much more.

14 Reasons VMRS is Right for Your Fleet

  1. It’s easy for everyone to use—For an information system to be truly useful, it has to work at both the shop and management levels. VMRS provides thorough, accurate information that mechanics can quickly understand and act upon. At the same time, it provides management with a clear picture of what their mechanics have accomplished.
  2. It’s cost effective—TMC undertook the initial early development costs of the system. Over decades of continuous use, its practicality and usefulness have been thoroughly proven. TMC keeps the system dynamic, eliminating the need for individual users to continually research and update their systems.
  3. It aligns with accepted accounting practices—Structured VMRS code makes it easy for users to meet the needs of most recognized accounting disciplines. And, it gives accounting teams the flexibility to dissect the data to meet both immediate and long-term needs.
  4. It enables sound cost management—VMRS provides a solid framework for cost capture and reporting. Your maintenance system should be able to show you your total spend organized by VMRS for an individual asset or your entire fleet. This allows you to see if certain asset types or brands have higher costs and in what areas. Looking at these costs along with your PM compliance analysis may reveal that your PM strategy and intervals needs to be re-evaluated if high-cost breakdown are occurring in-between PMs.
  5. It helps classify costs—Detailed records of the maintenance activity of both vehicles and facilities makes it easy to see where money is going, when repairs were performed, and what specific expenses were involved. Because distribution between parts and labor is an inherent part of the VMRS reporting structure, it’s easy to analyze what’s occurred and when, so you can determine the cause-and-effect relationship of maintenance activity.
  6. It improves facility management—VMRS is an ideal foundation for establishing a facility management program. The coding structure provides the basis for complete labor and material distribution, both direct and indirect, enabling management to analyze each cost segment in detail. Management can then use that information to determine which actions are needed to make desired corrections. The same information also provides input for most purchasing decisions.
  7. It tracks labor distribution—VMRS provides complete labor distribution detail, covering both direct and indirect labor.
  8. It streamlines parts inventory—The VMRS system was developed, and is used across the industry, as the basis of many successful parts inventory control systems. Some fleets have developed their own systems using VMRS, while others utilize off-the-shelf programs designed and built around the VMRS coding structure. VMRS provides detailed information on parts use, thus identifying which parts should be inventoried and which should be procured on an “as required” basis. For companies in states with an Inventory Tax, VMRS provides documented back-up.
  9. It supports warranty claims—The VMRS coding structure enables you to record and isolate costs normally associated with warranties. Because it’s universally accepted by vehicle manufacturers and industry suppliers, VMRS provides the ideal audit trail for instituting and supporting warranty claims.
  10. It helps benchmark equipment and labor productivity—VMRS enables you to evaluate the relationship between direct and indirect labor, so you can implement changes as needed; establish parts/labor ratios that provide the lowest overall maintenance costs; determine the economic breakpoint between parts replacement and parts repair; and understand how vehicle utilization is impacted by maintenance. VMRS even empowers you to record downtime and identify specific reasons for excessive delays.
  11. It helps benchmark component performance—VMRS measures the performance and reliability of specific components and/or parts, enabling you to distinguish between a first failure (normally attributed to the equipment manufacturer) and a subsequent failure (normally attributed to maintenance).
  12. It informs equipment replacement decisions—VMRS provides the framework to capture and classify all work done over the life of an asset. This not only gives you the ability to see analysis at a high level and drill into detail, but also delivers the insightful information needed for life-cycle decision making. For example, the engine hours on an asset indicate that it’s time for an engine overhaul. By searching your history for work orders matching VMRS codes 045-020-001 and 045-019-004 you can see all engine overhauls and replacements for the life of that asset. You can then make an informed decision about whether to proceed with the overhaul, replace the engine, or retire the asset.
  13. It simplifies reporting requirements—VMRS makes it easier to fulfill the ever-changing reporting requirements dictated by government agencies.
  14. Compatible software helps you get even more from VMRS—Many software suppliers offer complete turnkey VMRS-based maintenance programs, which gives you the power of VMRS right out of the box..

    A System that Works with You

    Because VMRS is a structured coding system, it delivers the discipline and flexibility necessary to operate as either a completely computer-based system, or as a manual system. VMRS can be used at any level, from a comprehensive operating system to the individual part level – it’s up to you. No matter which level you’re using, the data collected can be compared directly to data collected by others at the same or higher VMRS coding level. The coding structure encompasses most equipment in use today, including trucks, tractors, trailers, forklifts, shop equipment, refuse equipment, off-road vehicles, and more.

    Although VMRS is very comprehensive and the TMC adds new entries quickly, sometimes companies need to add a few custom codes. AMCS Fleet Maintenance enables users to add their own entries to the code key tables at any time, without the hassle of redesigning the coding structure or the cost of implementing a new scheme. Users can also suppress any of the TMC’s codes that they don’t use to make the lists shorter and more easily managed.

    What’s new in VMRS?

    The TMC continually updates VMRS to ensure it meets the evolving needs of the industry. User feedback is an important part of that effort. As Jack Poster explains, ““It takes more than one person. It’s a community of users collaborating. Anybody that uses VMRS is involved in helping to keep the system current.”

    Based on user requests, VMRS upgrades have included:

    • Growth capacity for up to 1000 vehicle systems: The addition of a ninth digit to the basic eight-digit codes (known as Code Key 33) delivered a 900 percent increase in the number of vehicle systems VMRS accommodates.
    • Greater consistency: Elimination of discrepancies in coding, language, descriptions, etc., provides better alignment with industry-wide convention.
    • A more powerful corporate identifier: A revised Code Key 34, used to identify manufacturers, suppliers, and brands, is based on the Dun and Bradstreet “DUNS Number™,” an internationally recognized corporate identifier. The system still retains the five-character alpha manufacturer code used since 1970, which is preferred by most fleets. But, the new nine-digit identifier pinpoints parent-subsidiary relationships and provides vital statistics on the organizations.
    • Clear, pre-defined descriptions save time: Using VMRS coding means that your technicians and others who enter data dramatically reduce typing time and errors. Instead of typing in the work that was done (or filling in paper form), the tech simply taps or clicks on the appropriate Work Accomplished code. As noted above, this has the additional benefit of data consistency meaning better reporting and analysis.
    • More precise position identification: With the addition of Position Codes to Code Key 79, users can identify positions based on industry-accepted conventions.
    • Increased warranty support: New warranty-related Code Keys, such as Code Key 81: Type of Claim, help users make the most of their warranty coverage.
    • An improved Implementation Handbook: Upgraded text and graphics get you up and running quickly, and a digital version easily integrates into existing computer systems.
    • A more flexible licensing program: A wider range of licensing options encourages consistent industry use of VMRS.

    Conclusion

    Equipment and maintenance are a major component of any fleet’s data reporting and analysis effort. Comprehensive data that’s easy to access and understand serves as the basis of a smart business strategy. The AMCS Fleet Maintenance platform delivers the benefits of VMRS coding to your team, your fleet – and you.

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