All Aboard The Uptime Express
Volvo Trucks Uptime Services helps trucking operators keep their businesses moving. One of them is Alabama Motor Express.
The family-owned business Alabama Motor Express started out in the 1980s with just a handful of trucks. Today, the business has grown into a huge operation with 310 employees and a fleet of 240 trucks – and 70 percent are Volvos.
“I’ve been around the company my whole life,” says Taylor White, who shares the role of vice president of Alabama Motor Express with his brother Collins White, “and there were times when we were 100 percent Volvo and times when we were 40 percent Volvo. But if somebody asked me for the most dependable truck, I would definitely say, hands-down, Volvo.”
In addition to the brand’s quality, Taylor White says he now has another reason to choose Volvo: The new 123,000-square-foot Uptime Center, located at the Volvo headquarters in Greensboro, North Carolina, has brought together under one roof the 700 people who are dedicated to helping customers like AMX improve their uptime.
As with any large fleet, AMX’s trucks have occasional mechanical issues, and Taylor White says the company uses the services provided by the Uptime Center. A recent incident reminded him of how much he relies upon the service and the important role it plays in AMX operations.
A driver was out on a long haul when his truck signaled a transmission problem, immediately sending an email to AMX and triggering a case number with the Volvo Action Service (VAS) agent at the Uptime Center. A Volvo Action Service agent noted his location and called the nearest dealer for the necessary part, but it was on backorder and would take a week to obtain. The agent tried again and found a dealer only 10 miles farther away that had the part in stock. Within a few hours, the driver was back on the road.
“We saved five days of downtime. For the Volvo Action Service team at the Uptime Center to make that decision and put us in another shop – there was minimal cost, and that’s huge,” White says.
A few years ago, a mechanical issue could sideline a driver for days. Not only would the load be late, but AMX would also incur the additional costs of a hotel room, repairs and the loss of other loads.
Also, when downtime creeps up, drivers look elsewhere for jobs to support their families; however, AMX’s current driver turnover rate is consistently at least 10 percent under industry average.
“You can’t stress it enough. It’s hard to put a number on how tough downtime is and how expensive it is,” White says.
Volvo Trucks knows that when trucks aren’t rolling, companies lose revenue. That’s why Volvo Action Service agents at the Uptime Center are available 24 hours a day, seven days a week, 365 days a year. Each month, the Uptime Center handles nearly 20,000 cases. That number continues to grow as more services are offered. Agents handle an average of 18,000 inbound calls a month and make approximately 28,000 outbound calls per month.
Remote Diagnostics alerts drivers to current mechanical issues as well as reminding them of routine maintenance checks. In emergencies, VAS agents spring into action, obtaining fleet information and pinpointing the trucks’ geographic locations and proximity to dealers.
The new technology is exciting, White says, adding that he thinks the detailed communication between the truck and the Volvo Remote Diagnostics platform represents a major step for the entire trucking industry.
“You’ve taken the margin of error out. That way, our technician, our dealer and our Volvo rep are not having to rely so much on what the driver is saying. They can actually look and see what’s going on.”
Record keeping and work status updates are easier, too, thanks to ASIST, Volvo’s web-based service communication platform, which notes every incident from the moment the truck has trouble to the moment it is back on the road.
“Without that, it would be hard to tell whether we are doing a good job or not. It keeps up with every detail, and if there are open events out there, we can look at it. You don’t have trucks sitting idle.”
As Volvo expands its services, AMX is growing, too, and White expects that trend to continue. A big factor in their success, he says, is the partnership AMX shares with Volvo Trucks.
“We’re doing what we do very well, and that’s very important. We have the support and have products that are performing at the rate we feel like we’re performing – so we’re excited,” White says.