Maintenance A New Angle
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Repair Work Done on the Haulier's Own Premises Is More Expensive Than if Done at a Garage, Claims a Correspondent
ALETTER I have lately received from a garage proprietor :prompts me to return to the subject of maintenance, with which I dealt in the issues' dated Septernbei'29 and November' 17. ' 'As I stated in the first of the two articles, the question of maintenance is one upon , which I can never find agreement with my friends or
It is indeed rarely possible to get two hauliers to agree , as to whit maintenance comprises.. I consider that it. includes everything that is not accountable to the other nine items of 'operating • coat. Even filling with petrol and oit may be fairly..charged under that heading, although I admit that this might be stretching a point. Maintenance, however, certainly covers washing and cleaning, greasing and oiling, and sundry 'tasks of this nature, as well as routine .servicing, repairs and overhauls. , It is difficult to persuade 'some. hauliers that the cost of minor operations, such as Washing and cleaning, should be
debited to. Maintenance. In some cases, of course, the driver performs such jobs, and as his 'Wages cover the cost iL is not practicable to set out separate items of expense. Then there are the exasperating peaple who write testimonials to motor manufacturers stating that in the courSe 'ofsome thousands of miles of running they have spent only 6d. on the maintenance of one of their vehicles. TO My understanding of the term "maintenance" this is utterly a bsurd. .
Before referring to the letter, whichraises another complication in this matter, I shall briefly recapitulate what 1 said ia my article dated November 17; I dealt with a complete series of maintenance operations and reckoned their cost first on a basis of -the operator doing the work ift his own workshop and second, assuming that a local garage did the work, I reckoned that the wage plus overheads of the mechanic employed by the operator would cost 4s, an hour and -that a garage proprietor would charge 7s. an hour for mechanic's wage plus overheads and profit.
My correspondent was struck with my, assessments and stated that, in his opinion, no operator with fewer than 50 vehicles all of one make could afford to undertake all his own maintenance. "I can quote many examples of hauliers who use outside garage services in a judicious way who make higher profits than those who waste their money on the upkeep of their own repair shops," he says, The mistake that the average haulier makes," he continues, "is to look at his repair bills and think that he can make a 100 per cent. ,saving by doing the work himself, whereas he can actually save part of the labour cost only. He still has to pay for spares if he does the work himself, and the only way to run a repair shop economically is to keep the mechanics fully employed. That is obviously impoasible for a haulier, as he has to. keep,his lorries on the road, not in the shops.
"I agree with your figure of 4s, an hour if it pertainsto the hour that the man is working, but -when his idle time is taken into consideration. I question whether this amount should not be multiplied three or four'times. I believe the true situation to be this; the average :haulier's repairs cost hint 15s, an hour or more, whereas -repairs done by the efficient garage cost !Os. anhour butcan be passed to the haulier at 7s. an hour because the garage is-ac-to liquidate a great pirl of its overheads on sales--of petrol, accessories and vehicles, It is fallacious to think That a haulier, without these assets and working his mechanics spasmodically only,
can beat the garages for price. , "Many hauliers, in their ignoranse, accept this fallacy and consider that the 7s. charged by the garage is extortion. I can put the matter another way. No sane person would put up a garage purely for the maintenance of about 10 lorries with no 'sales of petrol, and so on, to fill in the mechanics' time, yet this is, in effect, what the haulier is trying to do. He should realize that be is robbing himself."
In the preventive-maintenance scheme which I described in my previous ankle there was provision for four specific operations and a valeting service. This service, including . washing and polishing, was to be done by the driver in half a day's work at aorne time during the week when the vehicle was idle. If I take half a day's wages to be 10s. and add 5s. for overheads. I obtain 15s. a week as the cost of this valeting service.
The first operation, which is to take place at 4,000-mile intervals, includes checking gearbox and rear-axle oil levels, cleaning filters, battery examination, checking the steering' gear connections, topping-13p the sump and sundry minor tasks. Six hours would be necessary for this work and, allowing 15s. an hour for wages and overheads, as suggested by my correspondent, the cost will be £4 I0a.,.whi0 is 0.27d. per mile. If at local garage.deesthe Work, at 7s, an hour, the; cost Will be 4:2s., or 0.13d, per mire.
The second operation is carried out every 12,000 miles and provides for the checking of brakes and brake facings, examination of --transmission and universal joints, checking the electrical system, rectifying play in steering connections, • changing tyres and the lubrication of minor fittings. This work would take 4i hours, and at the rates we are discussing would cost 67s. 6d. on the operator's own premises and 31s. 6d. at a garage. A sum of 22s. would cover the cost of new parts that may be necessary and, adding that to the labour charges,. I get 89s, 6d, and 53s. 6d, respectively. The costs per mile come to 0.088d. and 0.55d.
The :third operation in the scheme covers a top overhaul (necessitating the renewal of gaskets, sparking plugs, hose connections, and so on), washing out the radiator, examination of the clutch and differential, renewal, if necessary, of hubs, brake _drums and facings, refilling of the gearbox, bodywork repairs and touching-up of paintwork.
Twenty-four man-hours would be necessary, which means that the price of the work if done at home would be £18, and £.8 8s. if done away. If I allow £3 for materials, the total costs are £21 and £11 8s. This operation is done every 24.000 miles, so that the mileage costs are 0.2Id. anc1,0.12d.
The fourth operation, a 48,000-mile routine, is a coMplete chassis overhaul, including the fitting of a reconditioned engine, bodywork repairs, painting and varnishing, and 'other jobs normally done at such a time. The cost, if the opera, tor does the work himself, is £300, or 4d. a mile, _and if done by a garage, £240, or 1.2d. a mile.
The cost of these four operations, excluding the weeting service, is 2.07d. per mile if undertaken by the haulier; and 1.5d. if done outside. The valeting will cost 0.75d. Per-mile for 240 miles a week, which brings the total costs to 3.45d. and 2.25d. a week respectively.
Having dealt with the subject on the lines suggested by my correspondent, I should state that I do, not agree with him entirely or completely accept his figures, 1 have known many hauliers with small fleets who, have done their own maintenance for many years and .made a success of their buainessea as well, -despite the handicaps. which my correspondent has -put forward. I would welcome the
comments of other readers. S.T.R.