Klas Hedvall studies efficient maintenance for more sustainable transport solutions

Efficient maintenance leads to more sustainable transport solutions

​The importance of the aftermarket is today well acknowledged. Klas Hedvall, Industrial Doctoral student at Chalmers University of Technology, has researched how heavy vehicle maintenance is managed by companies in the transport industry. With his research, Klas can help companies improve transport efficiency and vehicle utilization - prerequisites for sustainable transport solutions.
​Klas Hedvall is employed at Volvo Group Trucks Technology, and brings with him solid knowledge and experience from the automotive industry. In his Licentiate Thesis, Klas studies heavy vehicle maintenance in an industrial network perspective.

Why is vehicle maintenance so interesting - and important?
– In the industry, the aftermarket is an exciting area in rapid change and evolution. Companies have over time realized how important their aftermarket operation is for providing improved customer value, the customer relations, and financial sustainability. Hence, many companies today strive to strengthen their role in the aftermarket, for instance through services supplementing the core products. Maintenance is one such product-related service.

– But, this transition involves challenges that the companies involved must face. With a stronger focus on services and solutions, the companies must review and adapt their organization, their processes, and, their way of interacting and cooperating with customers.

Tell us about your research!
– The main focus of my research is how companies involved in transport solutions, i.e. transport buyers and transport providers, may improve transport efficiency through efficient vehicle maintenance. I study how the firms concerned manage, plan for, and perform vehicle maintenance of vehicles used in freight transports.

– My research hence focuses on managerial and interorganizational aspects of vehicle maintenance and thus provides a valuable supplement to prior research in the area, research that to a great extent focus on technically oriented issues such as diagnostics and predictive maintenance.

Tell us about the results!
– The results from my three case studies clearly show how the vehicle maintenance activity is influenced by, and influence, other activities and resources of the network of actors established by the companies involved in the transport operations.

– To improve efficiency of vehicle maintenance, the companies concerned (Transport Buyers, Transport Providers and Maintenance Providers) must identify and address the interdependencies observed among activities and resources of the network.

– Moreover, when striving to improve efficiency, the different perspectives of maintenance efficiency that the actors involved may have must be acknowledged. And, additionally, not only the short term perspective must be in focus. My research indicates that the long- and mid-term perspectives of maintenance strategies have a major influence on the possibilities to improve efficiency in the short-term.

What do you hope your research will lead to?
– For reliability and robustness of transport solutions, the vehicles involved must be operational - and for this, vehicle maintenance is key. However, at the same time, vehicle maintenance is mostly not seen as a core activity part of the main activity-chain of the companies involved, i.e. freight transports.

– My aim is to enable a better understanding of how vehicle maintenance forms a part of a bigger whole, a bigger whole that could be imagined as a network of actors, activities and resources influencing, and being influenced by, vehicle maintenance. With this knowledge, I hope that the companies in interaction and cooperation may be able to improve efficiency of vehicle maintenance, something that also will improve transport efficiency and enable more sustainable transport solutions.

What are the next steps in your research?
– In my continued research I will look more to the future challenges related to vehicle maintenance. Changes in the society and the industry, as well as a strong focus on sustainability, will lead to new demands on the transport solutions to be developed.

– The new demands and pre-conditions will influence the design and technologies of future transport solutions and vehicles, something that also will result in that new solutions for vehicle maintenance have to be developed.

– In my future research I will thus aim to provide a better understanding of how these new demands and implications will influence vehicle maintenance solutions.

FACTS
Klas Hedvall is an Industrial Doctoral student at the department of Technology Management and Economics at Chalmers University of Technology in Gothenburg. He recently published his Licentiate Thesis, “Heavy Vehicle Maintenance in an Industrial Network Perspective: Implications of Embeddedness and Interdependencies”.

Read more about Klas Hedvall

Published: Wed 04 Jan 2017.