Home Stretch | Varied trucks

When you buy a truck from DAF, you can also conclude a service contract for it. The price of such a contract depends on the expected maintenance costs. Graduating student Lex Roording went into the technical differences between the various types of trucks, in order to help DAF determine the right price for these service contracts.

Every couple of minutes a new truck emerges from the conveyor belt at DAF Trucks in Eindhoven. Those trucks are anything but identical, though, student of Operations Management & Logistics Lex Roording explains. “Better still, I was told by an employee that on certain days no two exactly identical engines are produced.” The variations are endless, as he has found out. “For starters, there are as many as nineteen different axle configurations; they may be with a single or double drive, steered or lifted, with one or two wheels at each end. And then there are different types of engines, as well as various types of cabins – with or without sleeping accommodation, for instance.”

It stands to reason that many of those technical differences influence the maintenance costs to be expected during the term of the service contracts. “In practice, DAF is quite capable of assessing what price it should ask for each type of truck, although it is by no means easy to explain to customers what exactly the price differences are caused by”, says Roording. “For this reason they are restructuring their calculation models. It was my job to see whether you can calculate the failure behavior and the repair costs on the basis of the technical differences between the trucks.”

It was far from simple for the Industrial Engineering student to get a grip on the subject matter. “In the beginning the going was rough for me. I have interviewed various people from different departments within DAF, and my head was regularly in a whirl with the unknown abbreviations and technical terminology. Still, after some two months I was beginning to see the wood for the trees again and got some idea of the way things were interconnected.” In the end Roording was given access to lists of all the possible specifications for the trucks, which he combined in his analysis with the registered maintenance claims.

By way of a case study Roording compared a frequently sold model with the same type, but one with an extra axle. “To give you an inkling of the complexity: this immediately yields no less than 54 technical differences between those two models; for one, there is less space left for the fuel tank.” Nonetheless he never lost courage, he says. “I never got really bogged down and have always remained enthusiastic.” In this process it did help that he regularly met up with two other graduating fellow students. “It is worthwhile when somebody looks at your problem from another angle occasionally; that often produces valuable insights.”

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