The National Academies

NCHRP 13-08 [Active]

Guideline for Decision-Making for Repair vs. Replacement of Highway Maintenance Equipment

  Project Data
Funds: $350,000
Staff Responsibility: Amir N. Hanna
Research Agency: The Cadmus Group LLC
Principal Investigator: Geoff Morrison
Effective Date: 1/28/2021
Completion Date: 7/27/2022



BACKGROUND: Equipment failures often require state transportation agency fleet managers to consider whether the equipment should be repaired or replaced. (For purposes of this project, the term “repair” encompasses such actions as major overhaul or refurbishment that can add to the anticipated equipment service life; “replace” includes sale or other disposition of the failed equipment; and “equipment” includes the broad range of items typically operated by or for a state transportation agency, including sedans, light-, medium-, and heavy-duty vehicles, and off-road equipment.)


The replace or repair decision typically depends on a variety of considerations such as availability of other equipment, seasonal conditions and maintenance workloads, various budget restrictions and current agency policies, as well as the anticipated time requirements and costs of replacement or repair and future equipment reliability.


Fleet managers need consistent and defensible methodology and computational tools to assist them to identify viable repair and replacement options, evaluate the merits of these options, assess the impact of budget limitations or other constraints that may preclude otherwise viable options, and generally provide sound and easily understood bases for decision-making. Recent research products from NCHRP and others offer guidance for calculating ownership and operating costs of agency vehicles and equipment and for determining optimal equipment replacement cycles. Research is need to extend such guidance to address explicitly the repair vs. replacement options when highway maintenance equipment fails.


OBJECTIVE: The objective of this research is to develop a guidebook for state transportation agency fleet managers and others, presenting a readily usable methodology, supportive computational tools, and examples of effective practices for (a) describing and evaluating repair and replacement options when a particular piece of highway maintenance equipment fails and (b) judging which options represent the best value for the fleet and agency. The methodology and tools should facilitate consideration of the range of factors that may be critical to decision-making, such as downtime; budget limitations; seasonality; equipment compatibility; the equipment’s age, anticipate service life, and future reliability; current shop capability, warrantees, future liabilities, and availability of rental equipment; cost-recovery period and return on investment; and aspects other than monetary costs that may influence best value. The guidebook shall be presented in a format suitable for adoption by the American Association of State Highway and Transportation Agencies (AASHTO).


The target audience for this research will be state transportation agency fleet managers and maintenance engineers who are responsible for ensuring availability of equipment to carry out day-to-day highway maintenance operations and may be called on to inform senior agency decision makers and other internal and external stakeholders such as budget-agency and elected officials, road users, and the general public.


TASKS: (1) Project Start-up. Prepare and deliver an Amplified Work Plan for discussion at a kickoff web conference with the NCHRP project panel, organized by NCHRP. Participate in the kickoff web conference and document the discussions and results in a meeting notes memorandum and, if appropriate, revised Amplified Work Plan. (2) Data Collection. Using literature, interviews with subject matter experts, surveys, and other sources and methods as appropriate, review current private and public organizations’ practices for making equipment repair-versus-replace decisions. Summarize the review and its findings in draft Interim Report 1 (IR1). Solicit NCHRP comments and meet with the NCHRP project panel via web conferencing to discuss draft IR1 and adjustments in the Amplified Work Plan that may be appropriate based on IR1 findings and subsequent discussion. Document key points of discussion and adjustments to be made in a meeting memorandum and revise draft IR1 as appropriate to prepare final IR1. (3)  Framework. Develop a hierarchical analysis framework for a systematic process for making and documenting equipment repair-versus-replace decisions. Present the framework and its application within state transportation agencies in draft Interim Report 2 (IR2). Solicit NCHRP comments and meet with the NCHRP project panel via web conferencing to discuss draft IR2. Solicit NCHRP comments, respond to comments and revise draft IR2 as appropriate to prepare final IR2. (4) Prototype Decision Support Tool. Develop a proposed decision support tool using Microsoft Excel or other commonly available business software that will be usable by state transportation agency staff, within the framework presented in IR2, to define and analyze equipment repair-versus-replace decision options. Describe the tool, its use, data requirements, formats for presentation and communication of analysis results, its limitation, and examples illustrating its use in typical decision-making situations. Document the tool and descriptive materials in Interim Report 3 (IR3). Solicit NCHRP comments and meet with the NCHRP project panel to discuss draft IR3 and demonstrate the tool’s use. The meeting shall be held in-person at a TRB facility unless otherwise dictated by public health requirement; in that case, the meeting shall be via web conference. Document key points of discussion and adjustments to be made in a meeting memorandum. Draft IR3, the tool, and the meeting memorandum shall become bases for developing the guidebook specified in Task 5. (5) Draft Guidebook. Based on preceding tasks, prepare a Draft Guidebook including descriptive and instructional materials for the equipment repair-versus-replace decision support tool, the tool, and a review of work conducted in the project to meet the project objective. Solicit NCHRP comments on the Draft Guidebook. (6) Final Guidebook. Based on NCHRP comments Draft Guidebook, make revisions of the draft as appropriate to prepare the Final Guidebook. Submit the Final Guidebook with a memorandum documenting the comments and responses thereto.


STATUS: Research in progress.



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