A study by the Energy Savings Trust, operating costs and fuel costs fall by 10% and 15%, respectively, through proper fleet maintenance.
Vehicles are the most critical asset of any fleet. Those in good operating conditions make the difference between success and failure in a business. With a proactive preventive maintenance approach, you not only save dollars but also ensure the safety of the drivers and the customers.
This article guides you through everything you need to know about fleet maintenance, planning, implementation, software, and more.
Fleet vehicle maintenance is the process of maintaining the vehicles in a fleet so that they are in optimum working condition. Moreover, prompt repair and upkeep enhance the effectiveness, reliability, and safety of the fleet. Fleets in good condition tend to last longer on the roads.
Above all, it improves the short-term health of the vehicle and saves thousands of dollars in downtime and expensive repairs.
Set Up a Fleet Vehicle Maintenance Program
More often than not, any well-thought-out fleet maintenance program will need regular updates to make it more effective. It helps to eliminate downtime related cost and also give the vehicles the attention they require.
Here are the basic steps to help you put together a working schedule:
- Make a note of the maintenance schedules
To start with, research the OEM maintenance and schedule. The owner’s manual should give you a clear picture.
Every part and vehicle will have a different standard. While some are based on time, the others are dependent on the miles. You need this list for all the vehicles in the fleet.
- Plan a schedule
On a calendar, loosely plot the schedule from your checklist and also the inspection. Then, take the average for each piece of equipment and finalize the maintenance date.
Vehicles will have complex workflows, so adjust accordingly. The end goal is to balance such that you are not running short.
- Execute your fleet management schedule
With the above information, create a working schedule. This may be quite different from the plan since it considers the heavy use and the occasional lows that happen in real-time.
The final schedule is more dynamic and is something you can work with.
Benefits of Vehicle Maintenance Management
Managing a fleet is, in fact, an overwhelming task. Unless you keep everything in order and proactively plan your fleet maintenance, it is likely to get out of hand.
Here are some of the benefits you reap with a good maintenance plan:
- Better safety on all your vehicles
- Increased vehicle lifespan
- Reduced vehicle breakdowns
- Lower vehicle downtime
- Fewer compliance issues
- Reduced maintenance costs
- Low operational cost
- Better reliability
- Fuel savings
- Job satisfaction for the drivers
- Happy customers
Reduce Fleet Maintenance Costs
While regular maintenance work is supposed to reduce the costs, it is not always so. With a large fleet, the cost of maintaining can sometimes exceed the budget and eat into your profit.
Reduce your expenses with our top tips:
- Invest in an excellent preventive maintenance strategy, i.e., a computerized management system, and reduce vehicle breakdowns.
- Invest in the right technology that you can later customize to your needs. It will save you a lot of time and can streamline infrastructure management.
- Order your spare parts in bulk. Ensure that they match various vehicles or at least have a degree of similarity.
- Train your team to monitor essential vehicle safety items and not just wait for the technicians. This reduces the downtime and helps identify the vehicle problems faster.
- Look into extending the warranty period or possibly insuring the fleet to help you with extensive repairs.
Set Up a Maintenance Schedule
Here are the steps to create an effective maintenance schedule:
- Get your preventive maintenance program ready.
- Create an inventory of all the appropriate equipment.
- Design a preventive maintenance process and set schedule priorities.
- Review the repair histories and downtime to serve as a baseline for the future.
- Train the maintenance team if you are using fleet management software.
- Ensure that the maintenance procedure is dynamic. Adopt new changes and improvise as and when needed.
Ways Slow Maintenance Can Affect Your Bottom Line
Fleet drivers depend on their vehicles to get their job done. When a vehicle breaks down, there’s nothing you could do, but it can cause cascading maintenance issues that reflect a business loss.
- Every hour/day, a vehicle is down, affects productivity, and brings about some significant loss.
- It places stress on the other vehicles since they are left to pick the slack overworking the vehicle.
- As long as the vehicle is in the body shop, you’ll find yourself unable to provide complete service to the customer.
- Until the vehicle gets back to work, the next one in line for service will not be able to do so and may break down while waiting.
Fleet management is how the fleet manager manages the fleet and assets, from acquisition to maintenance and finally disposal. This helps the management keep track of all the vehicles, improve efficiency, increase productivity and also ensure compliance across the fleet.
It is essential for companies who maintain a large fleet of vehicles, like trucking companies that utilize GPS fleet tracking to control the lifecycles.
Importance of Fleet Management
Tracking the vehicles and the expenses is the tip of the iceberg called fleet management: the larger the fleet, the more complex the operations. Without a streamlined system, you are most likely to get lost. Not only do you need to be on time, but you also track the repairs and make the customer happy.
Here are some of the reasons why fleet management is important:
- Cost reduction
- Vehicle maintenance
- Assets management
- Route planning
- Live track the drivers’ location
- Driver management
Top Tips for Effective Fleet Management
Below are a few tips that help you to manage your fleet effectively.
- Make sure you buy suitable vehicles according to needs. Overuse may lead to unnecessary maintenance issues, while underused vehicles are a waste of money and space.
- Preventive maintenance always pays ahead and helps you save money down the line. It also reduces unplanned downtime and repairs.
- Keep track of the maintenance cost. Unload the vehicle if the expenses begin to escalate.
- Add your vehicle’s tire pressure to your maintenance checklist. Something as simple as tire pressure can have a significant impact on the driver’s capability.
- Develop maintenance programs and safety procedures for your fleet. Ensure that the drivers are acquainted with the same.
- Have a maintenance provider on your payroll. They should be able to handle and expedite unscheduled repairs with minimal downtime.
How Do You Maintain Fleet Vehicles?
Well-maintained fleets are the key to a successful operation. Below are the key steps to maintain a successful fleet:
- Create a fleet inspector role. Regular vehicle inspection is the first and critical step to maintain a healthy fleet.
- Develop a driver inspection system and ensure that they file regular reports.
- Make sure your vehicle is equipped for the task and operating conditions. Under-speccing them leads to unnecessary wear and tear.
- Keep an eye on the tires for wear and tear, pressure, etc.
- Keep the exterior and the interior of the vehicle clean and professional looking.
- Teach your drivers to maintain their vehicles, including simple maintenance tasks.
- Plan not for today’s requirement but the future. Establish a relationship with a service provider to maintain your fleet.
- Invest in fleet management software.
Best Fleet Management Software
Manual systems can be strenuous and challenging, no matter the size of your fleet. The better option is to use fleet management software to track the maintenance and service schedules. Below are the top 11 applications:
- US Fleet Tracking
- Fleet Maintenance Pro 2020
- Director Fleet Software by Teletrac
- Webfleet Solutions (formerly Telematics by TomTom)
- Wialon GPS Tracking System
- Fleet Manager by GPSTrackit
- GPS Insight Fleet Tracking Solution
- RTA Fleet Management
Additionally, they come equipped with dashboards, real-time alerts, service reminders, and mobile apps, to name a few.
Importance of Fleet Maintenance Software
Modern problems require modern solutions. Fleet maintenance software can help you simplify the maintenance process, making it more efficient and cost-effective.
Managing the maintenance planning process in the software platform allows you to set service reminders, schedule repairs, view repair history, and more. They also hold a comprehensive log of all the repairs, past service, etc., for every item on their list. It also helps to predict the maintenance needs, thereby reducing downtime and save money.
Fleet Vehicle Maintenance Checklist
Regular maintenance is the only way to ensure that every vehicle is in proper working condition. But, where do you start? Below is a checklist of all the items you should include in your maintenance schedule.
- Body check for rust and exterior issues like peeling paints, scratches, etc.
- Condition of the undercarriage and frame
- Exterior lights
- Moving parts of the windows and doors
- Fluid level
- Fluid leaks
- Engine check
- Refill or change oil, antifreeze, brake, steering fluid
- Oil filter
- Cooling system
- Fuel system
Glass and Windshield:
- Glass integrity
- Windshield wiper system
- Refill or change the fluid
- Brake system
- Brake pads and rotors
- Refill or change brake fluid
- CV joints
- Transmission mount
- Refill or change the fluid
- Belts and hoses
- Seat structures
- Heating, defrost, and A/C unit
- Interior lights
Wheels and Tires:
- Rotate tires
- Tire change if needed
- Electrical components
- Exhaust and auxiliary
Fleet Preventive Maintenance Program
Preventive measures that are taken to ensure maximum vehicle availability is called fleet preventive maintenance.
Having said that, a fleet preventive maintenance program is a series of processes and guidelines that help your business do preventive maintenance in a smooth and efficient manner.
It may include regular vehicle maintenance tasks like oil changes, tire changes, and engine cleaning.
Taking a proactive approach helps to stop the issues right in their tracks before they break down on the road.
Pros and Cons of Fleet Preventive Maintenance
Successful organizations swear by preventive maintenance as it keeps the fleet vehicles in good working condition, thereby eliminating downtime. But it doesn’t work the same for every piece of equipment. Below are the pros and cons of preventive maintenance.
- Reduced vehicle breakdown
- Long vehicle lifespan
- Maximum efficiency
- Better reliability
- High upfront cost; Fleet vehicle maintenance is expensive if you are going to be doing it in regular service intervals.
- Chances of over-maintenance.
- Labor-intensive process
- It can be overwhelming if you do not have a proper plan and schedule in place.
Which is Better: Preventive Maintenance vs. Breakdown Maintenance
Preventive maintenance and breakdown maintenance are two ends of a spectrum.
Breakdown maintenance works by working the vehicles down until they experience wear and tear, finally breaking down. Emergency repairs and maintenance happens after the breakdown.
On the other hand, preventive maintenance identifies the issues at hand well before they turn into repairs. It operates on a schedule where the maintenance tasks are done at specific service intervals.
Coming to fleets, breakdown maintenance is not a suitable strategy for anything involving safety, especially in fleets.
How to Implement a Fleet Preventive Maintenance Plan
A preventive maintenance plan can extend the life of the fleet while ensuring the life of the drivers. For an effective preventive maintenance plan, you need the below items:
- Checklist of the required maintenance activities
- The service interval for maintenance plans
- Regular drivers’ report
- Preventive fleet maintenance software
The implementation process is as below:
- Set the baseline with a current status of the vehicles, inspection, and service record.
- Fix the maintenance intervals based on the operating conditions and vehicle type.
- Consider using a fleet maintenance software
- Develop a robust vehicle reporting system.
- Track the preventive maintenance and unscheduled maintenance intervals. This should give an idea if your plan is working.
Proper maintenance is integral to the successful operation of any fleet. Though an incredibly challenging and time-consuming process, it makes a massive difference in the health and reliability of the vehicles.
Furthermore, you can recognize problems and issues and stay on top of them, preventing the situation from worsening. Fleet management software can help you in this regard, ensuring that you do not miss a service. It improves efficiency and generates value in terms of cost savings.
Cutting Edge is committed to delivering quality service, quick turnarounds, and the best customer service for our fleet vehicle partners. As a fleet vehicle service provider in Tucson for over 15 years, we are extremely proud of our sterling reputation for superb craftsmanship and unrivaled customer service. Contact us for your free quote today!
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