Companies that operate fleets spend large amounts of money on vehicle maintenance. This is essential for them to keep their businesses going. Optimized Fleet maintenance is not just a business function.
It has a key role to play in the commercial and economic activities of a nation, especially fleets consisting of trailers, trucks, and off-road vehicles for transporting goods. Therefore, maintenance of the fleet vehicles is essential to support the growth of the fleet operators’ business and economic advancement of a country.
As maintenance of vehicles is an expensive affair, most companies tend to cut corners and postpone or resort to quick fixes. This often leads to an increase in downtime and higher expenditure in the long run.
Fleet operators who understand the consequences of not completing maintenance jobs on time focus on optimizing their fleet maintenance activities and reap the benefits. If you are a fleet operator, read on to get some useful tips on optimizing fleet maintenance.
Fleet Maintenance – What Is It
Before understanding as to how you can optimize your fleet’s maintenance, it is important to have a clear idea as to what constitutes fleet maintenance. As a fleet owner, you need to schedule routine checking of your vehicles to understand the condition of the various parts of the vehicles in your fleet.
This is essential to keep the vehicles in good running condition and reduce downtime. This also ensures the proper maintenance of the workflow of your business. Regular or preventive maintenance checks of your vehicles enable you to spot problems early and take timely action.
Washing the vehicles regularly to prevent the accumulation of dirt and ensuring that all accessories and maintenance tools are in good working condition are also part and parcel of fleet maintenance activities.
Top Tips For Optimizing Fleet Maintenance
Fleet maintenance may be a mundane task, but it should not be neglected. It keeps the productivity of your enterprise at the optimum level. Having said that here are a few tips for optimizing fleet maintenance:
Select Appropriate Vehicles
Optimization of fleet maintenance starts with the selection of the appropriate vehicles for meeting your requirements. If you do not choose the right vehicles, you will end up spending a lot of money on maintenance and even fail in meeting your delivery commitments.
In addition to losing your clients, you will also have to suffer financial losses in the long run. When you choose the right vehicles, you will be able to utilize them better and save both time and money.
Employ Telematics To Automate Fleet Maintenance
The best way to optimize fleet maintenance is to use the telematics system. It helps to automate most of the mundane tasks. It is not impossible but it is very challenging to do it manually. The use of technology eliminates human errors and makes fleet maintenance more efficient.
The telematics system helps you to monitor the operation and performance of each vehicle in your fleet with the help of both computer and mobile applications. These applications notify you when there is a problem with the performance of a vehicle or when it is misused in any manner. This also ensures the security of your vehicle in the fleet.
The fleet telematics system also informs you as to how and when you can schedule maintenance jobs so that you can ensure that the vehicles are maintained at the optimum operating condition. This goes a long way in increasing the productivity of your fleet.
The applications enable fleet owners to get a clear idea of the maintenance cost involved and this helps them to eliminate the possibility of maintenance scams. As such, a fleet telematics system automates most of the functions of your business and enables you to reduce losses and enhance your overall profits.
Optimal Utilization of Vehicles
You can drastically minimize the need for unnecessary and unexpected maintenance through planning and proper utilization of the vehicles and keeping track of the load being carried by each vehicle. It also pays to have a clear idea of the routes and terrain through which the vehicles have to travel at the time of planning the schedules.
Keeping in view factors such as the terrain, topology, and the accessories that are needed to be loaded into your vehicles will be of great help in reducing the wearing out of your vehicles. If you load the vehicles more than the specified limits, there is no doubt that they will wear out faster and they will have to be taken to the repair shops for maintenance more frequently.
Increased downtime of the vehicles adversely affects their utilization. This, in turn, impacts productivity and the bottom line of your business.
Create A Maintenance Operations Control List
As a fleet operator, you must create a checklist of the various maintenance operations that need to be carried out on each vehicle in the fleet. This is to ensure that no aspects are overlooked and tasks are carried out systematically.
A checklist is also helpful in the early detection of issues with your vehicles and proactively taking action to rectify the problems. In addition to speeding up the maintenance process, it also enables you to reduce downtime and improve vehicle utilization.
When creating the checklist, you must keep the manufacturer’s specifications in this regard in mind. This is because the requirements for each type of vehicle are different.
Preventive maintenance, which involves periodic inspection as well as timely service, eliminates 50 percent of the maintenance issues. Preventive maintenance checks include inspecting wheels and checking alignment, applying lubricants at appropriate intervals, and checking hydraulic and transmission systems, among others.
Allocate the Maintenance Tasks
Allocating the various maintenance tasks to different staff members helps to improve the availability of the vehicles in your fleet. Also, it helps to streamline the maintenance workflow and asset utilization. Further, the allocation of maintenance tasks to different specialized groups ensures that no issues are left out because of oversight.
Formulating a stringent compliance policy would be of great help in this regard. Educate the drivers about your company’s policies concerning the fleet operation and empower them to comply not only with company rules but also road laws.
Develop A Plan Based On the Needs of Your Business
When developing a fleet maintenance plan, it is crucial to keep the needs of your business in mind. Most fleet operators lose money due to the downtime of their vehicles in the fleet. This is because they fail to carry out important business tasks on time due to maintenance downtime.
This can adversely affect your company’s customer base and you may even lose out to your competitors. You can avoid such pitfalls by scheduling the maintenance operations, keeping your customers’ demand trend in mind. In this regard, it is worth considering factors like seasonal demands, customer preferences, and workforce availability when scheduling fleet maintenance work.
If you do it in a systematic and organized manner, the downtime of your vehicles will not adversely impact your business activities.
Provide Training and Encourage Transparent Communication
When it comes to optimizing fleet maintenance, training has an important role to play. You must train the drivers to operate the vehicles they are attached to most properly. They should also be educated in using the latest technologies that you have deployed for optimizing fleet maintenance.
Transparent and timely communication are also important factors that impact fleet maintenance optimization. They help you to eliminate unexpected vehicle breakdowns and downtimes. Drivers should be sensitized to immediately inform you about the maintenance requirements of the vehicles they drive.
Moreover, trained drivers may be able to resolve some minor issues during a trip itself. Further, sharing information about the need for route changes and completing additional emergency tasks, etc., will go a long way in optimizing fleet operation.
Fleet maintenance management is no longer a challenging task. You can take the help of technology. The tips given above will be of great help to you in improving the efficiency of your vehicle maintenance optimization efforts.