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Fleet Management

A manager's guide to fleet maintenance

True fleet maintenance involves servicing your business vehicles in a proactive manner, not just simply repairing them when they break down.

At its most basic, fleet maintenance is the practice of keeping a group of business vehicles in good repair. But the theory behind the practice goes well beyond just fixing a flat or changing the oil. True fleet maintenance also involves servicing your business vehicles in a proactive manner rather than simply repairing them when they break down. It involves planning, scheduling, analysis, and execution — and, the more vehicles you operate, the more complex those variables become.

Tips For Effective Fleet Maintenance

1) Choose The Right Vehicles For The Job

One of the first steps in building an effective fleet maintenance program is choosing the right vehicles for the job at hand. Determine the tasks you need your fleet vehicles to perform, and then research the options that can handle those tasks. Take into account such factors as:

Travel distance

Type of freight

Operational environment

Deliveries per day

If your fleet vehicles are mismatched with the jobs you ask them to perform, their major systems will wear out more quickly. For example, if your fleet consists of SUVs designed to haul passengers but you’re routinely putting them into service pulling trailers full of cargo, they’re going to have more maintenance issues sooner rather than later.

2) Create A Vehicle-Specific Maintenance Plan

When your fleet is new, consider creating a maintenance plan for each of the different types of vehicles. Take into account the mileage the vehicles amass, the operating environment, the type of cargo they haul, and other telematics data.

And, remember, one size does not fit all. Base your maintenance plan on the original equipment manufacturer’s suggested service intervals, but don’t be afraid to add in more frequent repairs when necessary. As your maintenance plans progress, you may even develop different checklists for each vehicle in the fleet (van A, van B, van C, etc.), not just for the types of vehicles they are. To build the best vehicle-specific maintenance plan possible, ask drivers and maintenance techs for their input on how you can improve the schedule for each vehicle.

3) Make Use Of Maintenance Metrics

Once you’ve got a fleet maintenance plan in place, it’s essential to monitor and evaluate the success of that plan.

The best way to do that is to make use of maintenance metrics, including:

Utilization Percentage

Downtime Percentage

Cost Of Vehicle Downtime

Maintenance Cost Per Unit

Maintenance Compliance Percentage

Utilization Percentage

4) Train Drivers To Check Tire Pressure

Checking the tire pressure on your vehicles only takes a few minutes, but it can save your business hundreds, or even thousands, of dollars down the road.Tires in poor condition dramatically affect vehicle performance, including such critical variables as fuel efficiency. Train your drivers to check tire pressure before they set out on a run, whenever they stop for fuel, and after they park the vehicle for the night.

Have them make note of any unexpected or dramatic drop in pressure and report it to you or the maintenance supervisor as soon as possible. If a tire doesn’t seem to be holding pressure, get the vehicle into the shop immediately to diagnose the problem. Doing so can prevent the tires from decreasing the performance of other systems and keep the vehicle as safe as possible.

5) Build A Strong Relationship With Your Maintenance Provider

Before you choose a maintenance company, talk to them and evaluate their expertise with your vehicles. Find out if they’ll be able to adhere to the turnaround time you need to keep your fleet active. Doing so can help you get the service you need and maintain an effective fleet maintenance plan.