Avoid fleet downtime by implementing these 7 preventive maintenance tips
Every fleet company aims for maximized uptime. Vehicles with long lifespans are also at the top of the list of goals for fleet companies. Even so, things don’t always turn out the way we plan them. Every fleet company will experience some downtime for a number of reasons. Vehicles break down, drivers get sick, and unexpected problems happen. While you can’t eliminate this altogether, certain preventive maintenance tricks can help you minimize fleet downtime.
If you do preventive maintenance right, your fleet can run at optimal efficiency. If you don’t, you’ll experience big vehicle downtime periods, which will result in a loss of productivity, not to mention a loss of revenue. Research shows that roughly 10% of all industrial equipment actually wears off. This means that a big portion of mechanical failures in vehicles is avoidable.
A good maintenance plan is vital for the smooth work of your company, the upkeep of the vehicles, and the safety of your drivers. In this article, we’ll discuss a few proven methods to reduce fleet downtime and keep your operations running without problems.
But first, let’s discuss the 2 types of fleet maintenance.
Fleet maintenance explained
If you run a fleet company, there are two types of fleet maintenance you can do:
- Corrective maintenance. Often unscheduled and a result of a failed item on your vehicles.
- Preventive maintenance. Scheduled, regular maintenance done to prevent failure and eliminate the cost of corrective maintenance and avoid downtime.
There you have it – the reason why you should invest some time, money, and effort into preventive maintenance. This is the best way to maximize the uptime of your fleet.
Top preventive maintenance tips to avoid fleet downtime
Preventive maintenance is more than creating a smart schedule for your vehicles. There are certain steps you can take to make sure that your schedule is maintained and the paperwork is organized properly. That being said, here is what you can do to optimize this.
1. Use a fleet management system for your preventive maintenance program
Creating a schedule is just the beginning. Many fleets still depend on paperwork orders and endless spreadsheets to manage their work. This is outdated and inefficient because, in the midst of all that paperwork, it’s easy to forget about routine maintenance.
It is precisely for that reason that you need a fleet management system. If you want to learn how to implement a fleet preventive maintenance program, the answer lies in software that will make sure everything is organized for you. This is a method that will guarantee that no maintenance schedules fall apart due to disorganization, leading to costly repairs and fleet downtime.
Tools like Fleetio can automate and track all the numbers you have for running the organization smoothly. For example, in this list, you’ll find odometer tracking as a means to track when you need to send a vehicle for scheduled maintenance. Instead of getting the information from drivers when they get back to the office, which can be too late, you can do it in real-time, therefore managing maintenance more efficiently.
Fleet tracking software monitors everything from fuel spending to driver behavior. This is good not only for preventive maintenance and cost-saving but also for the safety of your drivers. 42% of companies that use fleet tracking software report fewer safety incidents.
2. Use odometer readings to set service reminders
The majority of preventive maintenance schedules are based on hour-mileage intervals. Odometer readings have proven to be very useful in this matter.
If you haven’t done so already, try to digitize this process. Having your drivers note down the odometer readings and bringing them back when they return from their trip is not practical. If you do this, you’re receiving infrequent, non-updated, and at times even inaccurate numbers.
The right software can help you do this automatically and receive the information in real-time. The best thing is, you won’t have to check the numbers all the time – the tool will tell you when service is due based on the reminder settings you put into it.
3. Make use of fleet alarms
Driver safety is paramount in the fleet industry. To encourage the safety of your employees and minimize downtime as a result, you should consider setting fleet alarms. Fleet alarms are alerts that you can set for situations of your choice. Some examples of this are:
- Speeding. Set an alert for when a driver is speeding.
- Idle. Be notified when your driver exceeds the recommended idle time
- Maintenance. Get alerts for when a vehicle needs scheduled maintenance
- Geo-fence alerts. This will show you if your employees stray from the locations you’ve sent them to
- Off-hours alert. Get an alert when your employee is using the fleet equipment without permission or off-hours
In addition to the real-time alert, you can also document the incident with details such as time and place. This data is vital for keeping your employees safe, saving on unnecessary spent fuel, and making sure that your vehicles are maintained properly.
Unless you know when your vehicle is driven and how, you can’t really know when it requires maintenance, can you?
5. Streamline repairs at third-party shops
Getting your vehicles serviced at the same shop is not cost-effective since in many cases, the vehicles are too far when the maintenance time comes up. This is why many fleet companies outsource preventive maintenance to third-party shops.
However, if this is the case for your company, there might be some issues you need to address. Very often, communication issues arise when you outsource vehicle maintenance to external vendors.
Manage this through appropriate software that will streamline the work orders, billing, and approvals. This will send the fleet manager a notification to decide whether to approve or reject maintenance when a vehicle gets to a third-party shop.
This way, you can automate approvals at shops you have used or shops that charge up to a certain amount that’s in your budget. At any moment, the drivers will know where to bring their vehicles for preventive maintenance, which will save them time and get them back on the road faster.
6. Install automation security devices
The most important thing for your business and uptime is to keep the fleet secure. The safety of your vehicle fleet is not something you should neglect. To stay on top of the preventive security measures, install automation security devices.
Such devices will give you full control over each vehicle. You can use vehicle state automation and tracking systems to prevent it from being started or allow access to it.
If you decide to install automation security devices, make sure to have safety and security policies in place first, and inform your drivers of them. Draft up a set of policies that your employees will have access to at all times. For example, define the check-in and check-out return procedure for the vehicle.
7. Invest in the safest vehicles you can get
Some vehicles are simply more resilient and safe than others. Yes, this is a costly investment, but it can save you a fortune in repairs and downtime in the long run. Consider selling your vehicles and replacing them with safer choices as soon as your budget allows for it. There are many ways to get a good price for your vehicles, and investing in trucks with higher safety ratings is one of the best ways to avoid fleet downtime.
8. Use inspection results for better preventive maintenance
You can’t always predict when a truck needs a repair and very often, routine inspections will point out some issues that you weren’t aware of. Don’t skip these, even if the issue is minor. That’s what routine inspections are for – to find issues that can lead to greater problems in the long run, and help you fix them before they cost you a lot more.
The best source of maintenance information lies in the inspection reports. Leverage these to expedite and optimize the maintenance process.
Of course, it is very important to schedule those routine inspections as frequently as you can. You might want to introduce digital inspections within your fleet maintenance platform too, as a way to allow drivers to perform their own vehicle checks.
Are you ready to optimize your fleet uptime?
There’s always a way to boost your uptime when in the fleet industry. Not all incidents can be avoided, of course, but most of them can with the right technology and techniques. Use the seven tips in this article to get you started, and you’ll notice the results in no time!
Nadica Metuleva is a freelance writer who’s passionate about creating quality, original content. She holds a Master’s degree in English teaching and a Bachelor’s degree in translation. With 8 years of experience in the freelance writing industry, Nadica has become proficient in creating content that captivates the audience, drives growth, and educates. You can find her on LinkedIn.