You’ve probably heard the saying, “An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.”
When it comes to fleet maintenance, this couldn’t be truer. Keeping your vehicles well-maintained all year round can save you big on costs. Most importantly, it can help you achieve your company’s sales and service goals.
However, none of that is possible if your fleet isn’t well maintained and in good shape.
A well-maintained vehicle breaks down less, burns less fuel, and operates at its optimal capacity. Taking a systematic approach to preventive maintenance can stop problems early before they snowball into safety hazards.
So, what can you do to keep your fleet in shape? This article will explore some clever tips to help you improve your fleet’s operational efficiency through planned maintenance.
1. Understand the Scale of Your Service Maintenance & Repair (SMR) Costs
The first step in building and implementing a solid maintenance plan is to get accurate figures for your company’s repair and maintenance costs. This information will give you valuable insights into your company’s productivity and operational effectiveness.
Interestingly, studies have shown that 40% of fleet companies don’t know the cost of their vehicle downtime that results from neglected maintenance—and around 30% don’t know how much they spend on SMR annually.
Understanding how much your off-road vehicles cost your company can help you to better manage and maintain your fleets. Moreover, when you know your SMR costs, you can take maintenance seriously and devise feasible policies for scheduled maintenance.
2. Take Advantage of Technology
Fleet operators still relying on spreadsheets, whiteboards, and paper processes cannot run a successful maintenance program. Why?
Paper service records can get lost, whiteboards can be erased, and spreadsheets aren’t convenient for anyone to maintain. However, investing in technology will allow you to automate most of the tasks that bog down effective maintenance.
By investing in robust fleet management software, like Samsara, you’ll gain real-time visibility into your fleets, increase driver satisfaction, and reduce fuel usage through predictive analytics. Most importantly, fleet maintenance management software will always remind you when inspections are due so you’ll never miss repairs.
Plus, you can use automated apps to monitor the condition of the vehicle systems, view real-time vehicle diagnostic reports, and create digital maintenance checklists.
3. Understand the Value and Importance of Preventive Maintenance
Preventive maintenance can save you big on costs annually.
By keeping your delivery trucks well-maintained and up to date, you can minimize unplanned downtime and scheduled repairs. Preventive maintenance may include, but not limited to:
- Regular oil changes
- Tire inspection
- General safety checks
The essence of preventive maintenance is to address problems/faults before they escalate into safety hazards. For instance, a vehicle may appear fine, but one of its critical components could be at the end of its lifespan. In this case, preventive maintenance can ensure these components are replaced early before they cause vehicle breakdown or pose a safety risk.
4. Examine Both Your Routine & Unscheduled Maintenance Data
A successful maintenance program should be based on real data.
The more data you have about your vehicle downtimes and repair, the better your maintenance program will be. Fuel usage, engine hours, distance traveled, and calendar time are some of the critical data points that can help you build a working maintenance plan.
Also, by tracking the number of breakdowns, emergency repairs, tows, and jumpstarts, you might see patterns that can help you decide on the best time for scheduled maintenance.
5. Develop a Maintenance Checklist
Lastly, create a digital preventive maintenance checklist specific to your fleet. Your checklist should take into account the mileage, usage, and operating environment of your fleet. Typical tasks to add to your checklist may include:
- Changing engine oil and filters
- Checking for fluid leaks
- Replacing tires in a timely fashion
- Inspecting the steering and the suspension system
- Inspecting the braking system and replacing rotors and brake pads when needed
- Inspecting electrical system components
- Performing engine tune-up
For best results, ask your drivers and maintenance technicians for input into the plan. You could also use your vehicle’s manual when developing a checklist or ask your company’s repair shop for advice.