Fleet inspections: why are they so important?
Fleet inspections are key to finding and fixing problems with vehicles before they cause a costly repair…
But what should be included in an effective inspection program?
Fleet inspections and preventive maintenance fall under the same bracket – they are, put simply, cost-saving and safety-conscious initiatives that could protect your company’s reputation and bottom line. Ultimately, they:
- Result in a lower volume of unscheduled fleet maintenance costs
- Eliminate expensive and unexpected repairs
- Reduce unproductive downtime that impacts your company’s ability to provide top-notch customer service
The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration states: “The motor carrier must either inspect, repair, maintain, and keep suitable records for all vehicles”.
The value of formal inspection procedures should not be underestimated, especially when considering driver safety; penalty fines; costly accidents; negligence and vehicle lifespan…
- Safety: Beyond cost and downtime savings, inspections help to ensure that your vehicles are not only safe for your employees, but for other motorists too.
- Penalty Fines: Routine inspections also lower costs for potential fines at roadside checkpoints and have the potential to reduce your driver’s – and your company’s – liability.
- Accidents & Negligence: In the event of an accident, without documented proof that inspections have been performed properly and in full, a case for negligence could have costly consequences.
- Vehicle Lifespan: Regular inspections can also increase the expected life span of your fleet vehicles, boosting residual values and lowering capital expenses for replacements.
Who are the key players in an effective inspection program?
Drivers, technicians, maintenance supervisors and managers all have a part to play when it comes to ensuring that routine fleet inspections and procedures are followed.
In many cases, daily and pre-trip inspections are required – by law – for vehicles that are used in commercial and business operations, and these procedures are governed and enforced by local authorities.
Pre-trip fleet inspections are usually the responsibility of drivers, and inspections are increasingly reported electronically on Driver Vehicle Inspection Reports (DVIRs). Typically, this type of inspection includes visual checks to ensure that items such as tires, steering, mirrors, brakes and lighting are working properly.
Many fleets also include inspection procedures and checklists for vehicles as they arrive back on company grounds, or in specially designated inspection lanes in shops. At those locations, trained maintenance personnel can be tasked with covering a series of items so immediate issues can be fixed quickly, avoiding costly vehicle downtime and breakdowns.
What do inspection personnel need to know?
Inspection personnel should have access to easy-to-use procedures and checklists.
It’s also important to invest in training both drivers and technicians on how to conduct thorough vehicle inspections. This goes a long way toward avoiding costly issues and non-compliance problems. Such training should include how to identify warning signs.
Spelling out why it is important to adhere to inspection programs and practices – for regulatory fleet compliance and to eliminate the cost of unscheduled repairs from your bottom line – helps ensure that prescribed procedures are followed correctly.
What role does technology play in fleet inspections?
The best approaches to effective vehicle inspections take advantage of fleet management software capabilities. Utilizing software that helps drivers and technicians record inspection results makes procedures both routine and efficient.
Paperless inspection and defect management software allows you to collect real-time information from drivers to monitor the condition of vehicles and equipment. Mobile Forms Apps are used to inspect vehicles to ensure they are roadworthy, or identify and report defects – it also relieves your mobile workforce and your shop personnel from tiresome and costly paperwork... and your administrative staff from time consuming data entry.
With advanced fleet maintenance software enabled on mobile devices such as smart phones and tablets, you have the ability to:
- Provide routine vehicle inspections on standardized forms
- Capture notes and images of equipment issues
- Report potential faults or defects
- Automatically generate work orders for needed repairs.
Detailed, accurate and up-to-date inspection records are also key to meeting regulatory and legal compliance needs. In most jurisdictions, requirements are in place for documenting inspection processes and maintaining accessible records.
Detailed records of inspections and the issues they addressed can be helpful as well in developing and revising more effective procedures.