Learning Zone

Why is fleet vehicle maintenance important?

By Ellen Sowerby
25 January 2021

Reduce downtime, control costs, meet compliance regulations and keep your customers through effective fleet maintenance management.

 

What is Fleet Maintenance?

 

Fleet maintenance refers to the steps taken to ensure that your assets are fit for use and operating in a good condition – these assets include anything with mechanical components, be it a car, lorry or piece of machinery; they need regular maintenance to enable correct functionality and an increased lifespan.

 

An asset that is out of commission costs money and these losses can stack up quite quickly if such downtime runs into unscheduled weeks rather than days, perhaps due to waiting on parts or not having the man-hours available to fulfil tasks.

 

If this happens across the entire fleet, this ‘waste’ can soon have a negative impact on the profitability of a business. Here are a number of ways to ensure business costs are reduced and operation efficiency improved:

 

Know your fleet vehicles

 

Your first step is knowing when your vehicles need servicing, what is required, the parts needed and an allocation in the planning schedule or program for downtime. These are all important best practices for preventive maintenance. You can then make an accurate assessment of the costs for both parts and labor.

 

But take our advice: don’t be tempted to opt for cheaper parts instead of choosing the manufacturer recommended ones to save money. This often proves a false economy in the long run as the life expectancy of substitutes may be less and a vehicle manufacturers warranty could become invalid.

 

Remember, time is money, so you need to ensure maintenance jobs are completed within a set time allocation – if a technician exceeds this on all jobs, it is your responsibility to investigate and come up with solutions.

 

In addition, allocations for carrying out preventative maintenance on a vehicle with renowned troublesome issues can minimize the risk of longer periods of costly vehicle downtime down the line.

Reduce downtime

 

If your vehicles are out of commission they are a financial burden to your business. The best way to avoid vehicle downtime is to plan ahead.

 

Buy the parts you need in advance either manually or automatically through a designated supplier. Having a good inventory management program is key to this. In addition, you can check the availability of the workforce against existing job cards.

 

Technician jobs such as completing inspection sheets and carrying out vehicle servicing can be automated through software. Such an application permits workshop managers to oversee that the work has been carried out and is to be completed on schedule.

 

Ensure compliance 

 

Being recognized as compliant can be a cumbersome task, but the very reason that legal requirements are being acted upon is to ensure that vehicles are safe for employees and other road users. Imagine taking a vehicle out on the road with faulty brakes and the accident that could happen should they fail…

 

All of your vehicles need to meet certain safety standards before they can become operative, which is followed by regular service and maintenance checks. Commercial vehicles can be called in for roadside spot checks carried out by the regulatory organisations to ensure that they are compliant with the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) Compliance, Safety and Accountability (CSA) checks. With five million truck and bus drivers and more than 250 million car users on the roads, safety is paramount.

 

You need to make sure your technicians have the correct skills and training to carry out compliance maintenance on vehicles. If you don’t do this it could mean you are letting potentially unsafe vehicles leave the workshop. This invalidates regulatory requirements, and puts both your staff and other road users at risk.

 

Retain customers 

 

The benefits of running a safe and well-maintained fleet will reflect in the kudos it brings to your business.

 

A good reputation can go a long way in maintaining a contract. The last thing a customer wants is to be embroiled in a negative news story concerning one of their suppliers. Similarly, end users are more likely to purchase products and services from a company that has a compliant supply chain that cares about the welfare of their employees and customers.

 

And having a safety culture within your business boosts staff morale. Employees feel valued by working for a company that prioritizes their safety and is prepared to put the necessary processes in place to maintain welfare.