Preventive maintenance for fleets and fleet service providers
Whether you are a fleet manager or you are a fleet service provider responsible for performing routine maintenance for fleets, implementing a successful preventive maintenance process is critical to keeping each piece of equipment in operation. Managing the scope of operations required in preventive maintenance can be challenging, but the right tools and processes can make a big difference.
What is preventive maintenance?
A good preventive maintenance program is made up of a series of activities and processes that manage the inspection and regular maintenance of vehicles and equipment. Taking care of maintenance at key intervals can greatly reduce the likelihood of breakdowns and can keep control and profitability in the hands of the fleet manager.
Preventive maintenance could include everything from regular inspections, oil changes, tire rotations, and tune-ups, to more complex maintenance items such as replacement of components before their expected failure or MTBF.
Why implement a preventive maintenance program/process?
Routine maintenance keeps fleets on the road, lowers unit cost per mile/hour, and allows fleet and equipment managers to better control and forecast profitability by decreasing unforeseen costs and lost revenue. Since 2015, over 13% of services performed are Preventive Maintenance related. According to Wrench.com, preventive-maintenance related (mileage based) services have increased 300% as service and delivery demands have increased during the pandemic. To lower TCO and increase revenues, fleets are focusing on the following 3 areas:
- Preventive maintenance to decrease downtime and costs
- Faster repairs (sub 24 hour response times to get vehicles on the road)
- Partnering with service providers that offer 24/7 service and mobile service offerings
Fleets are using the above strategies to be more profitable and providers who provide them are gaining an advantage over their competitors.
What are the benefits?
A good maintenance program will provide you or your customers the following benefits:
Proper maintenance and inspection of vehicles and equipment significantly reduces the likelihood of equipment breakdowns and failures. It also provides more opportunities to find problems with failing equipment before they break down in the field. Most manufacturers provide specific suggested maintenance recommendations that should be included in your plan for each unit and piece of equipment.
Decreased repair costs and lost revenue
Breakdowns and complete failures of equipment and components are often more expensive than the cost of the maintenance that could have prevented them. Unexpected breakdowns can also lead to significant losses in revenue due to the vehicle or equipment being out of service.
Some estimates show that the average lost revenue to be between $1000-$1500 per vehicle unit / per day.
Improved equipment lifespan & warranty
Correct maintenance decreases wear, can aid in avoiding damage, and is shown to increase the lifespan of vehicles and equipment. As mentioned above, most manufacturers provide proven maintenance recommendations, and following them protects your investment and may also be required in order to keep the equipment under warranty.
Performing regular maintenance and inspections can catch major safety issues before accidents happen. Evaluating tires, brakes, coupling systems, lights, and other common safety concerns, can greatly reduce the likelihood of dangerous accidents that can lead to injuries and financial losses.
A study in Washington state by SHARP (Safety and Health Assessment and Research for Prevention) stated, “Injury rates in trucking are far above the state average for all other industries combined.” The study took place over a 6 year period and noted that about 70% of injuries occured to drivers. There were 52 fatalities reported. With losses in the 100’s of millions and over 500k lost work days, the cost of injury is extremely high.
Implementing a preventative maintenance program
Putting a successful preventive maintenance program in place requires that you focus on some fundamental elements:
The status of each vehicle unit or piece of equipment must be known. An initial, comprehensive inspection should be performed and any issues documented and resolved. Usage data should be gathered to help predict future maintenance.
Putting together the plan
Each individual unit or piece of equipment is going to need its own unique maintenance plan.
The type of vehicle or equipment, how it is utilized, the expected mileage or hours of utilization in a given time period, and environmental factors such as seasonal weather, should all be taken into account.
Specific maintenance operations should be scheduled to be performed at specific dates or intervals based on the data collected.
Implement business processes
Every employee is a key component of your preventive maintenance program, from your drivers to your fleet managers. Each key player may have a different role, like providing early inspections, to actively monitoring, scheduling, and performing maintenance services.
At the time a new unit or piece of equipment is acquired, a plan should be put in place, each key individual should be trained on their responsibilities, and documented processes should be described and provided to those individuals.
Keep good records
Accurate record keeping is required in a successful maintenance program. Documenting details like time-stamped mileage and hours, warnings, and dates of each service, should be part of the minimum requirements for your record keeping. Keeping accurate records may also be required for compliance with governing entities, depending on the type of equipment being used.
Utilize modern tools
Modern tools like Fleet Maintenance Software, and Preventive Maintenance tracking software can help simplify all aspects of your preventive maintenance program. Implementing software controls can save time, ensure compliance, and can minimize mistakes and human error.
Software tools should include the following features:
- Ease of use : Preventive maintenance and Fleet maintenance software should be easy to use and should be able to implement and track preventive maintenance services on day one.
- Data Storage :
- Storage of information on vehicle units and equipment.
- Storage and tracking of key metrics (miles, hours, days, and times serviced)
- Reusable services / Service templates : Creating reusable preventive maintenance services that can be associated with each unique unit and that have customizable intervals based on miles, hours, or days.
- Robust reporting capabilities for individual units, groups of units by customer or fleet, and advanced reporting such as “Cost per mile” reporting for each vehicle unit.
- Preventative maintenance notifications that alert operators, managers, and other key individuals that services are due. Robust solutions provide multiple reporting intervals that can send alerts before, when, and even after services are due.
- Online Portal : Fleet service businesses can also get software that provides maintenance schedules to their fleet customers and can provide online portals where those fleets can view work to be performed, work in progress, and work completed.
All of the concepts that we discussed are well known but can be daunting to take on. The most important step is getting started. You can begin by implementing good processes, with pen and paper solutions. You can always expand later. Sometimes finding the right partners and tools can help you cross the barrier of entry and make real traction in your fleet or fleet service business. Being competitive in the fleet service business often requires software tooling to provide key data to your customers and to ensure repeat business. When looking at the cost and overhead of implementing a robust fleet management program, software tools can take the edge off and can lower the cost of ownership for those programs.
Pluss Software offers a robust set of software tools designed to make managing preventive maintenance services a breeze. For more information check out our offerings here :