When your business relies on fleet trucks, effective asset maintenance can make all the difference between profitability and just getting by. A comprehensive fleet truck maintenance program is the essential ingredient for preventing breakdowns, improving asset utilization, meeting customer expectations, and enhancing overall business performance.
Fleet management requires upfront planning and effort, but the long-term payoff is clear. By following industry best practices, your fleet assets will deliver the value your enterprise needs in today’s competitive market.
Why is fleet truck maintenance important?
Fleet leaders are shifting their approach from reactive maintenance to preventive maintenance to avoid breakdowns, emergency repairs, and delivery delays. Keeping fleet trucks in top shape also provides the benefit of realizing a longer life cycle, which means a lower capital investment in new assets.
Truck maintenance safeguards drivers
As a manager, you must ensure your drivers are safe when they’re on the road, and that means limiting the risk of preventable accidents. Broken turn signals or tire wear, for example, hamper the driver’s ability to stay in control and safely operate the vehicle. Risks, such as mechanical or electrical failure, can endanger both the operator and other drivers on the road.
When trucks are in good working condition, it reduces the risk of accidents. In addition, safe operation translates into lower insurance costs, more opportunity to receive warranty service, and improved adherence to regulations.
Regulations mandate fleet maintenance
Fleet operations must comply with all federal, state, and local laws because failure to do so can result in fines and costly corrective action. Regulations dictate reporting requirements, inspection frequencies, and registration details.
However, keep in mind the more critical aspect of meeting fleet truck regulations is backing up your efforts with documentation. In other words, you must meet expected measures while also gathering data to demonstrate everything you’re doing is aligned with regulations.
Prompt upkeep reduces operational costs
Reactive maintenance is a mindset that leads to higher operational costs down the road. Keep to a schedule, inspect trucks regularly, and make the appropriate fixes in a way that balances costs, risks, and asset criticality.
Preventive and predictive maintenance leads to lower costs and a stable budget. When your maintenance strategy optimizes performance, you can forecast your future needs more reliably across the enterprise.
Preventive maintenance means fewer delays
Dependable truck fleets earn your business a reputation for reliability. But the opposite also applies. Surprise downtime is not only frustrating; roadside breakdowns also cause missed deadlines and compromise customers’ trust.
Driver satisfaction is also tied to fleet assets. When truck operators have to deal with unexpected vehicle issues, they aren’t motivated to do their best work.
8 ways to improve fleet truck maintenance
You know the importance of creating a maintenance strategy and tracking your results for continual quality improvement. Even minor improvements can make work processes easier and more efficient — especially when combined with modern tools, such as enterprise asset management (EAM) or computerized maintenance management software (CMMS).
Our fleet maintenance toolkit provides a good starting point to build an effective maintenance program. Here’s how to further improve fleet truck maintenance, optimize procedures, and address challenges.
1. Start at the top
Today, fleet maintenance managers have many responsibilities. In addition to maintaining vehicles and recruiting drivers, fleet managers often have high-level enterprise responsibilities such as making strategic and financial decisions. Managers need to know what they’re accountable for, and what their staff is accountable for.
Your maintenance policies should define who’s responsible for what, with a consistent methodology that’s easy to follow. Make sure employees know what to do to complete their assignments, and who to turn to if they have questions.
Implementing an EAM software platform that tracks activities by team member can help you ensure accountability. It also provides the information your technicians need to get the job done all in one place.
2. Analyze future needs
Proactive maintenance means considering what your assets will require in the future and address those needs at a time that makes the most sense. But it’s not just about the assets themselves. Proactive fleet maintenance involves a combination of people, processes, and tasks.
You should forecast inspections, routine maintenance, and the need for parts and materials for each vehicle well into the future. A forward-looking plan allows technicians to view, and plan for, upcoming work.
Helping staff take control of their schedules allows them to stay accountable and productive. Because no matter how thorough your maintenance program, there will always be unexpected breakdowns and the need for a quick pivot by your teams to respond.
3. Track inventory levels
Parts availability is key to completing repairs and upgrades, but technicians may spend valuable time searching for inventory information. A maintenance software solution that supports inventory tracking simplifies the entire process and boosts productivity.
With a true source of centralized data, teams can check for essential parts and ensure stock is available when and where they need it. Inventory tracking and ordering notifications should always come from the same system that handles work orders in order to align purchases.
4. Manage work requests
Auto-generating work orders for routine maintenance is a timesaver and makes for a steady, predictable workload. It’s the unexpected requests — the immediate fixes and emergency breakdowns — that throw a wrench into a planned schedule.
As a manager, you’re responsible for vetting sudden requests, and a fleet maintenance solution that sends out work order notifications is the easiest way to address work orders quickly. Not only can you keep the big picture in mind when it comes to resource loading and scheduling, but you can make informed decisions about which tasks to prioritize when your EAM puts all the data at your fingertips.
5. Make vehicle inspections easier
Incorporating inspections into a maintenance program is essential. Support your operators by providing access to the information they need via mobile applications, so they can quickly collect inspection details and be on their way. A modern EAM platform can allow you to add custom fields to your inspection list, accommodating any specialty assets or variations if you have a variety of vehicles in your fleet.
6. Strive for data integrity
For asset data to be useful, it must be complete and accurate. Strict policies and procedures for entering or altering information encourage high-quality data. Asset information is the foundation of your program, and it’s worth outlining a strategy to maximize data quality. After all, it’s data that drives your operations both logistically and financially.
7. Monitor your metrics
You’re likely already monitoring your fleet maintenance metrics, but the secret to their potential is using that data to drive continual improvement. After all, you’re tracking metrics because they’re an essential part of assessing the health of your assets and your business.
Measurements help evaluate performance, define benchmarks, and set strategic goals. For example, you can learn a lot by tracking utilization rates, idle time, and total cost of ownership. Use the power of fleet maintenance software to capture data that’s most relevant to your business, so valuable insights don’t go unnoticed.
8. Move to cloud-based technology
It might seem like technology changes too often. But the right technology platform will grow with your business, scaling up to include more fleet vehicles, more data, and personalized support to make the tools work for you. Outdated solutions hinder your ability to scale, and upgrading to a cloud-based platform provides the modern capabilities you might be missing.
For example, if you’re storing fleet data locally, you would need to interrupt your activity to walk or drive to a particular workstation to access information. A cloud-based, mobile solution is a better fit when you and your teams are always on the move and need to access your data in real time. Similarly, cloud-based platforms update automatically, so you don’t need to take action are required to gain the newest capabilities.
Using fleet maintenance management software
Today’s cloud-based software links all aspects of your fleet business, automating tasks, and providing valuable business intelligence so that you can focus on what’s important — keeping the fleet moving.
With intelligent software, you can get automatic notifications that support your efforts to extending an asset’s uptime. You can adjust inventory appropriately and drive greater productivity. You can analyze all your data with the big-picture in mind, too. That results in lower costs and better business outcomes.