For the average person, it’s not that hard to keep a car on the road. But easy doesn’t scale, which means the challenges for the average fleet manager are exponentially harder, and also include ongoing driver shortages, fluctuating fuel costs, unexpected regulatory changes, and tough decisions about if and when to implement new technologies. 

To keep your operations streamlined even as they grow, you need to take steps to have the fleet maintenance fundamentals in place. 

Consider the benefits of fleet maintenance  

Fleet maintenance focuses on keeping vehicles on the road by servicing and repairing them. The manager’s job is to track service schedules, the history of repairs, and the parts needed for standard preventive maintenance tasks. It’s their job to implement an efficient fleet maintenance program that cuts costs and extends the life of the fleet.  

The benefits of fleet maintenance include better: 

  • Compliance  
  • Reliability  
  • Performance  
  • Cost savings

Understand the differences between preventive and corrective maintenance 

There are two types of fleet maintenance: preventive and corrective. Preventative maintenance is a series of regularly scheduled tasks designed to prevent problems, and usually includes checking fluids, filters, and brakes. The goal is to catch small issues before they turn into expensive repairs. Corrective maintenance means fixing problems as they occur.  

Scheduling preventive maintenance allows businesses to plan for the costs associated with vehicle repairs. It’s keeping a close eye on vehicles, ensuring they’re ready for the road, and ultimately, reducing the risk of accidents. 

Preventive maintenance includes: 

  • Oil changes 
  • Filter replacement 
  • Tire rotation and pressure checks 
  • Remote start key reprogramming 
  • Brake pad replacements 
  • Fluid replenishment or changes 
  • Scheduled oil changes 
  • Wheel alignment 
  • Changing air filters 

Corrective maintenance is the repair or replacement of parts that become broken or worn during vehicle operation.  

Corrective maintenance includes: 

  • Changing a broken light bulb 
  • Replacing the windshield wipers 
  • Fixing a flat tire 

When a vehicle breaks down, all the things you do to get it on the road falls under the category of corrective maintenance. 

Hire the best fleet maintenance team

First things first: there are three types of fleet maintenance workers: the mechanic, the driver, and the dispatcher.  

The mechanic is responsible for inspecting and repairing vehicles. They may also be responsible for ordering parts and keeping records of repairs. In larger fleets, a mechanic works in a shop with access to tools and information about what knowledge is needed to service different types of vehicles. They work to complete repairs within very specific time windows and may receive bonuses for meeting goals. 

The driver is responsible for driving the vehicle and following all safety regulations. They may also be responsible for reporting any problems with the vehicle to the mechanic. The dispatcher coordinates all fleet maintenance tasks, reports any problems or accidents to management, and schedules appointments for the mechanic to inspect vehicles. 

But how do you go about hiring the right people for these jobs?  

The best way to attract good mechanics is to: 

  • Offer competitive wages and benefits 
  • Maintain a good reputation within the industry 
  • Train new employees while offering ongoing development 

Maintaining a good track record isn’t arbitrary. Fleet managers have to maintain on-time delivery/schedules and keep their vehicles running. 

Drivers are typically looking for steady work with a good company.  They may also be looking for a company that offers training on new safety regulations. It’s up to you to provide ongoing training for drivers, along with other useful information on vehicles or other assets. 

Dispatchers are the key to a well-run fleet and need to have good communication skills and be able to handle multiple tasks simultaneously. They should also be able to work within tight deadlines.  

Keep you operation cost effective

You might think that fleet maintenance costs are high because without data, it’s hard to gauge what you should be spending on parts and repairs. The cost of parts is generally a small percentage of overall fleet maintenance costs. The real expense comes from labor and lost company time. For example, a commercial oil change for a semi-truck can cost anywhere from $200 to as much as $425, requiring 4-6 hours of labor to complete. 

It’s possible to take charge and keep costs low. Some things you can do now: 

  • Use diagnostic tools and equipment to identify problems quickly  
  • Report findings immediately 
  • Perform preventive maintenance at the right time 

Maximize profits by analyzing cost data over time and researching other parts distributors. Fleet managers can make better decisions by understanding what’s causing problems, when they’re occurring, and who can best solve them. 

Manage fleet logistics

Fleet maintenance workers should be familiar with fleet logistics, which is the process of organizing and managing the flow of goods and materials to meet production goals. 

There are a few components of fleet logistics that are important for fleet maintenance workers to know. These include: 

  • Route planning 
  • Order processing 
  • Inventory 
  • Transportation 

Monitor driver behavior to keep drivers accountable for following safety standards. Be active in scheduling trips effectively and efficiently, reviewing past trips to understand where improvements can be made, and generating reports to aid in making important decisions. 

There are larger fleet logistics challenges that might be hard to navigate too: 

  • Coordinating with other departments 
  • Inefficient routing 
  • Inconsistent demand 
  • Lack of communication 

These challenges can have a significant impact on fleet maintenance. For example, missed deadlines can happen if coordination with other departments is poor. Inefficient routing leads to longer delivery times and increased costs. Inconsistent demand gives way to shortages of goods and materials. And, lack of communication leads to misunderstandings and errors. 

The best way to overcome these challenges is by having an effective communication plan in place. Have all team members review and update information on a shared, digital system. The right technology improves information-share, and has the added benefit of cost control and reduced lost time due to unplanned breakdowns.

Implement the right fleet maintenance software

Fleet management software provides detailed records of repair and maintenance jobs, allows managers to set alerts for tasks, and helps plan the correct amount of time between service appointments. Cloud-based software like ManagerPlus© Lightning provides instant access to data so you can stop waiting longer on parts or repairs.  

Lightning provides a robust platform that provides real-time data to fleet managers. With historical data, choose vendors who are more cost-effective and provide the right parts quickly. Mechanics, drivers, and other in-house personnel will have that information available too so they know when it’s their time to take action.  

For example, a mechanic might notice a recalled vehicle part. Major damage can come about if the part is not replaced across the fleet. In this case, the mechanic would report the issue to dispatch, who would then notify management. With ManagerPlus Lightening, this information would be available in real-time so that a solution could be put into place. If your budget is an issue, leverage the software to calculate estimated replacement costs so you can take appropriate action. 

Next-level maintenance software like Lightning does more than account for repairs. 

It accounts for people. 

Drivers view their upcoming work schedules and map their routes with accuracy. Availability of information helps the dispatcher make sure the right number and type of trucks are available for service. Mechanics can also take advantage of the technology to make sure their work orders are accurate and that they can move from one location to another as efficiently as possible. 

Additional features: 

  • Work order generation – track any repairs done off-site and quickly and schedule work orders for future service. 
  • Advanced reporting and analytic tools. 
  • Run detailed reports on the work. 
  • Having one fleet maintenance software platform to manage all your assets saves time and money by optimizing your workflow.

Next steps

Set up a call with one of our experts to discuss how Lightning can help you transition to a new, more efficient way of working. 

Summary 

You don’t have to wait until some undefined timeframe in the future if you’re ready to streamline your fleet maintenance ops right now. Get the right people in. Improve communication. Understand the history of your fleet. Maintain the right relationships. Do what you can to boost your reputation. Finally, adopt the right technology to really take your operations up a notch. 

ManagerPlus© Lightning is a powerful solution that provides fast, accurate details about all the vehicles in your fleet and the people on your team. Track fuel usage, mileage and vehicle performance, and identify potential issues before they make waves within your organization.

About the author

Maxine Harrison

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