Looking for ways to improve your fleet maintenance operations but aren’t sure where to start?
We sat down with Daniel, one of our fleet experts, to ask him what some of the biggest challenges are facing fleet maintenance managers today and some practical ways to improve your maintenance operations to get more from your vehicles.
1. Move away from reactive maintenance
It’s not uncommon to find a fleet running on the “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it” mentality. They simply run their vehicles until there’s a problem then send them off to get repaired. The problem with that is it ends up costing you more in the long run.
Waiting until your vehicle goes down until you fix it means that if it goes down unexpectedly in the middle of the day, you suddenly have a driver without a vehicle. Now you have to scramble to find them another one or you’re paying them for nothing.
Daniel recommends adopting a strategy of preventive maintenance where you track the mileage of your vehicles and make small repairs along the way to prevent bigger issues from developing in the first place.
A classic example of this is engine oil. You already know from manufacturer recommendations and years of experience that engine oil should be replaced every few thousand miles. Not performing this small, inexpensive task regularly can lead to the engine seizing, which is not a small, inexpensive issue to fix.
Preventive maintenance also makes it easier to keep track of your repair costs and really see how much your vehicles are costing you to maintain. By tracking the small repairs throughout the year, you can discover if one of your vehicles is costing you more than it should at this point and if it might be time to replace it.
2. Track your data
This leads right into Daniel’s second recommendation: track your maintenance and vehicle data. Data is vital to keeping costs under control and boosting productivity, especially in the connected world of Industry 4.0. But it’s not just having data that’s important, you need to have the right data.
You need to keep track of a range of things including:
- Maintenance records
Without insight into these areas, you may be able to keep your fleet running as it is right now, but you won’t really be able to keep your costs down and improve your productivity.
Tracking maintenance records is about more than just costs. You need to know what maintenance has been performed on which vehicles and by which technician. That way you can follow up quickly if there’s a question and you can help junior technicians reach out to more experienced techs when they have questions of their own. You can also see which of your techs might be ready for some more responsibility and which ones might need some more help or training.
Daniel talks to a lot of fleet maintenance managers and one of the most surprising things he has found is that they often don’t know what inventory they have in stock. Vehicle maintenance requires hundreds, if not thousands, of different parts, and not knowing what you have in stock and what you need to order can cause slowdowns and increased costs.
He recommends implementing an inventory tracking system like inventory management software so you can see every item as it comes in your warehouse and gets used across your operations. This kind of insight helps you see exactly what parts you’re using and what items you don’t need to hold in stock.
Did you know that most companies don’t use as much as 90% of their MRO (maintenance, repairs, and operations) inventory every year? Simply looking at exactly what’s getting used every year helps you keep your inventory costs low.
Inspections are a way of life for fleet operators and maintenance professionals. Not only do you need to regularly inspect your vehicles to look for any maintenance issues, but many government regulations also require you to provide proof of regular safety inspections.
Performing and documenting these inspections using pen and paper or even Excel spreadsheets gets the job done, but it’s much more cumbersome and time-consuming than it needs to be.
Daniel recommends taking advantage of inspection management software to help you track and manage your inspections all in one place. You already know when inspections need to take place so you can schedule and assign them ahead of time and your techs can quickly access them, perform them, and sign off on them seamlessly.
Pre- and post-trip inspections are an important way to connect with your customers and help diagnose problems quicker. Your customers can perform inspections and let you know what’s wrong with the vehicle before it even arrives in your bay so you can get a head start on the repairs.
Digital inspections also mean you don’t have to use the clunky forms provided by the U.S. Department of Public Safety (DPS). Eliminating the pen and paper helps you simplify the inspection process and still perform all the inspections needed to stay in compliance.
Plus, they’re always stored in the cloud so you can access them instantly when it’s time for an audit. You can finally get rid of the inspection graveyard (file cabinet).
3. Go mobile
Technicians and operators alike can’t do their jobs from behind a desk. And as demand for quality vehicle repairs only looks to increase in the next few years, you need to enable your techs to get more done on the go.
Daniel says that one of the best things many fleet operators and repair shops have done is to adopt mobile-friendly software with apps that are easy to use so technicians can view, edit, and close out work orders in a snap.
The tricky part is finding software that is simple enough to use that it doesn’t end up becoming an obstacle for your team. The way Daniel puts it: “Using a work order should be as easy as sending a text or checking your Facebook page.”
ManagerPlus© is a fleet management software that is designed to be mobile-friendly which means you can access it from any internet browser. You don’t need to download anything or have a license that only gives you access from the computer in the maintenance office.
Enable your technicians to do everything they need to right from the palm of their hand with the mobile applications. Any Internet-connected device, like a smartphone or tablet, can download the apps and give your team access to just what they need, without having to pay for features they won’t use.
Daniel is often told that one of the best things you can do to optimize your fleet maintenance operations is to go mobile.
How can EAM software help me do all these things?
So far, Daniel has mentioned several tools and how they can help improve your fleet maintenance and management operations. The best part about all these tools is that you can actually get all of them as part of one unified platform called enterprise asset management (EAM) software.
ManagerPlus is a full-service EAM platform that isn't just one tool, it’s an entire toolbox to help you optimize every aspect of your operations. It includes tools like inventory management, fleet management, work order management, and more, all in one always-connected, easy-to-use platform.
Anyone who works in the automotive industry has felt the effects the events of the past year have had. Parts and vehicles are increasingly harder to find due to supply chains being constrained. You need to make sure you can keep vehicles on the road longer and plan ahead for possible shortages of parts and inventory, all while making sure costs don’t get out of hand.
The best way to ensure all those outcomes is with EAM software and the best way to get started with that is by talking to one of our experts, like Daniel. Our team understands the challenges facing fleet operators and service providers today and knows how to help you get the most out of ManagerPlus at your organization. Reach out today to schedule a personalized, one-on-one conversation to learn more, and see the software for yourself.
Keeping vehicles on the road longer while facing a potential shortage of critical parts and inventory and containing costs are all challenges facing fleet operators and service providers today. One of our fleet experts recommends three ways to help meet these challenges:
- Get away from reactive maintenance
- Track critical data
- Mobilize your team
Take advantage of all these features of enterprise asset management (EAM) software, and more, at your organization to streamline your maintenance operations, cut costs, and improve ROI.
About the author
Jason is a storyteller at heart with a career spanning everything from film and TV to iPhones. Just don't expect much before his first cup of coffee.