Fleet maintenance has a large impact on overall operating costs and a company’s ability to deliver shipments on time. The best way to keep fleet management costs down and ensure vehicle reliability is to practice regular preventative maintenance. Preventative maintenance for fleet vehicles ranges from simple tasks such as oil changes to replacing an exhaust system. The hard part is remembering when each of these responsibilities needs to take place. The best way to do this is by scheduling maintenance activities ahead. Most maintenance activities will fall into the three categories listed below.
Annual checks of vehicle body and operational components are recommended by most manufacturers. Maintenance activities are primarily inspections. The number of inspections increases with newer vehicles that feature digital displays and driving systems. Common annual inspections consist of latch, electric system, and chassis checks. This type of maintenance is often scheduled via maintenance log or company calendar.
Maintenance plans most frequently get derailed when trying to plan for activities that take place after reaching a specific number of miles. The best way to ensure service intervals aren’t missed is by actively monitoring miles. Successful maintenance programs require odometer checks at regular intervals. This can be completed on a daily, weekly, or monthly basis depending on fleet size and usage frequency.
Oil changes, fluid checks, and tire rotation are common activities that are performed after a vehicle has surpassed a set amount of miles. Oftentimes associated tasks are performed within a range of ± 250 miles of the determined odometer reading. Many of these maintenance processes are integral to vehicle performance and keeping overall costs at a minimum. Ancillary activities regularly get added to the list of items performed at these intervals.
In addition to vehicle care are routine safety checks. Comprehensive fleet management plans recommend performing basic inspections before operation or at regular intervals. Basic safety activities include checking tire pressure, ensuring appropriate oil and washer fluid levels, and investigating any vehicle alarms or check engine notifications.
There are a variety of ways that a maintenance schedule can be created for fleet management plans. The most common way to track is using a physical log. Many maintenance logs are simply expansions of oil change notes. One or more technicians will record the date, vehicle ID, task, and any notes. Issues can arise if a log is lost or up to date information isn’t recorded.
Organizations that use Outlook, Google, or other business systems have access to a digital calendar. Items are scheduled in advance by choosing calendar dates. These calendars provide the ability to look at a maintenance schedule as a whole, making it easy to identify when different tasks will be completed. Team members can be added to each task by sending a meeting invite. Notifications can be created to remind technicians of upcoming work.
Cloud asset management software takes fleet management a few steps further by providing traceability, related attachment access, and automation. When scheduling fleet maintenance tasks in a digital calendar, a manager can view historical records for a specific vehicle by performing a search within the calendar. Asset management software allows easy searching by clicking on an asset # and viewing maintenance history. Information can be added to each maintenance record that includes assigned technicians, a task type, and visual representation of overdue work.
Referring to a vehicle manual is important when performing fleet maintenance. Asset management software gives you the ability to attach manuals, checklists, or vehicle images to a specific asset. To access the manual, a technician would simply select the asset # and open attachments. Any type of sign off required after maintenance is completed can be attached to the asset #. Images can be used to detail vehicle condition, highlight repairs, or provide visual verification of completed tasks.
Cloud asset management software works with RFID and cycle tracking technology to make fleet maintenance scheduling simple. RFID allows for quickly locating the vehicle that needs service and necessary tooling. A meter or other cycle tracking device can be installed in the vehicle, allowing mileage to be updated in the system.
Regardless of the fleet management method selected, consistency and simplicity are key. Make sure that the system implemented can be used by anyone involved in the preventative maintenance process. Ensure that everyone knows how to schedule tasks, assign technicians, check completed work, and track historical maintenance records.