Fleet Maintenance

Organizations need to keep rolling. The health of the commercial vehicles they use every day is a top priority as it can indicate the well-being of a business. This guide will explore fleet maintenance, its implementation, best practices, and what it takes to manage it all.

What is fleet maintenance?

Fleet maintenance is the practice of keeping an organization’s vehicles and equipment operating in the best and safest condition possible. Its end goal is maintaining a transportation asset’s functionality longer than expectations and within repair and replacement budgets by implementing a regular maintenance schedule.

Fleet maintenance is a function of fleet and management. Fleet management is the over-arching framework that oversees the performance of a fleet of vehicles and their maintenance. In this guide, we’ll show how it helps businesses run as efficiently as possible and increase productivity. For schools, fleet maintenance can fall under bus maintenance management.

How does fleet maintenance work?

Fleet maintenance is the go-to resource to measure a vehicle’s performance. Advanced digital fleet maintenance software can provide dashboards, scorecards, and data analysis revealing the fleet’s condition. It becomes a forecasting tool by nature, as high breakdown rates or costly repairs can demonstrate how vehicles are wearing or trending toward replacement.

A strong fleet maintenance strategy begins with preventive maintenance. Oil changes, tire rotations, belt changes, mileage recording, engine inspection, and routine service are a few of the items an organization might find on its fleet maintenance schedule. These tasks are often scheduled based on the manufacturer’s recommended maintenance timeframes.

A good fleet maintenance program provides a complete history of any work or work orders carried out on a vehicle. This retrievable record can aid in determining if a repair is a recurring part design flaw or a costly full-blown core mechanical issue. Mechanics and technicians can use the data to make better-informed decisions and lower operational costs.

What are the benefits of fleet maintenance?

Fleet maintenance can provide data-driven metrics that help measure and quantify many aspects of fleet management. Fleet transportation departments can make better decisions through the tracking and qualitative analysis fleet maintenance offers.
Some fleet maintenance benefits to consider:

Improved safety compliance

Safety is the number one concern for any transportation department. Fleet maintenance must maintain and exceed regulatory safety requirements for their drivers, passengers, and maintenance personnel. Creating historical records and critical safety inspection checklists can show a department’s compliance measures.

Fuel cost reduction

By performing routine gas fill-ups and taking regular odometer mileage readings, organizations can easily tally asset utilization cost-per-mile statistics and check them against preventive maintenance milestones like filter replacements, part replacements, and more. The analysis can lead to fuel savings.

Maintenance cost reduction

Seeing as how breakdowns and emergency repairs typically cost four times as much as the preventive maintenance required to keep an asset running, fleet maintenance quickly becomes a cost-effective way to keep departments profitable and within budget. By following fleet maintenance schedules, organizations immediately see the number of repair orders drop drastically. Fleet maintenance helps eliminate issues before they become problems and decreases costly vehicle downtime.

What analytics can fleet maintenance deliver?

Analytics track performance, measure success, and define the ultimate goals of a department. Fleet maintenance has a few that should be considered tent pole achievements for any transportation department. 

  • Vehicle purchases: Using the data provided by fleet maintenance, you will know if a purchased vehicle added value to the fleet or was a clunker. The data can also be used as a heads-up as to when a vehicle needs to be replaced due to high operating costs and provide vital statistics on what to look for in a manufacturer’s vehicle description when making a new purchase. 
  • Proof of compliance: As stated before, safety is the biggest concern of any transportation department. Fleet maintenance provides the necessary history of inspections needed for regulatory audits and keeps an organization updated with the latest OSHA, federal, and state guidelines. 
  • Data-driven preventive maintenance schedules and reporting: Not only is it essential to schedule recommended and routine maintenance for fleet vehicles, but it’s also best practice to track and quantify if vehicle repair work is prolonging an asset’s life and maximizing performance. It can also help in reducing labor costs and keeping track of parts and inventory. 
  • Fuel efficiency: The most significant budget waster for fleet operations is inefficient fuel consumption. Fleet maintenance is not only a benefit that can boost fuel efficiency for maintained vehicles but also a way to find out what vehicles may be guzzlers in an equipment fleet and need attention. 

 Each organization is different. Align fleet maintenance analytics to hone in on the business problems your transportation department answered or that will improve operations. A CMMS like FMX can help automate the process. 

How can CMMS software help?

A CMMS centralizes all completed and future fleet maintenance tasks in one place. Most have easily accessible advanced reporting features that can tie all the information each job provided into a predetermined KPI. Many fleet transportation departments will assign VMRS (Vehicle Maintenance Reporting Standards) coding into a CMMS system so there’s a standard vocabulary used that can be understood by all stakeholders. Maintenance costs can also be added to keep an eye on budgets.

The CMMS with VMRS is a powerful combination that identifies failures and problems faster and extrapolates data much quicker than manual or paper processes. The software delivers better overall fleet performance in a more timely fashion that does not create downtime or impact operations. Seventy-five percent of fleet managers rely on some form of fleet management software to support day-to-day operations and scheduled maintenance with real-time analytical data and reporting.

What is a fleet manager, and what do they do?

As you may have guessed, fleet managers are in charge of fleet operations and oversee every aspect of fleet operations, including fuel consumption, fuel costs, driver management, repair requests, asset upkeep and utilization, route planning, and fleet vehicle maintenance. Driver safety, retention, operation, and fleet tracking are part of their daily routine.

Fleet managers are usually the team leaders assigned to decrease waste and find new ways to increase an organization’s bottom line. Productivity and uptime are of concern to efficient fleet managers. Fleet managers are responsible for a CMMS or any other software or tools that can reduce costs, increase profits, and extend the life of assets.

Summary - Fleet Maintenance

This overview of fleet maintenance can help outline a new course of action for your organization. The name of the fleet maintenance game is prevention, detection, and analysis. When utilizing a CMMS, all three can work together to reduce breakdowns, eliminate downtime, and prolong the longevity of your fleet.