Labor, tires, and ever-fluctuating gas prices have all been steadily adding to the overall cost of maintaining fleets in recent years. Fortunately for fleet managers, there has also been a number of countervailing technological innovations that, if implemented effectively, can help combat rising costs. Maintenance management software makes implementing these measures much easier, while also providing mission-critical information on overall costs that can improve decisions about fleet lifecycles.
Here are 5 ways to use maintenance management software to make fleets more efficient and increase uptime:
1. Fine-tune tire pressure, balance and replacement cycles. It’s obvious that the cost of tires has risen steeply in recent years. What’s less obvious, however, is what can be done about it. Some fleet managers have responded by extending their tire replacement cycle—sometimes up to a year or two above normal. This, however, is a risky strategy. The increased threat of a blowout leaves drivers less safe, and when blowouts do occur, they often require roadside repairs that are, on average, much costlier than routine maintenance.
A smarter approach is to keep better track of tire inflation and balance by using a robust maintenance software program. According to Tom Gelinas, Editorial Director of Fleet Equipment Magazine, “many, if not most, fleets have not initiated a comprehensive tire management program, nor do they accurately know the expense they incur for tires.” Low tire pressure can significantly increase gas usage. Fortunately, it’s easy to keep pressure levels regular if you have a consistent, thorough preventive maintenance routine. Balancing beads can be also can be added to tires in order to even out wear patterns and extend their useful life. Simple measures like these can safely extend tire life cycles.
2. Prevent inventory shortages. Parts shortages are a major cause of downtime and rental costs for fleets. Maintaining efficient inventory levels for parts can be challenging without enterprise-class inventory software that can track exactly what’s on hand, which locations have which parts, and trigger alerts when levels are getting low. Prices for tires and other fleet components have been increasing steadily in recent years, making it essential to avoid rush shipping and other costs associated with poorly managed parts inventory.
3. Don’t overstock parts, either. Carrying costs are the flipside of shortages. Without realizing it, fleet managers may have more parts on hand than they need, and the excess can be costly to store. Parts left in storage are liable to degenerate over time if they are exposed to extreme temperatures or moisture. Optimizing inventory quantity levels is thus a matter of finding the right range, with a minimum and a maximum, for each type of part. In order to locate this range, it is vital to track data with maintenance software.
4. Adjust PM schedules to reflect new repair demands. Engines are becoming more fuel efficient and, in many cases, more reliable than ever before. At the same time, however, average repair costs climbed 10% in 2012. This is partly because vehicles are aging and experiencing more ‘catastrophic failures.’ According to CarMD, repairs for these catastrophic failures jumped 24% in 2012. In response, fleet managers and owners must stay on top of their routine inspections if they want to catch underlying problems that could result in the costliest repairs.
5. Consider upgrading to hybrid. Hybrids were the only type of vehicle for which average repair costs actually decreased in 2012. As they have become more widely adopted, the parts and qualified technicians needed to service these vehicles are easier to find. Overall, vehicles are becoming increasingly reliable as technology evolves, so a full fleet upgrade might be something to consider. A maintenance software platform with robust reporting capability will take the guesswork out of determining how much money is being spent on fleet repairs. This information is key in determining whether it’s time to upgrade.
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