10 Tips to Keep Your Fleet on the Road
Whether you’re managing a handful of cars and trucks or an entire fleet of diverse vehicles, the success or failure of your maintenance program (and therefore your budget) is dependent on the little details. If they aren’t already, these 10 items should be part of your comprehensive fleet management checklist.
Essential Fleet Maintenance Tasks
- Eliminate paper work orders. Once the number of vehicles being managed extends beyond a handful, the maintenance scheduling can quickly become a full-time job in and of itself. If you’re using software for fleet management that is still largely paper-based in the field, you’re not getting the full tracking ability to keep things on schedule and analyze patterns to correct preventive maintenance plans. A fully automated system lets you track every aspect of fleet management, inventory and budget under one dashboard.
- Digitize your inventory tracking. I hinted above at the benefits of digitizing work orders and coordinating it with inventory. But truly getting a leg up on ordering parts and supplies means getting a real-time picture of your current inventory, which many organizations don’t have. Instituting a system of barcode-scannable inventory and a digitally mapped warehousing system reduces the amount of time personnel spend looking for what they need, and helps you schedule automatic orders to avoid shortages and costly rush orders.
- Develop life-cycle maintenance schedules. Every type of vehicle in the fleet should have a standard schedule of scheduled maintenance, inspections and preventive part replacements to anticipate or prevent corrective repairs. Over time, you can adjust the schedules for vehicle types that are experiencing high breakdown rates or calculate average lifetime costs for each vehicle.
- Institute smart driving programs. Just educating drivers on companywide policies regarding speed limits, smart idling and traffic awareness can change the way that drivers put wear-and-tear on their vehicles. Drivers who know how to regulate speed, coast or park intelligently can improve gas-mileage over time as well.
- Encourage tire inflation and care. Tire care is often overlooked, and it involves more than just checking the pressure once a week. Personnel should have a checklist for inspecting tires for wear, damage and proper inflation based on the load weight. Proper tire care can prevent downtime from unexpected breakdowns if done consistently.
- Educate on load management. Safety and maintenance problems often occur because of improperly balanced and secured loads. Make sure all of your drivers—regardless of the vehicles they’re authorized on—are aware of how to secure and balance cargo for any vehicles they could potentially be asked to help load.
- Create vehicle maintenance and safety checklists. They really are the easiest way to make sure essential items aren’t missed during inspections. Make sure they’re comprehensive and useful enough to cover the critical trouble spots in your maintenance and accident records, and spot check to ensure your drivers and maintenance personnel are using them.
- Institute fleet-wide safety audits. Every location should have at least annual audits on all vehicles in addition to your regular inspections and checklists. Yearly audits are also a chance to catch best practices that have fallen through the cracks.
- Start fleet policy training. Ensure all drivers are trained, not just on mandatory safety training, but guidance on proper safety and maintenance that goes beyond required guidelines. Get signed acknowledgements and keep them on file to ensure that everyone has the training you want them to have.
- Track and monitor roadside incidents. Those who don’t learn from history are doomed to repeat it. That’ old adage includes poor safety and maintenance records. So make sure you’re addressing past maintenance and safety incident patterns with changes to your maintenance schedules and safety checklists.
Author bio: Derek Smith writes about fleet maintenance, safety regulations and business operations for ManagerPlus, an enterprise maintenance software company. When he isn’t doling out safety tips for maintenance managers, you can find him repacking his hiking gear for the umpteenth time.