Last year, fleet maintenance costs per vehicle rose significantly in almost every way that matters. Rising maintenance costs, parts replacement and other expenses erased much of the gains seen from improved vehicle quality from manufacturers. Those increases only underscore the importance of making smart changes to your fleet maintenance operation that will give you savings in your budget and in other related areas of the company.
The key, however, is to find actionable, hard-data points on which to base your decisions. Otherwise, you’re essentially guessing about which measures you can take to reduce costs both in your maintenance regime and in other parts of your budget which are affected by maintenance. Our solutions for fleet maintenance can help you harness the data and scheduling abilities you need to have that kind of business intelligence, but you still have to know what data points reflect your real-world costs.
A Holistic View of Fleet Operations
Part of that battle can be won simply by looking at your full vehicle lifecycles in the right way. Resale value isn’t the only way of minimizing lifetime costs; nor is fuel-efficiency or maintenance. Every aspect of fleet management is part of a continuous whole, and certain measures can have a domino-effect to other aspects. Therefore, every aspect of your entire process matters to your bottom line.
Maintenance isn’t a separate part of fleet management; it’s part of many varying costs and savings that are experienced in your entire fleet operation, which extends from procurement through sale of your existing vehicles. In fact improperly managed assets will lead to higher costs later on, as Santa Barbara County is currently seeing with their ballooning maintenance costs related to their aging helicopter fleet.
Developing relationships and communication with suppliers is an industry-wide issue that’s still essential to a manageable inventory that doesn’t bottleneck your maintenance efforts or tie up too much working capital.
To have that good communication, though, you need to have an accurate picture of your inventory demand, which means knowing what your maintenance outlook is a month, two months or even a year from now. If you don’t have that outlook, rush orders and bloated inventory is a ghost cost to your maintenance operation.
Complete Downtime Costs
There is more to your downtime costs than vehicles remaining idle; it’s the extra fleet capacity you have to maintain in order to meet minimum service levels for the portion of your fleet that is off the road. Unnecessary delays in repairs can ripple in from inventory problems, corrective repairs resulting from poor preventive maintenance schedules and even personnel shortages.
If you don’t have enough technicians to service your fleet, your average downtimes will start to grow, and your lost road-time per vehicle can become a mounting problem. Finding and retaining those skilled personnel is therefore essential to minimizing your overall maintenance cost, including the secondary costs that ripple throughout your company.
Maintaining Your Holistic View
Locating the biggest cost-drivers in your fleet maintenance program is going to require that you look in other departments, silos of operational authority that may not necessarily be the fleet manager’s purview. Your board needs to know your personnel needs and understand the cost of being understaffed. Your vendors should know the impact that shortages are having on your teams’ ability to function, and your preventive scheduling should have the end goal of smoothing out unplanned downtime and moving your KPIs in the right direction.
If you can get the correct stakeholders onboard with your holistic view, understanding how their operations impact the fleet lifecycles and costs, you’re much more likely to generate the kind of whole-company consciousness of maintenance issues that it takes to really drive costs low.