Businesses of every size rely on fleet vehicles to conduct business. Whether they’re large semi-trucks or boats that deliver goods, buses and taxis that transport people, or farming equipment that harvests crops, the condition of fleet vehicles greatly impacts the bottom line. Without the right technology in place, fleet maintenance is challenging. This article provides an overview of fleet maintenance management and how it is made easier with computerized maintenance management system (CMMS) software.
What is Fleet Maintenance Management?
Before launching into a discussion about fleet maintenance management, let’s first examine the broader scope of fleet management. Fleet management consists of actions taken to remove or minimize risks associated with fleet vehicle investment, improve efficiency and productivity, and reduce overall transportation costs. In general, any activity that relates to the value or use of vehicles can be considered fleet management. These activities include managing:
- Vehicle acquisition, sales, leasing and financing, and remarketing
- Maintenance and repair
- Fuel consumption and fuel costs
- Vehicle titles, licenses, and registration
- Electronic Logging Device (ELD) and Hours of Service (HOS) compliance
- Insurance and protection
- Driver safety and retention
- Fleet data collected through telematics systems
- Dispatching and route optimization
Fleet maintenance management is the process of maintaining and repairing vehicles in order to maximize availability, improve performance, and minimize costs. While the primary goal of fleet maintenance is to improve the effectiveness and safety of vehicles, it also has far-reaching effects in other aspects of fleet management. For example, well-maintained vehicles use fuel more efficiently, thereby reducing fuel consumption and costs.
Learn more about the benefits of using CMMS for fleet maintenance management
Importance of Fleet Maintenance Management
Today’s fleet management organizations face many challenges, including an increased focus on driver safety, the digitization of vehicles, fuel price volatility, and tightening regulatory requirements. Meeting these challenges requires
Keeping Drivers (and Others) Safe
A properly maintained vehicle is safer for drivers as well as others with whom they share the road. Drivers feel more comfortable and confident knowing their vehicle has been inspected and will work predictably (barring any unexpected events).
A well-thought-out fleet maintenance schedule reduces the likelihood of breakdowns and accidents. Many common causes of vehicle crashes, such as blown tires, can be prevented through proper fleet maintenance.
Fleet maintenance also helps organizations comply with regulatory requirements from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and U.S. Department of Transportation related to pollution, greenhouse gas emissions, and air quality among other safety issues. These standards help ensure a safe and clean environment for current and future generations.
Lowering Operational Costs
When vehicles aren’t on the road, the organization isn’t making money. Vehicles that experience downtime due to unscheduled repairs, emergency service, or accidents cannot service the organization. This leads to the risk of late deliveries and tarnishes the reputation of the business. Frequent, unplanned maintenance issues also affect the longevity of vehicles, which may require them to be replaced sooner than expected.
Scheduled maintenance activities reduce operational costs by helping organizations avoid more costly repairs. Regular preventive maintenance (PM) is much easier to carry out, cheaper in the long run, and can help catch small issues before they evolve into more serious problems. Further, well-maintained vehicles will have a longer life span, spend more time on the road, and increase fuel economy.
In addition, vehicles that undergo regular maintenance have a better chance of getting good results and safety approvals following inspections and testing, shielding the organization from compliance issues.
Any number of variables can affect the bottom line, but many of them lead back to the quality of fleet maintenance. Managing a fleet of reliable, well-looked-after vehicles helps you maximize productivity and profitability.
Organizations that deliver goods on time and dispatch service quickly, while keeping their employees and others safe, build better reputations and trust with their business partners and consumers. Maximal operations combined with lowered operational costs leads to higher profit overall.
What Industries Practice Fleet Maintenance Management?
Any organization that relies on vehicles to do business engages in some sort of fleet maintenance management. Examples include:
- Trucking companies
- Car rental services
- Construction companies
- Specialty vehicle and equipment contractors
- Home repair and maintenance service providers
- Government and public works
- Mining and natural resources harvesters
Fleet Maintenance Management Roles and Responsibilities
There are many stakeholders who contribute to successful fleet maintenance: fleet managers, drivers, and maintenance technicians/mechanics.
Among their many responsibilities, fleet managers are responsible for developing maintenance plans for fleet vehicles such as trucks, boats, and buses. Each type of vehicle requires unique maintenance tasks on specific schedules. The maintenance plan must also be flexible to account for maintenance needs discovered by drivers, through telematics systems, or through other planned maintenance activities.
Because drivers spend most of their time in the vehicle, they are the most familiar with how it should function. They are best equipped to notify the fleet manager or maintenance team of any abnormalities, warnings, or signs of wear. Drivers also assist with identifying maintenance needs by performing frequent visual inspections and reporting any issues they discover. If not done automatically, drivers may record mileage for runtime-based preventive maintenance.
The most prominent role in fleet maintenance management is of course, the fleet mechanic or maintenance technician. People in this role are responsible for performing repairs and maintenance on fleet vehicles.
Mechanics may be internal or external to the organization. Larger organizations may benefit from having one or more dedicated fleet maintenance personnel on staff. On the other hand, fleet maintenance functions may be outsourced to another organization that specializes in fleet maintenance or the maintenance of certain vehicle types or manufacturers.
Fleet Maintenance Management Software
Computerized maintenance management system (CMMS) software is one tool fleet maintenance organizations use to manage fleet maintenance. Using CMMS for fleet maintenance management provides many benefits.
Improve Maintenance Planning and Scheduling
CMMS software stores critical information about vehicle assets, including their related parts and maintenance tasks. With all information together in a single platform, fleet managers can easily view what assets are available for maintenance, which required parts are in stock, and who is qualified to perform the job. Technicians also have access to maintenance history to troubleshoot non-standard maintenance issues.
Scheduling functionality allows you to view upcoming maintenance activities, and decide when work should be done and who will do it. Many systems allow maintenance to be scheduled based on calendar date, runtime (or mileage), or a combination of both.
Streamline Preventive Maintenance Procedures
CMMS software for fleet maintenance management allows for the creation of reusable preventive maintenance (PM) work order templates. These templates allow you to enter the work order details once, and automatically generate future work orders complete with all relevant information. This is especially helpful when creating work orders for recurring maintenance tasks such as inspections.
Reusable tasks also make it easy to create and update maintenance procedures. Providing technicians with step-by-step instructions for performing fleet maintenance ensures that work is performed the same way each time, no matter who is doing it. If changes are needed, updates can be made once and applied system-wide.
Simplify Spare Parts Management
Effective MRO inventory management is a key element of a cost effective fleet maintenance program. A CMMS automates inventory counts, helping fleet managers forecast demand and ensure parts are in stock when needed. The system also stores information about parts suppliers and service providers, making it quick and easy to reorder parts when needed.
Track Employee Qualifications
CMMS software tracks valuable data about your biggest assets – your people! Fleet managers can track auto mechanic certification levels, ensuring that technicians are qualified to perform required maintenance work. In addition, organizations can store employee pay rate information, useful when billing clients for fleet management services.
Quickly Access Maintenance Documentation
Vehicles are complex machinery. Being able to access owner’s manuals and maintenance documentation is a boon to mechanics. A CMMS allows you to create a digital maintenance library containing quick access to important maintenance and safety documentation. In addition, technicians are able to add images and videos to supplement text-based work order or asset documentation.
Make Better Repair vs. Replace Decisions
Fleet maintenance software such as a CMMS system helps fleet managers gain visibility into vehicle condition operations through data analysis and reporting. The software leverages comprehensive data on assets to generate maintenance reports that allow you to assess vehicle condition, justify replacement, or modify the maintenance schedule.
Keep Vehicles Ready for the Road with FTMaintenance Select
Proper fleet maintenance management is necessary for any organization that relies on vehicles, from a small business with a handful of delivery vehicles to large corporations that maintain an entire fleet. CMMS software like FTMaintenance Select is an essential tool for tracking, documenting, and managing fleet maintenance. Schedule a demo today to learn more about how FTMaintenance Select makes fleet maintenance more efficient and effective.