A fleet that runs efficiently is a necessity—but first, it’s necessary that your fleet vehicles actually run. Vehicle downtime is a major problem for fleets since often the company’s success hinges on the ability of drivers to get from one place to another, whether to complete service jobs or make deliveries. When drivers can’t complete jobs because crucial vehicles are out of service, the result is a loss of productivity and revenue. Fleet management software can help you avoid some of the most common causes of vehicle downtime.
1. Keep up with fleet vehicle maintenance
Fleet management software is one of the major tools you can use to prevent unnecessary vehicle downtime. This type of software comes with many capabilities that help keep your fleet running. Regular vehicle maintenance and preventative care measures are crucial because they address problems before they even begin and help you avoid breakdowns that could result in downtime. A fleet management solution allows you to keep track of your vehicles and schedule automated maintenance reminders that are unique to each truck.
Drivers might also notice on their own that a vehicle needs maintenance since they’re the ones driving, after all. After a certain time, it’s easy to tell when something does not feel “right” with your car. Maybe the engine is shaking during startup or the brakes are starting to scrape. If vehicle maintenance software offers drivers the ability to submit electronic forms, they can add to the database of vehicle maintenance data. Fleet managers must take this data seriously and trust when their drivers say something is wrong, even if the car should be fine according to its maintenance schedule.
2. Replace fleet vehicles when they reach too many miles
Once they hit a certain mileage, fleet vehicles might be at the point where they need a lot of maintenance. Sometimes, it’s just time to say goodbye to a vehicle after its many miles of service. The cost of replacing the vehicle is always an incentive to hang onto an old truck or car. However, you can try to avoid this by leasing your vehicles so they are easy to resell when necessary and replacements are not too costly. Any revenue you put into a new vehicle may very well be outweighed by the cost of constant repairs and missing jobs because of downtime. Like your regular maintenance schedule, a schedule of when to retire vehicles is best be stored in an electronic fleet management database so you don’t lose track of anything.
3. When fleet vehicles do need emergency maintenance and repairs, be prepared
Though regular maintenance and replacement of vehicles can help prevent a situation where a car breaks down and needs an emergency repair, breakdowns and accidents do happen. When they happen, you should be ready. Keep spare parts for your vehicles in stock, or partner with vendors that you know will. The ideal vendors not only carry your parts but are efficient and are available outside of your working hours. That way, the bulk of the repairs can occur when you don’t need your vehicles, so the downtime won’t cut into your fleet drivers’ schedules.
4. Make sure you’re using the right vehicles for each job
If a truck can’t handle a load of a certain size, it can end up breaking down. Therefore, it’s important that you and your drivers always use the right vehicle for the job. Using the wrong size vehicle is a common error that occurs as a result of lack of fleet documentation. A fleet management software database of all your vehicles and their capabilities can help you keep track and match them to appropriate jobs.
5. Encourage safe driving to avoid accidents
Downtime can be a result of accidents rather than any mechanical issues. Not all accidents are preventable as other drivers on the road may be totally at fault. However, if your fleet drivers don’t practice safe driving, accidents will be far more likely. You can’t control every variable on the road, but you can control your own drivers and make sure they aren’t engaging in speeding, harsh acceleration, or other aggressive driving behaviors.
Encouraging good driving habits is the first step towards avoiding accidents, but in order for this effort to be successful, the next step is monitoring your drivers’ behaviors to make sure safe driving rules are being followed on a regular basis with fleet tracking software.
Ultimately, the key to avoiding downtime is keeping track of your vehicles, your vehicles’ maintenance and limitations, and your drivers. The solution involves a combined effort of your human assets and technology assets. You and your workers need to be conscious of how they are driving and in tune with the vehicles. However, the use of fleet management software enhances those efforts for forward-thinking fleet managers.