Tips for managing fleet maintenance
While it would be nice if commercial fleets could operate year-round without fault, that isn’t the core goal for experienced fleet operators. Instead, what’s useful is to understand the range of challenges your fleet is likely to encounter, and either take precautions to avoid them or prepare suitable countermeasures that can be used reactively to minimise downtime.
In this article, we’re going to dive into the topic of managing fleet maintenance; what is it? How can you optimise your operation? And what should you look out for?
What is fleet maintenance management?
Fleet maintenance management describes the process of proactively and reactively resolving issues facing a commercial fleet, with a view to keeping vehicles operational. There are many reasons why this is important, including that:
- Having more vehicles available for use could enable you to take on more contracts.
- Driver safety is drastically improved by a proper fleet maintenance protocol.
- Well maintained fleets may prove less expensive to run in the long term, given they’re less likely to incur severe damage.
The person responsible for maintaining a fleet can vary from business to business. For larger companies, a senior role is normally allocated to overseeing this entire process. Most companies either build in-house teams to handle key aspects of the maintenance process or look to outsource specific services such as tyre repairs or MOT checks to external providers.
Overall, there are a range of different skills needed to maintain a fleet. Software innovations play a huge role in this dynamic industry, and so developers may be needed to code and improve systems, while logistics is obviously key – not to mention the practical skills needed to actually conduct routine maintenance work on expensive, complex LGVs.
Best practice fleet maintenance management
With this complexity in mind, here are our maintenance tips that we feel could really make a difference to operators.
1. Document the ‘what’, ‘when’, and ‘how’ of fleet maintenance
It’s not only important, but a requirement of every fleet operation that you are able to resolve technical issues when they arise. A more effective approach to maintenance, however, could be to document virtually every issue that your vehicles are likely to face, as well as how to resolve them.
Lean on the internal expertise in your business to get a full picture of what is likely to go wrong with your vehicles. From more standard issues such as tyre punctures or diminishing tread depth, to the rarer, more expensive issues such as a vehicle totalling or a blown head gasket – you only stand to gain by documenting your business’ official approach to these challenges and conferring with your team.
In terms of how best to do this, a simple database of errors including fields such as the contact details of providers that can help, projected costs, and dated, historical records of similar issues could be game changing; improving your ability to react to new issues quickly.
2. Invest in the right fleet maintenance software
For many fleet operators, there is a lot of data to monitor at any one time. It’s useful not only to keep an eye on the maintenance of your vehicles, but also track their routes and mileage. While this could be done with manual methods, it’s often more cost-efficient and practical to invest in a software solution that can help your team focus on the more strategic elements, while automatically collecting data.
At Fuel Card Services, we have developed an answer for this problem. Our fleet services include:
- MileageCount – a system for automatically recording and reporting on your vehicles’ mileage claims. This could remove some of the manual reporting tasks your drivers may be assigned with, meaning less admin work and more vehicle uptime whether you’re operating an owned, leased, or grey fleet.
- Tele-Gence – our smart telematics solution. This fully customisable solution helps cover all key aspects of your fleet operation; monitoring driver performance, fuel cost management, and equipping your vehicles with the right cameras and equipment to improve safety.
- Expert – an online vehicle repair and maintenance portal that can give you access to pre-negotiated maintenance rates at thousands of leading UK garage dealers and independent providers. This solution centralises the billing and cost-analysis process behind every maintenance operation; better equipping your team with the right insights to make strategic decisions.
Having the right technology stack in your business could not only help you save costs, but it could also prove to be an attractive prospect for drivers. Putting driver safety at the heart of your operation is key and combining this with tech that reduces each driver’s admin load could give you an edge over competitors.
3. Build a healthy relationship with your drivers
There’s no shortage of companies that will advocate building strong employee-employer relationships, but have you considered that strengthening relationships with your drivers could have knock-on benefits for vehicle maintenance?
If your drivers are proud of their vehicles, confident that you’re equipping them with the best-in-market technology to do their jobs effectively and feel that they’re able to communicate with you openly and honestly about issues facing their vehicles, then you’re increasing the chances of having issues flagged early on and resolved quickly.
For example, have you considered the potential benefits of equipping your drivers with an easy-to-use fuel finder app that can help speed up their search for a local filling station? Or even speeding up their routine safety checks with a similar type of app?
Making smart choices around improving your operation and sharing your thoughts and priorities with your drivers could help them feel more supported and emotionally invested in your company, which is likely to yield benefits in a variety of ways.
How can Fuel Card Services help?
At Fuel Card Services, we specialise in fleet maintenance and have developed a full suite of tools that you can use to become more cost-effective in your operations.
View our range of fleet services today to see how we can help you, and get in touch with one of our friendly experts for a tailored quote.back