How to Manage Your Fleet Maintenance Schedule
Part of your responsibility as a fleet owner or manager is the maintenance of your fleet. The more efficiently running your fleet, the more money you save in the long run. How can you make sure you have the best-maintained fleet in your industry? If you ask any successful small fleet manager, they will tell you that it takes an army to ensure the fleet runs the way it should. It takes multiple parts working in tandem to ensure that each vehicle maintains a clean bill of health.
It also doesn’t hurt to have some technological help, too!
What is Fleet Maintenance?
Much like you keep your vehicle regularly serviced, fleet maintenance is the process of keeping up on the routine maintenance schedule of your fleet vehicles. Having an efficient maintenance schedule for your fleet helps keep your drivers safe, your vehicles in the best condition they can be, and on the roadway longer.
As a fleet manager or owner, you may find yourself in a situation where your needs grow due to the more technologically advanced parts and diagnostics of newer vehicles. Overall, maintenance (when unplanned) can take longer and cost more, cutting into your bottom line.
What Types of Fleet Maintenance Exist?
When working with any vehicle, personal or fleet, there are two types of maintenance activities that come up most often – scheduled and unscheduled maintenance. What are the differences between these two types of maintenance? How do you handle them when they arise within your fleet?
- Scheduled fleet maintenance are those planned maintenance checkups for your fleet vehicles, which can help detect and fix minor problems that your vehicle may encounter due to frequent use. Any time you follow a schedule to maintain your vehicles, this is considered scheduled maintenance. Things like setting up oil changes after so many miles, having filters changed, tires rotated, and other preventative maintenance falls into the scheduled fleet maintenance category.
- Unscheduled fleet maintenance is those times when something happens, and you have to get the vehicle in the shop. Anytime you have to get a last-minute appointment to fix something, and it has not been budgeted, this is an unscheduled maintenance expense. Many unscheduled maintenance calls are due to the lack of preventative maintenance, resulting in a more expensive problem presenting itself. Most of the time, expensive repairs can be prevented through routine maintenance.
Formulating a Fleet Management Plan
To ensure you are implementing a successful fleet maintenance schedule, you need to have a plan in place before major problems come up. If you have been getting by with the minimum maintenance “as needed,” you can actually save money by choosing preventative maintenance plans. To help create your plan, ask yourself these questions:
- What should be covered as a part of the preventative maintenance checkup?
- Who will be in charge of the preventative maintenance service?
- When will the preventative maintenance and service take place?
- Will there be a plan in place for unscheduled maintenance?
- What is the plan if something bigger is discovered during the routine maintenance?
Once you think about these questions, what is a way to simplify the process? It may be that implementing a technological solution to help you keep track of everything is needed.
Fleet Management and Maintenance Checklist
There is a difference between a management and a maintenance checklist. With a management checklist, it can be done without the requirement of seeing a mechanic. These are things that you likely require your drivers to do before and after their shifts. That is not the same as the type of maintenance checklist you will want to develop for a mechanic who will care for your fleet.
Every mechanic will have a different idea of what a maintenance checklist should include. That is why it is important to know what you want to be checked when you make a scheduled maintenance check. Most vehicle areas should be done in a specific mileage increment that is determined by the use and the manufacturer of the vehicle.
What Should Be Included on the Maintenance Schedule?
When you are looking to compile a maintenance checklist, there will be things that don’t have to be checked every time you have service done. If you live in an area of the United States where you experience more than one season of weather, you are likely going to have more frequent maintenance checks, especially after each season.
Possible items you might include in a schedule include:
- Oil and filter change
- Transmission fluid
- Cooling system
- Fuel system
- Driveshafts or CV joints
- Engine and transmission mounts
- Belts and hoses
- Electrical system
- Tires, wheels, and rims
- Steering and suspension
- Braking system
- Exhaust system
- Windshield wipers
- Body, glass, and mirrors
- Fluid leaks
- Seatbelts and seat structures
- Auxiliary systems
- Undercarriage and frame
These are not going to be checked at every tune-up, and sometimes it may just be a tune-up to get ready for the upcoming weather.
Types of Preventative Maintenance Intervals
A lot of fleet managers will assign an alphabetical letter to their preventative maintenance schedules. The reason they do this is to keep track of which vehicles are due for what maintenance actions. These can include the above items but at different time intervals.
As an example, let’s take a look at some preventative maintenance schedules:
- Preventative Maintenance A: This interval is for those vehicles that require a general safety check and lubrication for components that need it. Lights may be checked and replaced if necessary, and tire wear is noted. For light-duty fleet vehicles, mileage intervals may run from 1,500 to 2,500 miles. For medium- to heavy-duty vehicles, the interval may increase between 5,000 and 10,000.
- Preventative Maintenance B: Includes the same quality checks as A but includes oil and filter changes. Most mechanics will do a more in-depth inspection of the engine and driveline.
- Preventative Maintenance C: This interval may include things like summarization and winterization of fleet vehicles. It will also include A and B and feature its own unique features for a more in-depth inspection.
As long as you work up a schedule with your mechanic or selected service shop, you can usually help create the maintenance schedules you want for your fleet to follow. It will take more than just you and the mechanic, but your entire fleet of drivers and staff to help ensure that no vehicle slips through the cracks.
The Benefits of Fleet Maintenance Schedules
Fleet management is not an easy task, and trying to stay on top of the maintenance can take up a lot of time that you don’t have. Luckily, when you implement a fleet maintenance schedule, a lot of the guesswork gets taken out of when each of the vehicles will need to be serviced. What makes using maintenance schedules so beneficial for fleet owners?
- Your fleet is safer when it is properly maintained. By using a maintenance schedule, you are offering a higher level of safety for your drivers and for others on the road.
- The better maintained your fleet is, the more reliable it becomes. Without the need to replace the vehicles as often you are making more profit, instead of it cutting into your bottom line.
- Your fleet has to meet compliance with federal, state, and local laws. The FMCSA also requires fleets to undergo inspections. Using a maintenance schedule helps to keep you and your fleet compliant with regulations.
- In the long run, your maintenance costs will be lower. When you do preventative maintenance regularly, you are ensuring that your service professionals catch minor problems before they become larger and more costly ones. A little now makes for a lot less in the long run.
- Encountering problems when driving is stressful for drivers, not to mention the frustration when they don’t make it to their appointments on time. Your drivers should be able to rely on their fleet vehicle, which keeps them satisfied that they are being taken care of.
- Your customers also have a level of expectation when they work with you. They want to know that the representative coming will be there on time. When constant vehicular breakdowns occur, customer satisfaction goes down.
- Lower your fuel cost by keeping your vehicles more efficient. Not only can you save money by scheduling preventative maintenance, but you can also save money with lower fuel costs – overall, you get to save money!
Doesn’t being able to save more money sound appealing? When you have a fleet that operates the way it is supposed to, you gain a better business structure overall, leading to more customers. Everyone in your fleet becomes a part of the effort, which benefits the business as a whole.
Fleet Maintenance: A Team Effort
The maintenance of your fleet shouldn’t be up to any single person to keep track of. Depending on the number of fleet vehicles you have, it could become an overwhelming task to keep up with. So what can you do to make sure that the fleet is in the best shape it can be?
The fleet is your responsibility, and like other responsibilities in life, it can take a village. Your drivers and other staff members can help be responsible for making sure that the maintenance schedules are followed. The vehicle drivers spend a lot of time with their fleet vehicle, so they would know the most about it. If anything is going wrong with the vehicle, they would likely be the first to know.
Keeping communication between drivers, management, and technicians who will be working on the vehicles is a must. Is there a way to help automate the process and keep track of maintenance logs? Technology has changed drastically for the fleet industry. Because of this, there is another approach you can take for your maintenance schedule.
Using Technology to Make Maintenance Schedules Easier
There are many different ways that technology can help you make the most out of your maintenance schedule. You shouldn’t immediately dismiss a technological solution because you don’t think your fleet will benefit from it (or you think it will be too expensive). Have you thought about what a fleet tracking software option could do for you?
Fleet tracking software can help keep track of the mileage for each of the vehicles in your fleet. When you set the maintenance intervals, it will alert you when each vehicle needs the scheduled and preventative maintenance performed. It may even be able to help alert you of mechanical failure before it happens.
So, what else can fleet management software do for you?
What is Fleet Management Software?
Fleet management software is also known better as fleet tracking software. The fleet tracking software uses GPS and the internal computer of the vehicle to gather information. The information is then sent over a mobile network to the owner or manager to review it or get reports. Some management software even includes tips on how to become a more efficient fleet.
There are many different options available for large fleets, small fleets, and even cross-country fleets. The problem is that not all fleets are made the same. What works for a large fleet is not going to be sufficient for a small fleet. Small fleets often don’t have the minimum number of vehicles required to meet the agreement for service through a fleet tracking software company. What if there was a better way to get the information you needed about your fleet without a contractual obligation that you can’t afford as a small fleet owner?
Fleetr Changes Your Fleet’s Maintenance Schedule
Fleetr is designed with you, the small fleet operator, in mind. Unlike larger platforms that require you to commit to a contract and a minimum number of fleet vehicles, Fleetr makes using fleet tracking software affordable. For just $9.99 per month per vehicle, you can not only track your fleet but gain insight on how to save money and be more cost-efficient.
In addition to helping you become more fuel-efficient, Fleetr can also help with keeping you on task with your maintenance schedule. You no longer have to manually keep track of mileage or rely on your drivers to do it for you. Now you will be able to use the Fleetr dashboard to view every vehicle in your fleet and see what vehicles are going to need upcoming maintenance.
How Does Fleetr Work?
The process to start Fleetr is simple. Tell us how many devices you need, make your payment, and we send you the devices. While you wait three to five days to receive them in the mail, you can begin setting up your Fleetr app dashboard. When you get your device, plug them into the OBD II ports of your vehicles and link them to the app. It is that simple to begin tracking your fleet and handling your maintenance schedule.
The pay-as-you-go (monthly) subscription continues each month until you cancel. There is no penalty for terminating your subscription. Just send back your hardware when you are done. Fleetr makes it possible for small fleet owners and managers to take control of their fleet through tracking and management software solutions.
Get insight on what you can do to make your fleet more efficient (like lowering fuel costs) and see what drivers are most efficient and who needs some work. Push notifications even let you know if a driver is driving in a reckless or dangerous way. Fleetr makes sure you are in charge of your fleet.
Why You Need a Maintenance Scheduling Solution
Whether you choose a technology-driven solution for your maintenance scheduling or not, the most important thing for your fleet is organization. When you are organized as a manager, it trickles down into your staff and drivers, making the fleet itself more efficient.
While maintenance is only one of the many factors you will find yourself facing as a fleet operations manager or owner, it likely is one of the most important. Keeping the health of the fleet at the front of your mind and ensuring that it is handled effectively makes your job simpler. The less time you can spend worrying about paperwork behind a desk, the more time you can spend doing the things you love – your business.