Best Practices in Fleet Maintenance

The average fleet owner spends between 5% to 7.5% of OEC (original equipment costs) annually in repairs and maintenance of their fleet. These averages can vary somewhat based on the age of the fleet but represent a fair view of the US commercial fleets. These estimates do not take into account underutilized capacity which lurks in many fleets.

Given that every fleet owner knows “if it ain’t turning; it ain’t earning”, they have a set of business processes around maintenance laid out for their fleet. But in a survey of 32 fleet managers, 89% of them said they were not confident how effectively these processes were being practiced in their fleets. As a result they often found themselves reacting to incidents and not being able to spend enough time planning. Clearly when the day to day is spent chasing the information required to make decisions or reacting to the unplanned, fleet management can feel more like an art than a discipline.

A best practice in fleet management and maintenance is to have a defined standard operating procedure (SOP) when it comes to the operations and maintenance of fleet. This should outline not only the pre-trip (and post-trip) checklists but also a clearly stated scheduled maintenance program. By setting clear expectations for operators and managers, you are ensuring that everyone on the organization has a stake in fleet maintenance. Not only should operators know what is expected of them but should also understand what they can expect from the maintenance teams. The operators should be engaged (and feel responsible) for taking good care of the equipment. Communicating expectations and standards on fleet maintenance across the organization reduces “finger pointing” down the road.

Another best practice is track service needs and tickets at asset level. While data trackers (slap and track devices as well as telematics/ engine modules) have made it easier to track usage; most fleets find their ability to act on that data lacking. Use of technology (including cloud computing and mobile devices) to automatically trigger business rules around maintenance increases productivity. While there is still oversight of managers, the ability to move fast means that not only is the team capable of doing more but also that issues can be rapidly triaged and actioned.

Finally, a best practice that applies to every function is tracking compliance. Remember, what’s measured gets done. It is important to ensure compliance tracking against maintenance tasks. Best in class companies track their upcoming and past due services. Unexpected changes in business plans, availability of people, and sometimes even budgeting issues can create compliance challenges. A good system, while not capable of planning for every eventuality, can ensure that you track your compliance percentage. A 90%+ score will put you in best in class, but again that is a very small cohort.

If there are other practices that you have found useful, do drop us a line.

Best Practices in Fleet Maintenance

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