A slick operation is integral to the success of any business, especially those that rely on a vehicle fleet. This places a lot of pressure on Fleet Managers, but with a well-executed Fleet Management plan, this need not be a source of stress. In this article, I’ll look at some items all Fleet Managers should add have on their checklist to ensure a smooth fleet operation.
Do you encourage drivers to report faults and fleet maintenance issues?
Nobody spends more time with your fleet vehicles than the drivers themselves. They’re, quite literally, your eyes and ears when it comes to identifying small fleet problems before they become big ones. It’s important, therefore, that you have an open-door policy when it comes to reporting vehicle issues. For instance, in a large courier company, it’s vital that employees feel comfortable reporting faults; a less-than-responsive Fleet Manager will only encourage employees to keep driving when there’s a problem that has the potential to snowball into something bigger, more costly, and potentially dangerous. Likewise, if you manage a lease fleet, make sure that the end-user has a direct line that they can easily access to report faults. In all cases, Fleet Managers should educate drivers on the importance of reporting fleet faults, be it a light on the dash or a strange noise, and to not ignore issues in the hope that they ‘will go away’.
Have you paid attention to manufacturer recalls and service bulletins for your vehicles?
While it’s paramount to keep to your vehicles’ service and VHC schedule, it’s also prudent to keep an eye out for any recalls or other service bulletins issued by the manufacturer. Approved garages will check for these when booking your vehicle in for a service or VHC. Now, this may cause your vehicle’s service to take a bit longer, but please do not be tempted to forgo it to save time. You might save an hour or so on the day of the service, but you might well end up paying for it down the road if a fault occurs. Avoiding these recall jobs when offered can also void your warranty. They’re issued for a reason and responsible Fleet Managers should never ignore them. Consider them as important as a service, in the case of safety-critical ones, perhaps even more so.
Have you established your fleet’s service and VHC intervals?
To optimise their fleet’s efficiency, a Fleet Manager should be aware of (and have access to) their fleet member’s specified service and VHC intervals. This will vary from manufacturer and even between models. Generally, it will be based on time intervals and mileage, whichever racks up first. Always send your vehicles when they become due, and knowing when they’ll be due can help you plan for downtime and cover. With careful planning, you can optimise this in such a way that you can stagger service and VHCs so that you don’t have a lot of vehicles in the workshop at once. This will save on the number of courtesy cars you need and help to keep your fleet operation running smoothly. The ForWare system allows you access to data on this, with full integration between you and your workshops.
Do your fleet drivers frequently check for obvious wear and tear?
Apart from reporting faults, it’s a good idea to encourage your drivers to keep an eye out for part wear on an ongoing basis. Wipers are an obvious one, literally in your drivers’ faces! Similarly, tyre depth and pressure should be monitored on an ongoing basis. In Ireland and the UK, the minimum tyre depth is 1.6mm. Keep on the lookout for obvious signs of wear too. Some fleet drivers drive to put in high mileage every day, so naturally, some vehicles will go through tyres quicker than others. Take this into account when the vehicle is in for a service and the Service Advisor reports that the tyre threads are getting low. Tempting though it is to leave it until the next service, that time you saved on the day could result in further downtime or even an accident down the road. You should also avoid using spurious parts, while they may be cheaper it’s better to stick to the manufacturer’s specifications.
Do you keep tabs on your fleet’s downtime?
For optimum fleet efficiency, Fleet Managers should keep track of vehicle downtime, and the issues causing it. Perhaps they’re preventable, perhaps some vehicle types spend more time in the workshops than others. You should factor in all of this information when it comes to renewing your fleet. You should also use it to see if you can identify anyways it can be improved during the life of a vehicle. Perhaps a particular driver burns through clutches quite frequently, for example. Of course, to do this you’ll need access to reliable, quality data. A system such as ForWare allows you to access all this at the click of a button. For more information on how to reduce your fleet’s downtime, you should check out our article on the subject here.
Is there an adequate supply of parts available for your fleet?
Efficient fleet maintenance planning and optimising downtime can be hindered by a lack of access to a quality supply of parts. It’s critical, therefore, that you are operating a fleet for which parts can easily be obtained. If you use the ForWare service plan system it actually allows you to buy a basket of parts at discount, helping to reduce your fleet’s costs. Parts availability is also something you should take into consideration when it comes to deciding on renewing your fleet. And, again, do not be tempted to use spurious parts if there’s a delay in obtaining manufacturer-approved times; you’ll pay for it with both cash and downtime down the road.
As you can see, there are a lot of different factors that make up a smooth fleet operation. However, it need not be overwhelming. Access to quality data is crucial, and a comprehensive fleet management system such as ForWare can bring this to your fingertips and generally make your life as a Fleet Manager so much easier. It offers full integration with workshop systems and has built-in specs and service intervals for all manufacturers.
If this sounds like something that your fleet could use, contact me today for a free demonstration.