Unfortunately, downtime is inevitable for all service fleet organisations. Even those with the most well-managed maintenance programs can fall victim to breakdowns and collisions, which leads to additional costs when drivers are unable to perform their daily tasks.
According to a survey by Verizon Connect, downtime as a result of traffic accidents causes small and medium-sized fleets to lose the equivalent of five working days every year, as well as a £6,000 repair bill. This is a particular concern for smaller businesses, as competition is increasing and margins are tight. Another concern is that a customer could turn to a rival company whilst your vehicle is out of service.
In this article, we’ll outline the best ways to prevent vehicle downtime.
Preventative maintenance programmes
Even the smallest of changes can make a big financial difference to your business, and preventative planning and maintenance can help to avoid the costs of vehicle downtime.
Preventative maintenance is based on a number of factors, such as engine hours, mileage and amount of fuel used. The plan you produce for your business should incorporate actions such as parts replacement, vehicle inspection, testing, cleaning and any other day-to-day maintenance tasks.
Having a programme in place for preventative maintenance means you can reduce the long-term costs of downtime by extending the usability of your vehicles. It also helps to ensure your vehicles are safe to drive.
In order to carry out a full preventative maintenance programme, consider the following steps:
- Collate a list of all preventative maintenance activities to be performed, such as changing oil, checking for fluid leaks, inspecting electrical components and tyre inspections.
- Decide how frequently to perform maintenance checks
- Provide a process for drivers to submit their findings from inspections
- Provide a process for drivers to submit complaints, for example breakdown issues or signs of an imminent problem
- Ensure that there is an automotive facility on site where inspections, repairs and maintenance can take place
- Appoint a staff of technicians who are qualified to perform maintenance tasks and repairs
- Ensure you have an efficient method for keeping records, preferably in the form of software to keep all information in one place
- Iron out a process for maintaining spare parts and ordering new ones
As well as ensuring routine maintenance is carried out regularly, there are other efficient ways to prevent vehicle downtime, namely by using a telematics solution.
Telematics and real-time data
Telematics solutions are best-known for their ability to monitor vehicle location and driver behaviour. However, many modern tracking devices can also report on vehicle performance and potential breakdown risks or safety hazards in real time, making them invaluable when it comes to preventative maintenance. They also help to save time by bringing your attention to problems before they cause vehicle downtime.
Telematics systems can report warnings such as tyre pressure, oil levels and other factors that could contribute to vehicle downtime and even traffic accidents. The real-time data helps to eliminate any downtime spent troubleshooting, as alerts can be sent directly to fleet operators, so they’re able to make adjustments as quickly as possible. This is more reliable than having a process for drivers to submit reports, as it removes potential for human error, and drivers might not always report problems with the vehicles they drive.
By collecting data on your fleet vehicles (e.g. mileage, actual downtime etc.) you can predict any recurring issues and take the necessary actions, whether that’s repairing vehicles or investigating driver behaviour.
In some cases, telematics performance data can help you determine whether a specific vehicle is profitable, or whether it should be replaced. The data can also be used to understand the correlation between driver behaviour and downtime risk factors. You can use the findings from this analysis to optimise your routine maintenance programmes and ensure drivers are aware of how improper driving behaviours can impact downtime risk.
Download our telematics guide
Want to know more about how a high quality telematics system could benefit your fleet? Download our guide for exclusive insights and information.