The service, maintenance and repair (SMR) costs of your equipment, machinery and vehicles can have a significant impact on the profitability of your business. How many times have you had a breakdown that has ended up losing you a day’s work and annoyed your customer? These hidden costs are usually ignored when looking at your fleet management costs but they have a significant impact on the profitability of your business.
1 – Importance of maintenance
The best run businesses take a proactive approach to completing routine, scheduled and daily checks of their fleet. These preventative measures ensure that minor issues are found before they become major expensive issues.
Preventative maintenance methods lower fleet costs and increase fleet reliability and safety. This increases the profitability of your business in the short and long term. Fleet maintenance is critical in reducing the time lost due to unscheduled breakdown issues.
2 - Unscheduled maintenance and scheduled maintenance
Unscheduled maintenance is expensive and unwanted, as it leads to higher costs and significant downtime. This may result in lost man-days and damage to your business reputation. Unscheduled maintenance is usually preventable, starting as a minor issue that has been missed before turning into a bigger issue that costs time and money.
Scheduled maintenance on the other hand is a proactive form of preventative maintenance which will save your business time and money. Daily spot checks and scheduled maintenance at regular intervals identify minor issues prior to them becoming major issues.
3 – Create a scheduled maintenance program
Implementing a regular fleet maintenance program is the best way to reduce fleet costs. Maintenance should be scheduled based on mileage or usage. Getting operators to record vehicle mileage weekly, for example, is a simple way of identifying when a scheduled maintenance check is required.
However, there is little point, for example, doing a monthly check on a vehicle that has sat in the depot for 10 weeks as the chances of an issue occurring are very low. There is however much to be gained from implementing a robust fleet maintenance program for a vehicle that travels long distances or on rough terrain.
A simple way of creating a scheduled fleet maintenance system is to firstly choose the maintenance intervals per vehicle/machine category. For example, a dumper may need a maintenance check-up every 1,000 hours while a delivery truck may need a maintenance check-up every 10,000km. Drivers and operators should be asked to record mileage/hours and that information should be passed on to the maintenance manager. The maintenance manager can then schedule in the maintenance for a time that suits business operations.
4 – Get everyone involved
Getting buy-in from the whole company is the best way to implement a robust maintenance schedule. The importance of the getting drivers/operators to record mileage/hour data and to highlight minor issues that they have identified is crucial. This will lead to issues being picked up earlier which will result in less unscheduled maintenance issues and in-turn reduce expenses.
Highlighting that it is in the driver’s/operator’s interest to raise issues that they have identified and record mileage/hours data is also crucial. As it will lead to less blame being attributed to them in the event of a major issue occurring on their watch.
5 – Keep records
You can never have enough data!! Keeping records is the most efficient way of saving your business money due to maintenance issues. Keeping maintenance records where issues fixed are identified and recorded, for example, can lead to an increase in cost savings.
For example, the trailer jockey wheel across all the trailers in your fleet may be getting damaged regularly without being recorded. Once this is recorded, it will become apparent that a lot of jockey wheels are being damaged and fixed across the business. An investigation can look into the issue. The issue may be as simple as the jockey wheel loosens during transit and falls down onto the road where it becomes damaged. This can be fixed by buying a different type of jockey wheel that has a locking system designed to stop the jockey wheel from loosening during transit. Small company wide improvements like this can save your company money over the short and long term.