The benefits of preventive and predictive maintenance for fleet safety, productivity, and profitability are proven by decades of data. Despite the convincing evidence, far too many fleets still take a reactive approach to fleet maintenance. Fleet Managers still argue that they’re too buried with the work it takes to put out fires to devote time to getting a handle on the problem and getting ahead of it.
What does an effective fleet maintenance process look like? Fleets that run an effective maintenance program see a drastic reduction in corrective maintenance work. They also get control of a proactive preventive maintenance plan. Monitoring maintenance needs, scheduling work, communication, performance, reporting, and tracking get easier and more efficient.
There is ample proof that the work fleets do to establish an effective maintenance process pays off in higher safety ratings, better company culture, and larger profit margins. If you want to deliver those results for your business, you need to make a plan that will get you there. Read on to learn more about the six steps that you can take to get an effective fleet maintenance process.
What Are the 6 Steps You Should Take for a More Effective Fleet Maintenance Plan?
If you’re doing what you need to do to keep your drivers and trucks on the roads, then you’re already doing most of what you need to do to maintain an effective fleet maintenance process.
Chances are that a few modest changes to how you plan the work and how you manage the results are all that it will take to get your fleet on more solid ground. Fortunately, there are technological tools that can make it easier for you to make those changes.
If you follow the six steps that we outline below, you’ll have your fleet set up for success in no time at all.
Step #1 – Understand Your Fleet’s Specific Challenges
The first step in setting up an effective fleet maintenance process is often the toughest one—but it’s worth doing right because getting it right lays a solid foundation for the rest of the steps.
Take some time to figure out where your current maintenance process is falling short. Are routine inspections falling through the cracks? Is scheduling with your Maintenance Department or your third-party Service Providers causing bottlenecks and delays? Are you overpaying for work on your equipment? Are you losing productivity due to unscheduled repairs or emergency breakdowns?
Once you know where your fleet can do better, you’ll know where to focus your attention when you plan your new more effective fleet maintenance process.
Get To Square One
At the end of the day, the transition to proactive fleet maintenance is all about reducing the amount of corrective maintenance on your to-do list until it reaches zero at the same time you get up to speed with a preventive maintenance program that helps to keep corrective maintenance jobs low or non-existent.
Be realistic about what you’ll have to do to get there and how long it will take. But don’t shy away from taking on the challenges of getting it done as quickly and thoroughly as possible. Consider your budgetary constraints, manpower, and maintenance demands. Make a plan that gets you to where you need to be in 30, 60, or 90 days.
Analyze Your Process
Analysis is an important part of any change that you make to your business’ operations. It should play a role before, during, and after any changes that you make. That’s how you know what needs to be done, whether it’s getting done, and whether doing it made the difference you were hoping to see.
Take Control of Scheduling
Corrective maintenance and emergency repairs force your team to stop working on jobs in progress. They also force your team to balance the right repair with the fastest way to get a unit back on the road. Many times, the solutions that you get from corrective maintenance today are the underlying causes of the breakdowns that you’ll have next week or next month.
That’s what makes getting to square one so important. Once you’re there, you can analyze what it took to get there and what it will take to stay there. Your analysis will help you set processes for scheduling, communication, and workflow that will deliver consistently reliable results.
Better Communication Gets Better Results
Once you start to get an idea of what your maintenance process will need to look like, you’ll know what you need to know about who is involved and where they fit in. But how will you make sure that they know what they need to know once you set the process in motion? Taking time to communicate needs, expectations, progress, and anything else that your team needs to know is time well spent.
Clear communication is the lubricant that will have your fleet maintenance process running like a well-oiled machine.
Step #2 – Make A Plan
You can’t expect a process to stand up to the day-to-day challenges of life in the commercial trucking industry if you don’t map out the way things are supposed to go. Sure, there will always be unexpected bumps in the road that force you and your team to adapt and overcome. But a good plan will account for all but the most unusual situations and help to reduce the frequency of those rare exceptions.
The plan for your effective fleet maintenance process will tell everyone on your team what their role is, what to expect from everyone else, and how to schedule, communicate, and complete work.
Step #3 – Define and Assign Responsibilities
To turn your plan into a process, you’ll need people. Fortunately, you’ve got a team of drivers, maintenance technicians, and office staff that you can turn to when it’s time to put your plan into motion.
Let the members of your team know what their responsibilities are. Go one step further and let them know what everybody else is responsible for. That way, they’ll know how their role impacts the rest of the process and where they can turn for clarification, assistance, or information when they need it.
Step #4 – Identify the Service Provider Partners You’ll Need
Some fleets handle everything in-house and others rely on service providers to take care of everything from routine services to major repairs.
How you work with service providers to get on track with an effective fleet maintenance process will depend on how your fleet uses vendors. But that doesn’t mean that you have to give up control of the process any time you have a project that involves outside help.
Just like the in-house portions of your program, you can take control of outside jobs. To do that you need to be proactive, communicate clearly, schedule work, and define everyone’s role. Make your service providers your partners and treat them as part of the team.
Step #5 – Record, Measure, Manage
Your maintenance process will generate a lot of data that you can use to keep track of how you’re doing and what you can do to get better. If you set up your program so that your team can record data as they execute their part of the process, you’ll get the benefits of that data without adding to the workload.
Use technology to make everyone’s job easier and empower your team to feed into the long-term success of your maintenance process.
Step #6 – Analyze and Adjust
Getting an effective fleet maintenance process will be a process. You shouldn’t expect it to be like flipping on a light switch. You’ll make your plan and get everyone working on the execution of that plan. Doing the work will generate data.
Your job as a Fleet Manager is to monitor the progress of the program and identify areas where you can do better. Tweak your process each time you find a way to do a little bit better. Those little bits will add up to big benefits for your bottom line.
FleetPal is Maintenance Management Software That Makes The Process Work
FleetPal Connect was designed with small- and mid-sized fleets in mind. We built our software solutions to make them customizable to an individual fleet’s specific needs. That includes everything from inspection templates to vendor relations.
If you’re ready to take advantage of the benefits that an effective fleet maintenance process can have for your business, you should give us a few minutes to show you around our software platform. We’ll answer all of your questions and help you build a plan that will get your fleet to where it needs to be.