This is the third installment in our ongoing series on how the coronavirus has impacted the trucking industry and what small- and mid-sized fleets need to do to respond to those challenges. Fleet Management in the Time of Coronavirus is forcing us to focus on the critical elements that make up the foundations of our business: Human Resources, Supply Chain, Financing, Critical Assets, and Industry Connections. This article examines the impact on fleet maintenance and what we can do to stay on track when it comes to taking care of critical assets.
How has COVID-19 disrupted fleet maintenance and what do you need to do to respond? There isn’t a segment of the industry that hasn’t been affected by the pandemic. From drivers to technicians to support staff, it has impacted everyone. But beyond in-house team members, we need to remember the impact that it is having on service providers like towing services, mobile mechanics, dealerships, and repair shops. We need to think about how to do things that take care of them as they take care of us.
The current state of things has everyone off balance. Those of us who are hauling consumable goods might be stretched thin trying to keep up with demand while many more fleets are wrestling with economic disruptions and significantly lower rates. This isn’t just a departure from the norm for management teams, it affects everyone. That means you’ll need to have a plan in place to make sure that everyone is doing everything they can to help the team navigate these rough waters. Now more than ever, how we communicate and what we communicate will be key to successful outcomes.
Maintain Critical Assets to Stay Ready Throughout the Disruption
One of our favorite sayings at FleetPal is: “Those that ‘stay ready’ don’t need to ‘get ready’”. The relaxing of certain federal regulations hasn’t reduced the importance of staying on top of everything that goes into making sure that our drivers and our vehicles are safe and efficient when they hit the road. If anything, it has made it even more important for fleet maintenance professionals to have a plan in place and the discipline to stick to it.
It’s important that we think of everyone that we involve in the maintenance process as part of our team as we develop our plans and procedures for the new normal. Taking care of workers at the repair shop, dealership, or truck stop isn’t just the right thing to do, it’s smart business. It’s the best way to make sure that they’re there for you when you need them. Of course, you should expect that these partners treat you and your team with the same consideration.
Commercial Carrier Journal has pointed out the importance of communication, documentation, safety, and maintenance to staying organized during a global crisis. Trucknews.com has documented steps that you can take to implement Covid-19 protocols for maintenance operations in-house, mobile, and through dealerships.
We want to look at the ways that FleetPal Connect can help to manage routine maintenance and inspections, track issues, and deal with emergency breakdowns in a single tool that connects every member of your team. The best part is that it integrates with your telematics and records information using VMRS codes. Whether the job is routine or emergency and whether the team is in-house or third-party, FleetPal Connect keeps everyone on the same page.
Maintenance and Inspections
Even if your fleet has parked some units due to a disruption in your normal workload, you still need to make sure that all of your critical assets ‘stay ready’. FleetPal Connect allows Fleet Maintenance Managers to build custom inspection templates to make sure that critical preventive maintenance doesn’t slip through the cracks as your team gets used to a new normal. This might mean scheduling bi-weekly check-ins for a parked unit or it might mean accounting for changes that have come about as a result of working with new clients or running new routes. Whatever it is, the easy-to-use VMRS Code building blocks of the FleetPal system will help you make sure it gets done, on time and on budget.
Before the tractors, trailers, and other critical assets in your fleet can ‘stay ready’ they need to ‘get ready’. If there are issues that need attention, now is a great time to address them. Every time a technician or driver observes an issue during a pre-trip inspection or routine maintenance evaluation, that issue gets communicated to the whole team through FleetPal Connect. There’s an old saying that ‘knowing is half the battle’ and with the FleetPal issue tracker, you’ll always know what your equipment needs to ‘get ready’ and ‘stay ready’.
Many fleets have some or all of their support staff working from home to comply with social distancing orders. That can make internal communications even more challenging, especially when it comes to dealing with an issue like a roadside breakdown. When your team uses FleetPal Connect, you’ll be in direct contact with a nationwide network of service providers who can respond with roadside repairs, towing, and everything else you need to get your driver back on the road. That same network of service providers helps to make sure that your team members have a safe, clean, healthy place to stop when they need fuel, food, or parking.
The Rules Have Changed but the Game Remains the Same
The Covid-19 outbreak has introduced a number of challenges for Fleet Managers who are responsible for taking care of a small- or mid-sized fleet. Keeping everyone on your team and in your network healthy means wearing PPE, disinfecting high-touch areas, and social distancing as much as possible whenever possible. Keeping your people working and your equipment rolling means you have to be flexible as demands change and agile as opportunities present themselves. But at the end of the day, we all still have to get the job done for our customers and keep America rolling.
FleetPal Connect uses cloud-based software and mobile applications to make it easy for your whole team to work together from wherever they are. Make us a part of your team and instant access to the tools they need and hundreds of partners that represent the industry’s best. Contact us today to see how we can help.