Fleet maintenance isn’t necessarily a fleet manager’s favorite topic. However, it’s something that can make or break your profitability and success. And if you’re serious about getting ahead, having good preventive maintenance strategies is a must.
The What and Why of Preventive Maintenance
Preventive maintenance is basically the regular and routine maintenance of different company-owned assets and equipment in order to keep them running and avoid costly, unplanned downtime that results from failure.
“A successful maintenance strategy requires planning and scheduling maintenance of equipment before a problem occurs,” TWI explains. “A good preventive maintenance plan also involves keeping records of past inspections and the servicing of equipment.”
To put it another way, preventive maintenance is designed to anticipate and prevent breakdowns and prevent age-related failure (or at least prolong it as much as possible).
While the specific advantages of preventive maintenance depend on the piece of equipment or assets in question, the business typically benefits from things like improved reliability, longer life of equipment, fewer costly repairs, less downtime, fewer operational errors, and lower health and safety risks.
At the same time, preventive maintenance does have some direct and indirect costs. In many cases, it’s actually more expensive initially. That’s because you have to invest in software, reorient your processes, train your staff, and bring in additional resources. Along these same lines, it can be fairly time-consuming to get a preventive maintenance strategy up and running.
The key is to get your preventive maintenance right from the start. Don’t just haphazardly start applying random techniques – you need an actual strategy.
3 Tips for Better Preventive Maintenance
As you think about developing your preventive maintenance strategy, here are several tips and factors to consider:
Good preventive maintenance starts with having predictable and logical scheduling that’s based on both historic data and real-time trends. It’s extremely important, whether you’re running a manufacturing plant or you’re the fleet manager for a delivery company. Let’s use the latter to create an illustration.
You could argue that there are few issues more costly to a fleet manager than unscheduled vehicle downtime. Not only are there the direct costs of diagnosing and making a repair, but you also have to account for the unplanned absence of the vehicle. This can impact delivery times, customer satisfaction, return rates, etc. By creating a schedule for maintenance, you prevent problems before they arise. This significantly reduces downtime and allows you to fit maintenance into convenient pockets on your schedule.
That’s just one example, but hopefully it gives you an idea of why scheduling plays such a vital role in effective preventive maintenance strategies.
Automate With Fleet Maintenance Software
Okay, you’re probably thinking something like, Great! But how do I create a schedule like that?
Truth be told, it’s very difficult to create your own fleet maintenance schedule manually. There are simply too many variables in play (especially once you have dozens, hundreds, or even thousands of vehicles in your fleet). The solution is automating with fleet maintenance software.
Fleet maintenance software has built-in features that make it easy to implement preventive maintenance scheduling to keep assets both safe and compliant, while equipping your technicians with standard safety procedures at the actual asset level. This is a huge advantage that allows you to stay ahead of maintenance without significantly increasing your overhead.
Don’t forget about your technicians. Good communication between you and your techs will alleviate a lot of the pressure associated with maintenance. Give them some say in scheduling and make sure they can provide feedback on what they’re seeing in the garage. Sometimes it’s hard to quantify maintenance issues with data. In these cases, being able to pick up the phone and chat with your techs is a life-saver.
Putting it All Together
Preventive maintenance is a lot like climbing a steep mountain to see a sunrise. On the way up, it’s dark, cold, and the terrain is challenging. At points along the way, you think to yourself, why am I even doing this? But then, once you get to the top of the mountain, it clears out, the sun starts to rise, and you’re able to relax. It’s smooth sailing from there.
Initially, pivoting to a preventive maintenance approach requires more time, money, and effort. But once you get your strategy in place, you realize just how beneficial it truly is. This makes the investment worth it in the end.