Too Much to Manage: Why Fleet Managers Let Their Vehicles Fail

Some might say fleet managers wear many hats...perhaps too many. Consider some of the tasks they handle on a daily basis:

  • Handling the purchasing of vehicles.
  • Keeping up with paperwork and maintenance.
  • Staying connected to their drivers.
  • Working with inventory management.

This is not to mention the seemingly hundreds of tasks in between that make fleet management a complicated, nonstop occupation.

In addition to all those tasks, the fleet manager is asked to predict the fleets' future. After all, keeping maintenance logs and depending on your drivers to report issues only gets you so far. Drivers are focused on their jobs and the fleet manager is busy with daily tasks. To ask them to also monitor every vehicle for signs of possible breakdowns, accidents or major repairs would be next to impossible.

That's where an advanced driver and vehicle monitoring solution can help. It can lessen the burden placed on managers to analyze fleet data and extract the information necessary to gain insights on where a vehicle is headed, all so you can make appropriate decisions regarding the vehicle before it's too late.

Why Is Analyzing Fleet Data Important?

In an ideal world, your fleet's drivers would work together with your service technicians to keep each vehicle running smoothly. Of course, we all know that's easier said than done, and that's where an innovative driver and vehicle management program can help.

With advanced driver and vehicle monitoring in place, fleet managers will be able to keep any size fleet running optimally, both in day-to-day use and over the long-term life of the vehicle. It does this by being able to predict and prevent vehicle breakdowns, leading to an efficient fleet, increased client satisfaction and more money staying in your pocket.

Acting on Driver and Vehicle Data can prevent:

  • Vehicles suffering avoidable major, costly repairs
  • Increased driver downtime due to breakdowns and major repairs
  • Driver safety issues
  • Shortened vehicle lifecycles
  • Lost vehicle resale value
  • Manufacturer recalls being ignored

Examples of When Driver and Vehicle Monitoring Is Necessary

Ignored check engine lights. Your driver is right in the middle of the busiest day of the week, at the busiest time of the day, running a little behind on their next service call and they see it: That indistinct "check engine" light.

What could it be? Is there a problem with the vehicle's engine or is it something minor, like a loose gas cap? Either way, the truck seems to be running just fine and there is really no time to worry about that now, so on with their work they go.

Flash forward several more days or even weeks and that light still hasn't gone off. The driver has gotten so used to seeing it that they don't even notice it anymore -until, that is, the vehicle won't start. What could have been a quick fix turns into a costly nightmare, resulting in lost work and profits for everyone involved.

Lack of daily vehicle checks. It seems like a simple solution: Why not have fleet managers check on the vehicles every day for alarm lights, tires that look low on air and other maintenance issues? Well, for many reasons, that's just not feasible.

Why? Well, for starters, there's all the aforementioned hats they wear that would make daily vehicle inspections nearly impossible, especially on a medium to a large fleet. And, secondly, many drivers take their vehicles home with them at the end of the day. So, unless your fleet manager makes house calls, doing a daily check is pretty much out of the question.

Inability to keep up with safety recalls and maintenance schedules. At some point, one or more of the vehicles in a fleet will get called in for service for a safety issue. More than likely, the manufacturer asks the vehicle's owner to bring it in ASAP.

What about maintenance schedules? Sure, your drivers receive them, but the data involved in those schedules can be overwhelming and the drivers aren't sure what to do with it. The schedules will also change according to the car's model and age.

And, even though a fleet manager lets the driver know that a safety recall or scheduled maintenance issue is required, there's no guarantee a driver will get it done in a timely manner. The fleet manager may also get bogged down in other tasks and completely forget to follow back up with the driver.

Unable to manage parameters based on vehicle type and location. While a vehicle might be just fine driving around the highways and minor hills of one area, it could struggle when climbing mountains in Tennessee. The car could start overheating or blow a tire if the pressure wasn't kept at a correct level - or worse.

While your driver might be able to get away with the wrong vehicle for the job, wouldn't it be better to know your fleet's parameters and get the right car or truck the first time around?

Introducing driver and vehicle monitoring technology to your fleet could help you avoid these difficult situations by utilizing software that analyzes the data your vehicle collects and then sifts through it to determine what your vehicle needs and when. In doing so, it can discover not only what that check engine light actually meant, but also serves as a way to check in on the vehicles daily, and keep up with all safety issues, recalls, maintenance schedules and more.

Monitoring technology also assists in notifying drivers of concerns by synthesizing all the data collected on a vehicle, then sending an alert to the operator in real time via an app. Such apps typically utilize a ticketing system with red alerts (requiring immediate attention) or yellow alerts (requiring attention soon), so the driver knows if he or she needs to take care of an issue right away or get something on their schedule.

Consider looking into a driver and vehicle monitoring technology next time you receive a red alert from your ticketing system that needs immediate attention. By using such processes for constant fleet monitoring, your fleet manager's workload will not only become more manageable, but it will affect your fleet's bottom line — for the better.

To learn more about available driver and vehicle monitoring options with Mike Albert, contact one of our fleet management experts today.

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