Why you should make the switch from reactive to proactive fleet maintenance

In deciding not to keep up with preventative maintenance, managers find themselves in a state of reactive maintenance: Fixing more costly issues that could have been avoided by adhering to the prevention of issues occurring in the first place.

Man scheduling fleet vehicle for preventive maintenance.

Talk about the impossible task of keeping all your trucks in a row. Whether speaking literally or figuratively, fleet managers have an enormous job, and not the least of which is trying to keep track of every maintenance problem that occurs for every vehicle in the fleet, never mind trying to prevent any of them from happening in the first place.

With all the balls fleet managers juggle on a daily basis: vehicle sales and purchasing, paperwork, scheduled maintenance, driver training, and communication, managing inventory...it’s no wonder fleet vehicles fail. The job of a fleet manager is difficult and stressful and all that reactive maintenance costs your managers time and money.

However, asking a fleet manager to switch to preventative maintenance all on his or her own is also a nearly impossible task, for all the aforementioned reasons and more. This is why fleet managers fail and fleets breakdown; that proverbial between a rock-and-a-hard-place scenario. Shouldn’t there be a better way?

Are you doing preventive maintenance or reactive maintenance?

As it relates to your fleet, preventative maintenance simply means to keep up with and regularly perform maintenance services on your vehicles in order to decrease the odds of it failing in the future.

In deciding not to keep up with preventative maintenance, managers often find themselves in a constant state of reactive maintenance: Fixing larger, more costly issues that could more than likely have been avoided by adhering to the prevention of issues occurring in the first place.

In fact, some of the smallest things can have the biggest impact on your fleet. Even though drivers know that oil changes, tire pressure, and recalls are important to the overall safety of their vehicles, these tasks are often neglected and not communicated to the fleet administrator. He or she has no way of knowing what’s wrong until it’s too late.

In a perfect world, a fleet manager would be able to keep up with the fleet’s preventative maintenance needs without having to depend on the drivers to keep them up-to-date. But we all know the job lacks that kind of time.

That’s why making the switch from reactive to proactive maintenance is so important. Preventative maintenance saves not only wear and tear on your vehicles (and stress on your manager) but also saves you money over time, as unplanned maintenance can cost three to nine times more than scheduled maintenance would.

Top 5 ways to get proactive with your fleet maintenance

  1. Regular Oil Changes. Something as simple as an oil change can prevent the engine from breaking down entirely, leading to potentially dangerous situations and costly repairs. Not only could your drivers find themselves stuck on a highway or tollway in a precarious situation, but they (and you) are also stuck with a serious and very costly engine problem. This is how the seemingly innocuous act of avoiding or postponing a $100 oil change can turn into a $5-$6K engine repair nightmare.

In switching to a proactive maintenance workflow, the work of keeping track of regular oil changes for the fleet can actually solve two problems at once. While the vehicle is in the air at the shop, it can be inspected for small issues and easy fixes that the mechanics can suggest. Fluids and tire pressure can also be adjusted at the same time for engine safety and to prevent blowouts.

  1. Recalls. Proactive maintenance would also involve keeping track of safety recalls involving the fleet, and alerting both the manager and the driver in real-time when they need to be addressed.

  2. Gain Transparency. It’s no secret drivers don’t share all of their vehicle information with their fleet managers. For example, a driver could be filling the vehicle’s tires every day. Not only does this take time away from his job, but he could be unknowingly creating unsafe driving conditions like grinding brakes or misalignment. This could lead to a catastrophic failure putting the vehicle out of commission.

A preventative maintenance program would allow for the fleet manager to be informed of the tire pressure issues ahead of time, thus helping to avoid pricey repairs, vehicle downtime, missed productivity, and any other unexpected costs incurred.

  1. Regional-Specific Issues. Vehicles are susceptible to batteries freezing in colder climates and engine overheating in warmer ones. Preventative maintenance tools can help predict, detect, and prevent these issues from happening specifically in the regions in which they occur.

  2. Industry-Specific Issues. Certain industries are harder on their fleet vehicles than others. Take, for example, the plumbing and construction industries. Whether you use vans or trucks to haul around equipment, all of that weight being carried day in and day out can be particularly wearing on your shocks and struts. With proactive fleet maintenance management, a manager would be able to keep tabs on these issues and any other concerns particular to an industry, preventing costly repairs down the road and keeping drivers safe.

Planning for preventive maintenance

While a manager can certainly keep track of preventative maintenance for an entire fleet on his or her own, it’s going to be a big challenge, especially if they are not able to inspect each vehicle regularly, if not daily.

Mike Albert has been helping fleet managers keep up with not only their fleets but also the demands of the changing times for decades. We are currently using that experience and knowledge to build a new tool and service that will aid your fleet in making the switch from reactive to proactive maintenance and help to solve a lot of your fleet maintenance management pain points. Learn more about AlbertIQ.

To learn more about how we can help your fleet, contact one of our fleet management experts today.

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