What is fleet maintenance?
Fleet maintenance is the process of keeping all of your organization’s vehicles in good working order so that they can be used safely and effectively. A good fleet maintenance program will focus on preventive maintenance so that issues never occur during the use of the vehicle.
A fleet maintenance program also serves to lower the costs of repairs. For example, maintaining a vehicle’s engine might be expensive in the short term, but not so expensive as having to replace the entire engine (or the entire vehicle). Just like you shouldn’t neglect to change your personal car’s oil, you shouldn’t neglect your fleet either.
In addition to lower repair costs, performing preventive maintenance on your fleet can reduce operational costs. When your vehicles run at top efficiency, they use less fuel and retain their value (in case they need to be liquidated later). A well maintained vehicle will cost more than a broken-down one in almost all cases.
Finally, fleet maintenance produces better outcomes in vehicle testing and inspections for obvious reasons. The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration is responsible for regulating the safety of trucks across America. Performing regular maintenance on your fleet leaves no room for corrective action from such agencies while making your vehicles safer for your drivers.
Types of fleet maintenance workers
There are three types of fleet maintenance workers: fleet managers, drivers, and fleet mechanics/repair technicians.
Fleet managers oversee their entire fleet, serving as the central hub for the creation of maintenance plans and service scheduling. While drivers may interact with the vehicle on a day-to-day basis, the fleet manager’s responsibility lies in the actual design of the vehicle’s maintenance schedule. Because fleet managers also deal with acquiring new vehicles and selling older ones, they have a vested interest in making sure that their vehicles retain as much value as possible.
The fleet manager has a lot of factors to think about when designing a maintenance program. The average car owner might only think about big ticket items, but every single car part should be important to the fleet manager. This means looking into tire servicing, glass, body, oil, and other fluids.
Drivers spend the most time in the vehicle. While it is critical that drivers perform their job safely, drivers have the equally-important responsibility of daily diagnosis of their vehicle’s condition. They will often be the first person to see warning lights or signs, and as such they should convey this information to their managers as soon as possible. Drivers should also carefully inspect their vehicle so that it successfully meets the Department of Transportation’s minimum requirements.
Depending on the size of the fleet, some organizations may find it worthwhile to invest in a dedicated fleet mechanic. This person is responsible for the regular maintenance of the entire fleet, making it a cost-effective solution for fleets with many similar vehicles. Otherwise, an organization will contract any number of repair technicians who will take care of maintenance and repair work as needed.
Examples of fleet maintenance
One easy example of fleet maintenance is a trucking company. Because cargo trucks often traverse long miles and a large variety of climates, it is imperative that a rock-solid maintenance structure exists so that a truck doesn’t break down in the middle of nowhere.
In a trucking company, the health of a truck has a direct relationship with the profitability of the company; when trucks break down, that means that deadlines are missed, making their customers unhappy and potentially jeopardizing their business.
Another example is any organization that uses company vehicles for its employees. Transporting valuable employees in compromised vehicles is a massive safety risk, so it’s in the best interest of both the company and its employees to have a comprehensive fleet maintenance program. Safety can also be a monetary issue, given that accidents can cost employees and their employers staggering amounts of money. If a faulty car causes an accident, who is to blame?
Organizations that utilize fleet maintenance
Any organization that regularly uses company-owned vehicles utilizes a fleet maintenance program. Some examples include:
- Trucking companies: Maintenance is performed on all trucks, either on-site or at the vehicle’s destination.
- Car rental services: Given the huge variation in customers and driving styles, individualized maintenance is performed on every car in a rental service’s fleet.
- Government vehicles: Maintenance is performed on all general-use vehicles for government workers.
- Farming: Maintenance is performed on all farm equipment (ie. tractors, plows, etc.).