Preventative maintenance (PM) prevents problems before they arise and maximizes your vehicle’s availability and profitability. It allows you to be pro-active in avoiding and reducing vehicle breakdowns - which often seem to happen at the most untimely moments.
Breakdowns are often due to lack of maintenance planning and scheduling. A preventative maintenance program should be part of your fleet management strategy.
Preventative maintenance for your fleet needs to be scheduled and performed at regular intervals; based on time, mileage, or engine hours. If neglected, the vehicle’s life span will be reduced, and unnecessary expense will be added to the cost of your fleet operations.
The lack of maintenance planning and scheduling may also cause safety and legal issues, accidents causing bodily harm, and lawsuits. Proper maintenance of your fleet and the tracking of such will also help prevent litigation from negligence.
Basic tasks of your preventative maintenance program should include visual inspections, lubrication, and replacement of suspect or worn-out parts. Under DOT regulations, you must not only perform these tasks, but also have a procedure in place to document and all track the repairs and maintenance to each unit in your fleet - and be able to present these documents to them upon request.
The goal is to schedule the majority of your maintenance and repairs while your vehicle’s in the shop for regular service, as opposed to performing unscheduled repairs and maintenance that can throw your operation into chaos. Your maintenance program should include:
Driver inspections and notes
A checklist of the tasks performed every time the vehicle is in the shop
A service interval / trigger to control the frequency of maintenance tasks
Driver inspections and note
Involve the driver. Your driver is closest to your fleet and knows the vehicle he drives - and when something isn’t working as it should. It is important that procedures are put in place to enable the driver to communicate and document problems and issues so that they are resolved and not overlooked.
As part of your driver logging policy, a pre-trip inspection form needs to be used to allow the driver a quick list of items to be checked - both for the smooth operation and safety of the vehicle. These need to be signed by the driver.
Service shop checklist
Your service work order should also include an in-depth checklist of items to inspect and maintain every time the vehicle enters the shop. This will allow the service technician to check off each task as it is being completed. Some suggestions for this list include the inspection of fluid levels, cooling system, tires, brakes, drive shafts, CV joints, belts, hoses, and electrical components to name a few.
Teach your staff the importance of performing thorough preventive maintenance. Supply vendors with your service work order and checklist, and insist they use it.
Service intervals and triggers
For each unit (or group of similar units) in your fleet, a list of preventative maintenance tasks and the frequency that these are to be completed needs to be compiled. Check the vehicle owner’s manual for recommended PM intervals. However, these intervals should only be used as a guideline and a worst case scenario. These manufacturer intervals are based upon normal usage, not extensive usage as is most often the case for most fleets.
Putting it all together
If you have over 15 pieces of equipment in your fleet and you are managing your maintenance records with pen and paper or spreadsheets, implementing a manual preventative maintenance system will probably not yield successful results. It will not be consistent, will be difficult to monitor, and often fall by the wayside when the shop gets busy. Without fleet maintenance software, it’s easier for your staff to take short cuts or forget maintenance tasks.
Fleet maintenance software will allow you to easily manage maintenance planning and scheduling. Generate monthly and ad-hoc maintenance reports to provide insight into the true cost of your fleet's maintenance, and help isolate chronic problems before they become serious issues.
Fleet Harmony's cloud-based fleet maintenance software is super easy to use and affordable for all sized fleets: big and small. And because its available over the internet, you have greater access to your equipment maintenance log.