Six steps to more efficient fleet maintenance

PlantMiner   |   November 11, 2015

Keeping a well-maintained fleet of equipment requires attention to detail and a systemaic approach to maintenance - all of which can benefit from a GPS fleet management system. Potential problems, such as engine malfunctions or bad brakes, can be difficult to spot between regularly scheduled maintenance. Drivers often hesitate to report problems for fear their vehicle will be taken out of service. And tight budgets and limited resources can make it difficult to keep up with preventive maintenance and needed repairs. A fleet tracking system helps you address these challenges and:

  • Eliminate paperwork via online vehicle service tracking and intuitive data maintenance management features.
  • Set proactive reminders for oil changes, tune-ups, and other preventive maintenance activities.
  • Control repair costs and help extend the life of vehicles by automatically tracking all service records, including maintenance performed, date of completion, and the service technician.
  • Monitor automatic engine diagnostic alerts to identify minor problems before they become major ones, helping reduce expensive roadside repairs.
  • Analyse comprehensive service record reports to improve fleet health and lifecycle maintenance management.

You save time and money – including reduced overtime caused by unexpected breakdowns and repairs – while operating your entire fleet more efficiently and safely. We've checked in with the Business Management Magazine for Contractors, Construction Business Owner, and discovered a few tips to overcome common fleet maintenance challenges. 

1. Monitor Engine Diagnostic Alerts

Cost-effective fleet maintenance starts with knowing the operating condition of your vehicles at all times – especially the engine. That’s where a telematics fleet management solution with engine diagnostic capabilities gives you a notable advantage. Not only does the system continually track the health of your engines, it also automatically notifies fleet managers of potential engine problems by sending diagnostic trouble code (DTC) alerts via e-mail. These alerts, which range from cylinder misfires to incorrect air/fuel mixtures and more, provide a precise description of the problem, allowing managers to take appropriate action to get the vehicle functioning properly and back on the road as quickly as possible.

Armed with this kind of engine diagnostic information, managers can determine whether a vehicle needs to be taken off the road for immediate service. This helps prevent roadside breakdowns that can lead to costlier repairs. And technicians don’t have to spend time diagnosing the problem, which helps reduce vehicle downtime.

2. Streamline Maintenance Scheduling

Almost all preventive maintenance procedures are based on a vehicle’s mileage. In many fleets, drivers manually record odometer readings at the fuel pump, which can lead to errors that delay needed maintenance. A fleet tracking system automates this process by calculating mileage based on data from the vehicle’s engine computer, thereby eliminating the need to manually collect the data from the vehicle’s odometer.

The system also provides daily odometer updates, and notifies users by e-mail when vehicles have reached pre-set maintenance intervals. This way, you can establish custom maintenance alert schedules and know precisely when vehicles are due for maintenance based on mileage or other criteria. These alert schedules enable timely regular maintenance and repairs that keep your fleet running efficiently.

3. Reduce Unnecessary Driving

Driving fewer miles puts less wear and tear on vehicles, helping extend their operational life and reduce labor and repair costs. A wireless fleet management system helps reduce both unnecessary and unauthorised driving by routing vehicles more efficiently, tracking their locations, and monitoring off-hours usage. Many systems also come with Garmin connection capabilities, which can further reduce vehicle mileage by providing drivers with accurate directions.

To accomplish these goals, GPS vehicle tracking systems offer a variety of customisable reports that show:

  • The daily start and end location of every vehicle. With this data, you can confidently allow drivers to take their vehicles home at night, knowing you can easily identify any unauthorised use.
  • Vehicle usage outside of normal business hours. Tracking odd-hours can help reduce theft and unauthorised employee use.
  • Vehicles entering or exiting an “off-limits” area. Access to this information helps deter unauthorised trips, such as going home for lunch or running personal errands.

Fleet managers can also use data from the system to verify daily route and stop locations, and analyse driving patterns to help reduce unnecessary vehicle use.

4. Reduce Fleet Idle Times

Excessive idle time is one of the leading causes of fuel waste, with heavy-duty vehicles burning up to one gallon of diesel fuel for each hour they idle1. It also contributes to engine wear and tear, and increases maintenance costs. By monitoring vehicle idle times around the clock you can set thresholds that automatically identify vehicles with excessive idle times. You can also use customisable alert notices and reporting features to acquire the data you need to set goals for reducing idle time and coaching drivers to achieve the desired results.

5. Continuously Monitor Vehicle Emissions

High emission levels often signal deeper problems with a vehicle’s engine. Continuous monitoring of emissions using a diagnostics-based system helps identify engine problems in their early stages rather than waiting for a regular emissions test. This saves the time and expense of performing larger, more complex repairs, and reduces wear and tear on the engine’s emissions control system.

6. Keep An Online Maintenance History

Vehicle tracking systems help eliminate the problem of lost or inaccurate maintenance paperwork by providing a complete online service history of every vehicle in your fleet. You can quickly and easily enter or update service records online. The system provides a number of reports – such as Service Records, Smog Check, and Sensors – that provide the data needed to analyse fleet maintenance problems and identify areas for improvement. Reviewing historic maintenance costs allows you to identify the mechanics and outside service providers that deliver the best service at the best prices. And many systems will even provide automatic vehicle recall notices from manufacturers, allowing you to immediately pull vehicles off the road (if necessary) and schedule the appropriate repairs in a timely manner.

Is your fleet fitted with the latest in GPS monitoring? If so, leave a comment and let us know how it's affected your business. Or better yet, find out how PlantMiner can showcase your GPS capabilities and help utilise your equipment today! Click the button below to learn more. 

PlantMiner (now Felix Vendor Marketplace) is Australia's leading plant, equipment and subcontractor hire marketplace, connecting you with all your construction project hire needs in one place.

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