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The Importance Of Proper Truck Fleet Maintenance

Semi tractor trailer truck fleet

Proper trucking fleet maintenance is very important. The average cost of a new truck is between $125,000 and $150,000. Ensuring each truck is properly maintained increases its years of efficient, effective service, boosts its productivity and helps reduce its downtime. Proper and timely truck maintenance services also reduces operational costs and helps to keep the drivers safe. When trucks are properly maintained, fleet owners can more quickly recoup the money they invested in each trucks and helps their company remain profitable for many years.

What Is Proper Truck Fleet Maintenance

Proper truck fleet maintenance is having each truck in your fleet serviced on a regular basis. This can be weekly, monthly or quarterly depending on how the trucks are being used. Basic maintenance includes checking and changing the oil, checking and servicing the brakes, checking the transmission, oil fuel, air, exhaust and cabin air filters and
the electrical system. As part of proper truck maintenance, check all the rubber parts to ensure they are not worn or brittle. It's also important to check all gaskets for signs of wear and leaks and replace them as needed. Checking the shock absorbers is an essential truck maintenance service to ensure it rides smoothly and evenly.

Ensuring Good Performance And Safe Operation

Trucks are rugged, reliable machines designed to run efficiently in tough conditions. Regular maintenance services is critically important to ensure they continue to provide good performance and safe operation. When you neglect the maintenance services trucks need, you compromise their ability to last a long time. Taking each trucks in to have
regularly scheduled servicing done helps you detect and address minor problems and stop them from becoming serious, costly issues that can affect their productivity and their durability.

Daily Monitoring

Truck drivers play an important role in proper truck fleet maintenance. Ideally, they should check the engine oil level and clarity before they start their trucks each day. Drivers should also ensure the brakes are working properly and report all problems to the dispatcher or maintenance manager so the brake shoes, air valves and air dryers can
be serviced in a timely manner if there is a problem. Drivers should be sure to report any cabin air problems, so the maintenance team can make a point to look at the cabin air filter. Reporting blown fuses or lights ensures the electrical system continues to work properly. Proper fleet maintenance takes a team effort.

Reduce Downtime

When any truck in the fleet is forced to take extensive downtime to have vital parts or systems repaired or replaced, it takes money out of the pockets of the driver and the company. Taking a few minutes on a regular basis to check things like shock absorbers can prevent problems that lead to unnecessary downtime and are essential to keep trucks
riding smooth and even. Stocking up key replacement parts can make repairs faster and easier, reduce downtime and keep all the trucks in the fleet up and running. Using high quality oils, fuels and replacement parts can also play an important role in preventing excessive downtime.

A Systematic Approach To Fleet Maintenance

Employing a systematic approach to fleet maintenance can help keep the trucks in your fleet properly serviced, safe, in good condition and prevent unnecessary breakdowns. A systematic approach to proper fleet maintenance and good preventive vehicle maintenance requires thoughtful planning, timely scheduling, in-depth analysis and great execution.
Approaching fleet maintenance systematically and consistently can reduce the risk of a truck experiencing preventable breakdowns and road accidents due to worn tires, faulty brakes, steering and suspension issues and other common problems truckers often face.

Driver Safety

The number one reason for doing proper fleet maintenance is to enhance driver safety. A truck driver is at a higher risk for injury if the trucks they drive are not properly maintained. Truckers often drive on dangerous roads and in inclement weather. If the truck they are in has bad brakes, smooth tires, steering issues or electrical problems,
their health and safety is unnecessarily compromised. Trucking fleet owners who care about their drivers' health and safety will ensure the trucks are in good working order and less likely to suffer a mechanical, braking or electrical system failure or a tire blowout that will put a driver's life, health and safety in jeopardy.

Protecting The Cargo

Another reason to keep your fleet of trucks properly maintained is to protect the cargo they are carrying. Customers depend on the trucking companies they hire to move their goods from one location to another safely and in a timely manner. Part of the fleet owner's responsibility is to make sure that their trucks are always maintained in good working order so they can do just that. Trucking fleet companies that have earned a reputation for always having well-maintained trucks and consistently get the cargo they are hauling to their destination on time and intact improve the chances they will enjoy long-term success, profitability and growth.

Reduced Operational Costs

Proper truck maintenance can play a major role in reducing operational costs and lead to increased profitability. Properly maintained trucks are more likely to avoid the high human health and financial cost associated with preventable road accidents. Plus, timely preventive maintenance costs much less than reactive repairs. According to OSHA, the legal expenses, medical care, lost productivity and property damage as a result of vehicle accidents costs employers more than $60 billion a year. Making sure the trucks in your fleet are properly maintained can reduce the operational costs by thousands of dollars a year.

Proper Maintenance Boosts Productivity

Making sure your entire fleet of trucks is always in good working order can help your company to avoid operational delays and help to maximize productivity. Having trucks go out of service for unscheduled repairs can result in missed deliveries and delays in the fulfillment of several succeeding obligations. Proper fleet maintenance can reduce truck malfunctions and ensure your trucks are always available to take advantage of any business opportunities that pop up. Good fortune favors the prepared and when you make sure your trucks are always prepared to work it can help your company's productivity to increase exponentially.

Improved Efficiency

Proper fleet maintenance leads to improved efficiency in the use of the resources of any trucking fleet. Addressing minor problems before they become bigger ones, that are much more expensive saves you money you can invest in other areas of your company. If you use your company's resources more efficiently, managing your fleet will become much easier and more profitable. Plus, your drivers will be able to make more trips safely and earn a larger salary. Once your company earns a reputation for excellent efficiency it will attract customers and your fleet will be able to easily handle the increased opportunities.

A Vehicle Maintenance Log

Each vehicle in your fleet should have a vehicle maintenance log showing the services and repairs it has received and when. This can make it easier to manage its preventive maintenance schedule and prioritize specific vehicles with issues requiring immediate resolution to keep them running properly. Following a maintenance system like this can
maximize a fleet's profitability and help its trucks running for many years.

Finding Solutions to Fleet Maintenance Cost Increases

Hand drawing a pie chart on clear board

Controlling Fleet Maintenance Costs

Fleet Maintenance Cost Increases

There are going to be costs associated with any business. A survey done by GE Capital Fleet Services recently, shows that maintenance costs for fleets in the United States have increased by 7 percent for 2012. This has many fleet managers wondering just how much of an increase these costs will incur for 2013.

“In terms of monetary value, GE Capital Fleet Services found that monthly average maintenance costs for these vehicles amounted to $52.66 per vehicle, against $49.20 in 2011. Two of the most frequent elements within maintenance costs – oil and tires – both increased. GE Capital Fleet Services expects a further slight increase this year”.

Do Younger Fleets Help?

Studies have shown that while the cost for monthly preventative maintenance increased in 2012, younger fleet age did help to offset some of the increased labor and parts cost. The average car maintenance cost raised about $3.46 from $49.20 to $52.66 for each vehicle each month. Factors that influenced these costs include increased preventative maintenance expenses. Costs for oil changes increased although the frequency in which oil was changed decreased which helped to lessen the total impact.

Tires Play a Big Part

Tire expenses also increased, by eight percent and the cost of replacing tires increased by 15 percent. These increases are attributed to higher costs for manufacturing tires as well as larger rims which naturally mean more expensive tires. Overall, the quality of fleet vehicles has risen as well and continues to improve which has resulted in parts that last longer which ultimately means less frequent maintenance in the long run.

“‘While we expect passenger car maintenance expenses to rise slightly in 2013, improvements in vehicle quality will present opportunities for fleet maintenance savings in years ahead,' said Eric Strom, maintenance and safety product manager for GE Capital Fleet Services. ‘As cost savings remain the largest area of focus for both fleet and executive management, we're committed to working with customers to identify and reduce costs across their vehicle fleets.'”

Fleet Maintenance Software Can Help

Fleet management can expect maintenance expenses to continue on the upswing, particularly for fleets that are not yet accepting vehicle replacement cycles. The number of miles driven will increase the chance of component failures that could cost thousands of dollars to repair. The individual costs for replacing things like tires, changing oil and other repairs will also likely increase over the next year. Many industry experts believe that the best way to keep these costs to a minimum is to implement a fleet management system. Software programs that aid with fleet management can be very beneficial in helping to keep costs down.

Another way to offset cost increases is to cycle older vehicles. Aging of fleet vehicles is a large factor in the increased cost of maintenance and vehicles with higher mileage risk even higher costs than average.

“Cycling older vehicles is a great way to mitigate increases in maintenance spends, but careful consideration must be made not only to maintenance, but all aspects of lifecycle costs. The market today is actually favorable to cycling in many cases, due to stronger resale markets as well as better technology that is increasing fuel economy.”

Preventative Maintenance Still Best Way To Save Money

Companies that are looking to keep costs to a minimum can find vast amounts of information on lowering costs. Those who do not have a software program for fleet maintenance are urged to find one. There are a number of programs on the market that will ensure that vehicles are maintenance on a regular basis. Preventative maintenance goes a long way in keeping overall costs down. As a general rule, preventing a mechanical problem is less costly and less time consuming than repairing one.

Fleet Maintenance And The CSA Challenge

White Truck on the Road

Keeping Trucks on the Road with FMCSA Compliance

An analysis of the Maintenance BASIC under the Compliance, Safety and Accountability program from the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration showed that a high number of violations are caused by requirements regarding reflective lighting. Broken lamps are another problem for many fleet managers along with wheel part repairs and chafed brake hoses.

“Seventy to 75 percent of all CSA points can be traced back to maintenance or unsafe driving violations”.

In the past, many of these issues may have been overlooked. Drivers and managers would simply have decided that while the issues were in need of repair, they were not extensive enough to actually shut down the fleet. Today however, these are issues that are commonly repaired right away because the points will count against the fleet and could possibly cause a major shutdown of operations.

Larger problems were typically always repaired right away but minor issues would have been overlooked simply because they were costly or time consuming and because they did not threaten the operation, they could be put off for a later time. Today however, the CSA looks at everything that could possibly cause an issue and ensures that managers are focusing on all aspects of operating their fleets.

Many organizations are learning that in order to comply properly with CSA standards, a pre-trip and a post-trip inspection are needed by the driver. Everyone in the organization should be focusing on CSA requirements

in order to ensure that the operation remains on track. This includes every operation that uses trucks.

“The most important thing to note with CSA is that if your business is using trucks, you are subject to it,” stresses Stephen Keppler, executive director of the Greenbelt, Md.-based Commercial Vehicle Safety Alliance (CVSA), an international not-for-profit organization composed of local, state, provincial, territorial and federal motor carrier safety officials and industry representatives from the United States, Canada and Mexico”.

Historically, he says, a lot of refuse businesses did not really think of themselves as trucking companies; trucks were just one of many tools to collect trash and recyclables. Under CSA, they no longer have that luxury. Any business operating commercial trucks is going to be captured within this new safety net.

“On top of that, CSA uses real-time data generated from roadside inspections to put together its fleet safety ratings,” says Keppler. That means things like maintenance defects and out-of-adjustment brakes will find their way into in the public eye a lot faster than most fleets realize.

The CSA began in 2010 and since that time, the trucking industry has seen a dramatic reduction in violations, more so than in the last 10 years combined. Driver violations are down by more than 15 percent and roadside inspection violations are down by almost 14 percent. These numbers may continue in a positive direction as more and more fleet management programs are implemented by various companies.

“FCMSA's number one goal is safety: We want to ensure that every trip is a safe trip every time. And we think CSA is bridging multiple worlds in that process. And the nation's fleet maintenance professionals deserve a lot of credit for that; making older equipment work safely while learning to understand and use new technology in pursuit of low CSA scores and consistent safe vehicle operation.”

The integration of regulations by the CSA has required a number of changes within many organizations. Poor performers have been replaced and this covers every base from technicians and drivers to entire fleets. Even law enforcement officers who are tasked with carrying out vehicle and driver inspections have begun to adhere more to CSA standards in an attempt to make the roadways safer for everyone.

2 Quick New Videos… Fixing bad Odometer entries

If you missed it I also posted a Video last week showing you a couple of ways to handle Tools or Equipment that you keep on your Trucks or Vehicles

Fixing Odometer Entry Mistakes.

From a previous tip:

I had a customer call me with a weird problem today.

Whenever he ran his mileage report under Reports-More Reports Report Type: Equipment, then select the report called “Equipment Miles/Km Traveled – Hours Run”

he was getting a reading of -26066 miles traveled.

I did a quick scan of his entries via remote access and could not see what the problem was.

So I download a copy of his TATEMS data file so I could have a better look.

What I found surprised me. In the middle of all his entries he had lower odometer reading for a date of Jan 7 2800 instead of Jan 7, 2008
so the report results was always skewed. He also had a current entry April 1, 2009 that had a lower odometer reading by thousands of miles than the one entered just prior to it.

It's an easy fix but sometimes those miss entered numbers and dates are hard to spot.

So…

If you make a mistake, in order to correct it, you can click on the “Update Odometer and Hours” button.

Then you can click the “View All for This Equipment” button to find your mistake and delete it or change it.
After you have fixed it, click the “Update and Close” button.

In the short video below I demonstrate how to delete or edit An Odometer Enter that was entered incorrectly.

I hope this tip has been helpful for you.

If you have any questions or comments please leave them below.

Have a great weekend!