Fleet managers around the country are under pressure to achieve meaningful cost savings on the company bottom line but, these measures have to be properly planned or they could bite back.
Fleet management is a single entity with many different working parts and fleet managers need to understand how they all fit together – and how to make them work for each other.
Following a meticulous maintenance routine and doing things ‘by the book’ will bring about maintenance savings. However, instead of immediately applying these to the overall cost of fleet, there may well be a case to use them to improve another areas of operation that may then help produce even bigger savings.
One area of operation where meaningful costs can be recouped is the maintenance of cars, light commercials and heavy vehicles. As an example, maintenance savings can quickly be eradicated if drivers regularly have ‘bumper-bashing’ incidents. Those maintenance savings could be used to fund driver training with the collective saving thereafter improving the cost efficiency even more.
Maintenance cost savings can be viewed in two lights. One being the financial benefit the business receives from scheduled services and attending to concerns the industry would term as ‘preventative maintenance’. The other would be the uptime of the vehicle, which results in continuous income whereas downtime results in a loss of income that nobody can afford.
Scheduled services must be carried out on time and as per the OEM specifications. This will result in short and long term cost savings if carried out properly. Oil sample tests, visual inspections of all belts and friction material and using good quality parts where the supplier offers some sort of warranty on the parts and on the workmanship should all be included in a scheduled service.
Deriving the maximum benefit from maintenance savings might also require an honest assessment of the fleet and a look at the benefits of an outsourced managed maintenance contract. The upside of an external maintenance package includes; one point of contact for all queries, reduced paperwork, extended periods for the payment of invoices, lower labour rates from suppliers due to price negotiation on volumes from the service provider, and benefits from parts discounts.
Preventative and predictive maintenance have similar objectives and are in place to establish a regular maintenance routine that allows a company to reach minimum or maximum standards.
Ken Staller, Daniel Penn Associates’ senior maintenance consultant, says the biggest difference between the two is, “Preventative maintenance tasks are completed when the machines are shut down and predictive maintenance activities are carried out while the machines are running in their normal production modes.”
Say, for example, a driver receives a new car but elects to cycle to and from work every day and not use the car over weekends. In this case the monthly travel distance is much less than with other cars.
If the car’s manual states it needs an oil change every 3 000 kilometres or three months and, over that time, it has done only 1 000 kilometres if you – as the fleet manager – schedule an oil change, this is preventative maintenance. On the other hand, predictive maintenance uses the on-board computer that comes with many cars equipped with condition-based service indicators for engine oil and air filters among other parts.
Basically, the car is driven until an alert comes on indicating there are 500 kilometres left before the oil needs changing. This is an example of predictive maintenance. It prevents breakdowns and gives service reminders that are a reflection of how much the car is actually used, with enough advance warning to repair the issue before the machine fails.
The cost implications of ignoring preventative maintenance can be, and frequently are, substantial. It is important to make sure that you are making the most of your fleet by optimising your maintenance plan and managing your fleet management processes to bring you the best results according to your business needs.
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