An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure, as the old saying goes, and this is as true of maintaining your fleet as it is of maintaining your health. A preventative fleet maintenance schedule helps ensure your fleet is in top condition and reduces the amount of time you'll have to take vehicles off the road. But what's the best way to start?
Step One: Inventory Your Fleet's Health
The first step to preventative maintenance is giving every vehicle in the fleet a full going-over. Fluids should be changed if necessary, mileage should be noted, tires checked, and most importantly, all of this needs to be written down. Write out a checklist for your fleet that includes fluid changes, inspections, tire rotation and anything else you can think of that your fleet needs done on a regular basis, and make sure it includes mileage, cost of repairs and dates for easy tracking. Check the paperwork and note down upcoming scheduled maintenance. Set up a system that's easy to use for drivers to track mileage and time on the road, so you can have this information going forward.
Step Two: Build A Database
Once you have all this data, it's time to punch it into a database. Even something as simple as a spreadsheet will still be incredibly useful, as it lets you see each vehicle's maintenance schedule at a glance. Make sure to write down important mileage and date milestones like oil changes and inspections.
Take a moment to develop a maintenance calendar, as well, and be sure to configure alerts for your calendar so you see exactly what's due when. Knowing an inspection is a week away makes it much easier to prepare for than learning about it the morning it's happening.
Step Three: Talk To The Drivers Regularly
Nobody knows your fleet like the team behind the wheel, so make a point of talking to them and making it easy for them to communicate with you. Share an email address and a phone they can reach you at, and make a point of returning those calls as soon as you can. If they come to you with a problem, take a moment to look the vehicle over and see if any issues stand out. Keep in mind that not everybody will come to you when they notice problems, but leaving the door open will make it easier.
Step Four: Track Data And Look For Patterns
Once you've got all this in place, and are regularly updating your spreadsheets and calendars, start looking at the data and seeing if any patterns jump out at you. For example, if one driver is being particularly hard on the brakes of a vehicle, you'll likely see that reflected in more frequent brake checks and more repairs done to that vehicle. If you're regularly fixing one system on a vehicle, performing the same repair frequently or you're constantly on the phone with electrical suppliers to replace the same parts, that's likely a sign of a larger problem.
Careful preventative maintenance can mean the difference between a fleet that's always available and one constantly up on the lift. So, design a preventative fleet maintenance schedule and keep crucial components, like our wire and cable products, on hand.