While most fleet managers are becoming more switched on to managing their fuel spend and residual values, some still struggle to manage their planned and unplanned vehicle downtime - or vehicle off-road (VOR) time.
Unplanned vehicle downtime not only means your employees can’t work, it has a knock-on effect on business productivity such as delayed jobs, customer dissatisfaction and loss of money. That’s why we’ve shared our top fleet management tips to reduce downtime and help keep your vehicles on the road.
1. Regular maintenance and repairs
Scheduling regular maintenance and repairs is an easy way to eliminate downtime. Better still, try to arrange these during off-hours to reduce the time your employees may be without a vehicle.
Since maintenance takes your vehicles out of service - resurfacing the problem of downtime, it’s essential for fleets to be smart about the way they handle the service. For example, where possible try to identify when services are due and get them all done at once.
2. Minimise shop time
Keeping up on routine maintenance won’t always prevent your vehicles from going down. Eventually the inevitable will happen, so it’s key to get your vehicles out of the repair shop in record time.
Whether you have your own maintenance facilities or a company who it arranges it for you, there are several steps to streamline the repair process, which will help get your vehicles back on the road faster:
- Check beforehand that parts are available
- Refine the repair order process to eliminate wasted steps
- Try to schedule repairs when vehicles aren’t needed (e.g. after hours)
- Partner with vendors with effective contracts that reward and penalise performance and quality
3. Measure downtime
Being able to properly measure downtime will help you control it. Gathering data through an online fleet management tool will help you identify your vehicle’s age mileage, frequency of servicing or breakdowns and actual downtime. This way, you can predict recurring issues and take action where needed, such as replacing vehicles, investigating possible reasons for wear and tear and analysing driver behaviour.
4. Promote staff accountability
One of the benefits of measuring downtime is being able to hold your drivers accountable for it. The more your staff care for the vehicles they drive, the more they’re likely to continue to operate them properly and avoid trips to the repair shop.
One way to do this is for fleet managers and drivers to both work together to ensure downtime is minimised and recognise the potential rewards in doing so. This could involve ensuring drivers perform proper pre and post-trip inspections of their vehicles.
5. Using the right vehicle for the job
Another way to prevent repairs is proper vehicle selection. Overtaxing small vans can lead to downtime fast, which is why choosing the right vehicle for the right job is important.
Think about the amount of payload and gross vehicle weight (GVW) needed for the job. Little thought to this can lead to excessive breakdowns and downtime due to repairs to engines, tires, brakes and more.
For more fleet management tips, download our guide: Rightsizing your van fleet: How to improve costs, safety and efficiency, where you’ll learn how to make significant reductions in running costs as well as improved productivity: