At its core, fleet preventive maintenance is aimed at making sure your team of workers and technicians can use company vehicles to get to their job sites efficiently. Cutting out any downtime that may impact the flow of your business is critical, especially if you are in the active field service industry.
Indeed, vehicle downtime can cost a fleet an average of somewhere between $488 to $760 per day, per vehicle, in addition to towing fees, according to Vehicle Service Pros.1
If managed effectively, proper preventive maintenance scheduling will also allow your fleet to reap other important benefits toward your business, including reducing fleet spend in other areas of the company, having safer drivers, and upholding a positive brand image.
Preventive Maintenance in a Nutshell
The basic components of preventive maintenance include being consistent with vehicle monitoring in a few specific areas, including:
- regularly scheduled servicing
- thorough inspections
- necessary repairs
And some important items that are addressed during a preventive maintenance interval, considering the vehicle’s mileage and hours in service, just to name a few, include checking:
- braking system
- engine oil
- tires, wheels, and rims
- transmission fluid
- belts and hoses
- electrical system components
- steering and suspension system
Doing so is especially important for field service fleets – such as those in electrical services, HVAC, delivery, lawn and landscape services industries – to prevent the possibility of unnecessary downtime. This is critical since your technicians will likely be servicing many customers in a single day.
Echoing the importance of being aware of a vehicle’s condition to keep business activity flowing, Tyrell Steffen, field operations, Classic Installs Inc., stressed the negative impacts downtime will have on his company – which deals with installation services.
“We’re a turnkey industry, so everyday we’re moving onto the next point. So with that, not having a van fail and being able to catch it when it’s only a minor hour or two inconvenience for our guys to get it fixed by a mechanic compared to being down in the road for three or four days. That will really save us a lot of money,” said Steffen.
Considering Fleet Costs
Extended vehicle downtime that may be brought on by not following a proper preventive maintenance schedule for your vehicles may equate to missing out on important service calls, which will subsequently mean lost service call revenue.
This could also mean spending more on unscheduled maintenance needs that could have normally been avoided with the help of proper preventive maintenance scheduling, and possibly, if it gets to that point, having to rent or acquire new vehicles to make up for the lost downtime from idle assets, further exacerbating unexpected costs.
Your customers are likely relying on quality/reliable service, so any hiccups in business activity may reflect badly on your business.
But these preventive maintenance measures are not just designed to eliminate vehicle downtime, they’re going to save your company money in the long run in other ways.
Take tire inspection, for instance. According to the U.S. Department of Energy, having under-inflated tires can lower gas mileage by about 0.2% for every 1 psi drop in the average pressure of all tires on a vehicle. Fleets can improve their gas mileage by 0.6% on average by keeping tires inflated to the proper pressure.2
With that in mind, if you’re operating a HVAC fleet that often carries a lot of equipment or your fleet delivers packages or if your assets are equipped with some type of specialized equipment, the impact the added weight will have on tires is going to add up in terms of gas mileage. Not to mention, it’s much safer for your driver to be operating a vehicle with properly inflated tires.
Safety Benefits of Preventive Maintenance
Indeed, while the benefits of having proper preventive maintenance scheduling cannot be overstated to a company’s successful operation, this also helps to ensure drivers are safe on the road – knowing your assets are in an ideal condition for your drivers.
While 90% of crashes are the result of human error, according to the National Safety Council – with distracted driving as the huge cause for this significant percentage – vehicle error is not an impossibility for your fleet.3
More than 90% of car crashes involve human error. A NSC analysis of NHTSA data found that 2,841 people died in distraction-affected crashes in 2018.
A 2015 study from NHTSA found that 2% of road crashes were caused by vehicle error. While a pretty small percentage, roughly 35% of that was attributed to tire problems, and another 22% was due to brake issues. You really don’t want to be a part of that minority.
2% of road crashes were caused by vehicle error, according to NHTSA data from 2015. Roughly 35% of that was tire problems, and another 22% was due to brake issues.4
Certainly a small amount when compared to the much larger scope of human error, increasing your fleet’s likelihood of safety risks by not performing proper preventive maintenance is just basic negligence.
Speaking of negligence, in the case of a crash, if one of your fleet assets was considered at fault due to a maintenance issue that could have been prevented with proper preventive maintenance scheduling, an attorney could make the case of negligent entrustment of an asset against your company for not following basic preventive maintenance duties.
Keeping Customers and Drivers in Mind
While field service fleets encompass a lot of different areas, many share a critical component which is client interaction.
If one of your drivers arrives at a customer location in a vehicle with visibly low-inflated tires or squeaky brakes their perception of your business’ professionalism could be at risk.
But it’s not just for customers: if you’re not putting in the work to make regular preventive maintenance to support your business, you may also be disappointing your drivers, which can negatively impact team morale.
Fortunately, there is technology available to help fleets effectively manage preventive maintenance beyond the regularly scheduled maintenance intervals that vehicles should follow.
By utilizing GPS tracking, field service fleets can better track the status of their vehicles and manage them efficiently, particularly with route optimization, which will help fleets get the most out of their business activity and scheduling.
Even if you’re already monitoring your preventive maintenance planning closely, performing regularly scheduled servicing, conducting thorough inspections, and making any necessary Repairs, you can further support yourself here with proper field service management tools.
Giving your team more time at job sites, and reducing vehicle wear due to less navigating that needs to be done, services like this ultimately offer an important ROI to help you save additional costs on top of your preventive maintenance scheduling.