As 2022 comes to a close, supply chains across the world are scrambling once again, this time to deal with excess inventory and inflation-induced pressures. Thanks to the COVID-19 pandemic through 2020-21, stakeholders across logistics networks had to pivot their business strategy to deal with higher demand. But now, due to global inflation, households are spending less, and demand is declining. In fact, experts predict a very cold holiday season for the logistics industry as companies focus on selling excess inventory. Amidst so many struggles, one of the areas that fleet owners can look at to mitigate losses is fleet downtime.
Downtime is ideally necessary to keep vehicles in your fleet in top condition. But scheduled maintenance is one of many harbingers of fleet downtime. Unscheduled events like accidents, idling drivers, compliance issues, traffic, and extreme weather conditions can all result in fleet downtime as well. Fleets typically spend between $850 and $1,000 per day on each out-of-service vehicle, which can result in total downtime costs that are eight times higher than expected.
While large fleet companies are able to handle downtime more effortlessly, small firms may not have the same resources. In fact, smaller firms are particularly susceptible to revenue losses due to downtime, so it’s crucial for them to understand how to prevent downtime efficiently.
Why is Fleet Downtime a Problem?
You are not making money if a vehicle is being repaired and is not being driven. Your fleet is the lifeblood of your business; therefore, the longer it takes to maintain a vehicle and get it back on the road for safe and legal operation, the less time you have to provide for your clients. This can lead to unhappy and unsatisfied customers or less than exceptional customer service.
A fleet’s ability to respond to changes for which they may not have been prepared is another benefit of vehicle downtime. It may have a detrimental effect on how well your organization performs at work, resulting in lower productivity and income.
Additionally, there is the problem of downtime costing your business money for avoidable repairs or, in the worst-case scenario, replacing your current vehicles with newer, better-functioning ones. The performance of your business may also suffer as you wait for new vehicles or repairs.
How Can Companies Mitigate Losses That Come With Fleet Downtime?
Here are some strategies fleet owners and managers can follow in order to stay on top of fleet downtime and vehicle maintenance.
1. Use Telematics to Empower Your Fleet
Outfitting vehicles with RFID, geofencing, and other tech upgrades, or telematics, can be the edge that fleet owners need to mitigate losses due to downtime. For instance, drivers can download a digital tracking app that allows them to log in hours of work, breaks, etc. Fleet owners can also track driver behavior, vehicle health, and more using telematics.
In fact, 55% of fleets reported reduced fuel costs from telematics software, a huge win considering that fuel is the largest expense for 32% of fleets. 42% of fleets have seen fewer safety incidents since using fleet tracking software to monitor driver behavior. Using smart devices linked to fleet management and telematics software allows all the stakeholders to get relevant information related to vehicles in the fleet, making it possible to gather insights on downtime costs.
2. Replace Old Vehicles when Required
Fleet owners need to make sure that they choose the right vehicles for the right purposes, terrain, etc., so that downtime is less frequent. Choosing the best fleet of vehicles reduces downtime by eliminating issues. Excessive wear and tear, for example, can lead to costly repairs and breakdowns that could have been avoided if a vehicle is not fit for its purpose.
While the capital cost of replacing vehicles is important, it is also important to remember that breakdowns and more frequent repairs are more likely with older equipment. In contrast, newer vehicles equipped with cutting-edge technology are much less likely to require unplanned service.
3. Schedule Regular Maintenance Programs For Your Fleet
Regularly scheduled maintenance is one of the most important steps in avoiding fleet downtime. Fleet maintenance costs are rising, with average expenses increasing by 50% between 2017 and 2018. However, regular preventive maintenance can help you avoid more costly repairs in the future.
Preventive maintenance (or a PM program) specifies when vehicles in your fleet must be serviced. This regular servicing enables maintenance crews to identify performance issues before they become problems, reducing the potential for downtime. Furthermore, scheduled downtime for vehicle maintenance allows businesses to plan ahead of time and schedule repairs during off-hours or slow days.
Vehicles that participate in scheduled PM programs experience 20% fewer days of maintenance-related downtime than vehicles that do not.Fleetpal’s downtime module lets fleet owners plan maintenance schedules and track progress digitally.
4. Use Fleet Maintenance Software
Fleet maintenance and management systems, a part of the web 3.0 experience, allow fleet owners to digitize their fleet maintenance schedules, track costs of repairs, downtime, and more, and provide a record of each vehicle’s productivity. Fleet managers and owners can record, track, and use insights from fleet maintenance or fleet management systems to bring more transparency to fleet operations and downtime. In fact, the demand for fleet management software has continued to grow at a rate of 10.6%.
Fleet downtime is a necessary evil that fleet owner-operators and companies must account for as a part of their operations. Trucking outfits need to ensure that their fleets are well-equipped with fuel, in proper working condition, and have all healthy parts to perform. Fleet owner-operators need to be on top of fleet downtime schedules to minimize losses. Using fleet maintenance software like Fleetpal can help fleet owners not just keep track of scheduled and unscheduled downtime but also help predict issues that may arise!
According to a report, the usage of predictive maintenance had risen from 47% to 51%, leading to running equipment failure dropping from 61% to 57%. More and more fleet owners are turning towards smart telematics software to reduce losses incurred during downtime.
If you are a fleet owner-operator interested in taking the guesswork out of your total cost of ownership and reducing losses due to unscheduled downtime, you can check out Fleetpal. Fleetpal is a commercial vehicle maintenance software designed to replace paperwork orders and confusing spreadsheets with a language everyone on your team can understand and can help fleet owner-operators with keeping track of all activity during downtime. Sign up for a free Fleetpal demo today.