Your crew is the heart and muscle of the maintenance department. Your vehicles and heavy equipment are the backbones your crew relies on to get work completed.
Having an established system of maintaining and monitoring your fleet requires many moving parts. Here are some steps to help ensure your vehicles are safe, dependable, and ready to respond when needed.
Start with a Baseline
Document the condition of every vehicle in your fleet. Review maintenance history, mileage, previous damage, and vehicle usage. Have your mechanics (or mechanic contractors) thoroughly inspect and document the findings.
Set the Framework for a Maintenance Plan
After you have a clear picture of the current state of your fleet, it’s time to develop your plan. As you put a system into place, make sure you include:
- A preventive maintenance checklist and service interval for each vehicle
- A process for drivers to inspect, record usage, and report problems
- Locations or facilities where inspections, maintenance, and repairs take place
- A standardized filing system for maintenance records
Schedule Preventive Maintenance
Next, create a preventive maintenance schedule for each vehicle in the fleet. Use the checklist you created in the previous step to set up monthly, quarterly, or annual maintenance tasks. Stagger maintenance tasks among vehicles so it will not affect the workflow.
With a plan in place, predefined thresholds will trigger when it is time to inspect, clean, test, repair, or replace a part. Be sure this information is easily accessible to your crew.
Provide Training for Inspecting & Reporting Vehicle Issues
Your crew may notice subtle issues with a vehicle that wouldn’t be obvious during a routine inspection.
Each time your crew takes a vehicle out, they should do a quick inspection. This includes checking for leaks, damage, or any other issue that may affect the vehicle’s safety and performance.
Your crew also needs to conduct routine inspections of fluids, tire pressure, brakes, windshield wipers, and other vehicle safety & operating systems.
Of course, “normal” operation conditions can vary. Vehicles used for off-road conditions, snow removal, towing, or prone to excessive idling may require more frequent inspections and maintenance.
Track Vehicle Usage
Your preventive maintenance plan also depends on knowing the usage of your vehicles and equipment. Set up a system so your crew can record mileage, hours of use, and fuel consumption.
Tracking vehicle usage also gives you a clearer picture of fuel costs. As we all know, the cost of fuel can vary dramatically and impact your operating budget. Understanding how routes, emergency maintenance, and other tasks use fuel allows you to make changes, especially when fuel prices spike.
Determine Replacement Schedules
There inevitably comes a time when vehicles need replacement. If prepared, vehicle replacement becomes a natural part of fleet maintenance--not a surprise cost that may cause budget issues.
When figuring out replacement schedules, track the annual mileage, usage hours, and how long you plan to keep a vehicle. Also, consider the annual maintenance expenses and the number of breakdowns or other issues that arose throughout the year.
Let’s say you have a plan to replace a vehicle after 10 years or 100,000 miles. As you review fleet maintenance records, you notice a truck that only has 75,000 miles--but it’s been in for repairs twice as many times as a couple of older vehicles in your fleet. As you run the numbers, it appears this vehicle is costing you much more and creating the most workflow disruptions. You have the exact records to prove that replacing this truck first makes more sense than replacing an older truck that is more reliable.
Another advantage of planning replacement schedules is “right-sizing” your fleet. Instead of choosing a vehicle because that’s what you used in the past, you may find one that will perform better for less cost. Determine the new vehicle’s usage and what specifics (size, horsepower, fuel efficiency, drive train, etc.) are needed to complete these tasks. Use these specifics to find the best vehicle for the job.
Automating Fleet Maintenance
As you can see, effectively maintaining your fleet can be challenging. Luckily, there are several fleet maintenance software solutions available. Software makes it easy to collect usage data, generate reports, schedule inspections, and quickly take care of issues.
One thing to consider with parks & recreation fleets is ensuring the software integrates with other aspects of the maintenance department. The integration allows you to assign vehicles and schedule routine repairs around programs, events, and crucial maintenance tasks--a great way to prevent miscommunication and unnecessary workflow disruptions.