If your organization owns or manages a fleet of vehicles, you cannot afford to overlook the financial considerations involved in each business decision relating to that fleet. Among the most important of these is taking steps to ensure that you get maximum ROI from every one of your vehicles. Every step you take to lengthen the lifespan of your fleet will help improve that equation and add to your organization’s bottom line.
The biggest obstacle to a fleet’s lifespan is typically the business need to keep every vehicle on the road and rolling as much as possible. Lost operational time may be seen as lost revenue, or as creating a need to lease, purchase or rent additional short-term units. However, this is a narrow-minded perspective, as it fails to consider the overall life of the vehicles and how that affects revenue in the long-term. The better you maintain your fleet, the longer it each vehicle will last and the higher its resale value will be, when and if you decide to sell it.
To accomplish this objective, you need to manage your fleet to ensure each vehicle adheres to a strict maintenance schedule. The best fleet management systems and software will provide all the tools you need to schedule and track service status for your entire fleet.
Here are three ways you can extend the life of your fleet using fleet management tools.
1. Set service triggers
Certain conditions can trigger a service call for individual vehicles. For example, you can change the oil in each vehicle every 5,000 miles, or rotate the tires when they’ve reached 15,000 miles.
While you could request that your drivers report when these milestones have been reached, using a fleet management system to set automatic service triggers guarantees that the vehicle will be flagged for service when the time comes. Once the vehicle is taken offline, service techs can be notified that a vehicle requires attention.
Triggers should be configurable within the system software based on a wide range of conditions including total mileage, recurring mileage, usage time, or simply regular time intervals.
2. Take vehicles returned with problems offline
Sometimes a problem will arise while a driver is using a vehicle. When this happens, it’s imperative that the problem be reported upon return. Use your fleet management system to make this process easy and convenient for drivers, and you will ensure that problems never linger or worsen. You never want a situation where a driver finds a vehicle unusable or problematic due to a service issue going unreported.
Unexpected problems might include a low tire, check engine light or broken windshield wiper.
Your fleet management system software should provide for easy entry of service issues. It should automatically take that vehicle offline so that it is not available to users. Information about the service issue should be sent to the appropriate technician or other individuals so that the problem can be promptly addressed.
3. Rotate vehicles
Balance usage among fleet vehicles keeps the whole fleet healthy. Consider your organization’s mission or objectives to best determine how to prioritize how vehicles are assigned to users. The best fleet management system will offer a variety of criteria including:
Lowest mileage: Vehicles with the lowest mileage are issued first to balance the overall use of a fleet.
First in, first out: Vehicles are issued in the order by which they were returned. In this way, each vehicle will get used the same number of times. This evenly distributes use across the fleet and ensures that newer vehicles are not being overused.
Most fuel/charge: Vehicles are issued based on the amount of fuel or charge they have. This is particularly helpful when you have a fleet of electric cars, since it ensures vehicles with low charge levels spend more time charging before they are issued. Systems with APIs make it possible to integrate the key management and charging systems.
Priority: Administrators determine the order that vehicles are issued based on any priority you want. If some of your vehicles have recently been repainted, you can send those out first. You can keep an older vehicle in service, but reserve it so that it’s only issued when all other vehicles are on the road already. Or a limo company can choose their newest/nicest limos to be issued first, regardless of mileage.
The best fleet management systems and software will manage and automate all of the above, and more.
One highly practical way to control your fleet is to control the keys to the vehicles. A key management system that is purpose-built and designed for fleet management will give your drivers an easy way to request and return keys while also delivering all of the functionality discussed above to optimize fleet utilization.