The Cost of Progressive Damage for Your Fleet
Progressive damage is a term used to describe damages or injuries that get worse over a period of time. Progressive damage in fleets is also often referred to simply as “wear and tear”, as parts begin wear out or become damaged in small ways that begin to get bigger and more of a problem as time goes on. When progressive damage in fleets is not correctly and quickly addressed, the costs that can result from the consequences of inaction can end up being much greater than those that would have been associated with fixing any problems at an earlier point in time.
However, sometimes small problems are not even noticed until they become big and costly issue. This makes it important for fleets to run regular checks on all vehicles to ensure that they are up to standard and are not suffering from progressive damage.
An example of wear and tear causing progressive damage to vehicles could come from poor shifting techniques. For instance, a driver could accelerate without employing progressive shifting, which could max the engine RPM at every shift. This causes damage to the engine over time by making the exhaust gas temperatures to rise. This practice also results in fuel inefficiency.
Another example would be a driver going down a hill too fast consistently. They could put the transmission into gear and run the engine above 1800 RPM (revolutions per minute), which damages the engine and transmission.
Poorly trained or careless drivers can contribute to progressive damage
One issue that can result in progressive damage and cause serious problems for fleets is a mixture of entitlement and complacency on the part of drivers. While the great majority of fleet drivers treat their vehicles with the respect they deserve, complacency can result in the neglect of due care for the vehicles. One only too common reason for progressive damage is when vehicles are overloaded. When operators have not been correctly trained significant damages can occur.
Improper training of drivers can also cause serious problems that can end up being very costly for the company that neglected its responsibilities in regards to training its drivers in the correct way. Even simply missing one oil change could cause serious problems down the line, and the most diligent of fleet managers may inadvertently overlook the occasional routine maintenance process, resulting in vehicle performance issues over time. It is vital for all vehicles in a fleet to be there for all oil changes and other scheduled maintenance.
Why maintenance records matter
Maintenance records for all vehicles need to be correctly updated with notes and special instructions so that when a vehicle is brought in for the purposes of checking and replacing many of the issues will already have been identified.
The ever-increasing cost of progressive damage
If progressive damage is serious enough to actually result in vehicles within a fleet becoming involved in an accident, the costs can accelerate exponentially. These costs can include the obvious such as vehicle repairs and medical bills but hidden costs that can end up being an equally significant problem such as legal expenses, lost production and property damage.
One cost that can eventuate from accidents caused by progressive damage to vehicles in a fleet can a major increase in insurance premiums. Other examples include damage to the fleet’s corporate image that could be permanent and irreparable, not to mention worker’s compensation claims and overall employee morale.
The importance of enforcement
One of the biggest causes of progressive damage in fleets is the lack of enforcement in regards to existing fleet policies. While the majority of fleets will inform their drivers of such policies, it can be a different matter entirely when it comes to enforcing them.
Training sessions should be conducted on a regular basis, along with refresher courses. Drivers who take good care of vehicles should receive incentives but there should also be penalties for those who do not. The enforcement of predefined fleet policies can make an enormous difference in regards to the minimization of progressive damage to your fleet, and save a lot of money in the long term.