The High Cost of Unplanned Fleet Downtime on Your Brand’s Reputation
Updated: Oct 3, 2019
The holiday seasons are known for downtime. This downtime allows truck drivers to have time with their families and take some extra time to enjoy life; however, downtime comes at a business cost. When it is planned, like the holidays, you can plan around it and minimize any costs to the business. When it is unplanned, operations can turn to chaos rather quickly.
Chaos is just the beginning. Unplanned issues will bloat costs as you try to get the vehicle to a shop, the downtime increases as the shop tries to find time to handle the vehicle, and your brand can suffer due to creating delays for your customer. The good news is that methods exist where fleet managers can minimize the downsides when a vehicle is unexpectedly taken off the road. You can adopt proactive, preventative, and/or reactive strategies to help reduce the financial costs associated with unplanned downtime.
Proactive strategies are based on understanding the current condition of a vehicle and then forecasting its specific maintenance needs. The current condition is determined by conducting a series of measurements on a vehicle over time and then using those measures to forecast. As a fleet manager, you can employ basic proactive strategies to tires by measuring tread wear overtime. By measuring and recording tread wear at each shop visit, you can forecast when the tire will need to be replaced in the future or retreaded. This allows you to schedule future maintenance based on the specific condition of the vehicle. Proactive strategies become complicated when the relevant data for a part cannot be easily measured. In those cases, proactive strategies become costly to implement.
Preventative strategies are based on understanding when a vehicle will typically have maintenance issues and then scheduling maintenance before then. The standard preventative strategy is Preventative Maintenance which is the practice of getting maintenance after a set number of miles or months. Those two measures are easy to forecast allowing maintenance to be scheduled ahead of time allowing the shop to work it into their schedules. Preventative strategies are easy to follow allowing a straight-forward implementation but they suffer from a downside - the maintenance is based on an average vehicle and might not reflect the specific condition of a vehicle being repaired. If a vehicle is in worse condition than the average, it could have an issue because of its next routine maintenance. If the vehicle is in better condition, it could be having maintenance significantly before needed.
Reactive strategies are based on scheduling maintenance based on the early signs of a failure happening. An example is a vehicle being scheduled for maintenance as soon as a driver notices something off with their vehicle. Fleet managers should develop a process that allows for the addressing of any issues that may be reported by drivers to be a standard part of daily inspections. This includes the reporting of alerts and fault warnings from onboard telematics systems. Fixing a small issue as soon as it arises can prevent breakdowns that result in both much more expensive repairs and damage to the reputation of your fleet.
Changing Maintenance Strategies with Predictive Maintenance
Technology-focused on the collection and analysis of data has come a long way over the past few years. This has allowed data to be continuously collected off the different parts and subsystems in a vehicle and then analyzed enabling proactive maintenance strategies to be pursued without a significant cost associated with the collection and analysis of the data. Condition-based Predictive Maintenance is now possible. Predictive Maintenance allows you to understand the future maintenance needs of a vehicle based on its historic usage and current condition. This allows you to schedule future maintenance for a vehicle without worrying that it may breakdown beforehand or that the maintenance is happening too early.
Preteckt is the leading Prognostics-as-a-Service platform today trusted by fleets across North America. Having worked with large fleets, Preteckt has large amounts of vehicle and failure data. This data helped create very accurate prediction algorithms that cover many vehicle makes and models.