Best Practices for Vehicle Fleet Management
For many businesses, their fleet is the heartbeat of daily operations. If one vehicle is out of commission it will have a ripple effect internally as well as externally. Internal departments could get backed up, services or products won’t be delivered, possibly affecting the customers’ businesses and customers. Operating efficiently is critical to the success of your business. Implementing these best practices will help put your fleet management initiatives on the right track.
Set Goals Across Your Organization
Establishing well defined goals and monitoring progress towards them is key to successfully managing your fleet. These goals should benefit the overall goals of the company. Each department makes a company whole. For example if a company identifies a goal of reducing operating costs over the next 12 months, the fleet manager has a responsibility to help the company achieve the goal. Fleet managers can implement and refine processes like:
- lowering maintenance and fuel costs
- optimizing service times
- improving overall vehicle utilization
- reducing safety incidents and risks>
Maintain Department of Transportation (DOT) Regulations to Stay Compliant
Not following DOT regulations and guidelines can be costly, and it can put the safety of the drivers at risk. Two areas that fleet managers should prioritize to maintain fleet compliance are the DOT required records and vehicle inspection requirements.
All documentation of active fleet vehicles must be maintained and current for 12 months and for six months after a vehicle is retired from their fleet or sold. Records must include the following:
- Vehicle identification, including company number, make, serial number, year, tire size, and ownership
- A full record of inspection, repairs, and maintenance indicating the date and what was done
- A record of tests conducted on pushout windows, emergency doors, and emergency door marking lights for buses or passenger vehicles
Driver inspection reports must be completed and signed by the driver for any vehicle they operate. The report must identify the vehicle and any defects or deficiencies found during the inspection. Any corrective action or repair should be noted containing the issue and be certified by the operator. Inspections should include the following items:
- Brakes including trailer brake connections and the parking brake
- Steering mechanism
- Lighting devices and reflectors
- Tires, wheels, and rims
- Windshield wipers
- Rear vision mirrors
- Emergency equipment
Driver inspection reports should be used to initiate maintenance workflows to help reduce downtime or accidents. When issues are ignored, they become bigger issues. It’s best to address problems right away.
Maintain Preventative Maintenance Schedules
When it comes to preventative maintenance, it’s best to take a proactive approach rather than risk a breakdown that could cause even bigger, more costly maintenance issues and put the driver at risk.
When creating your preventative maintenance checklist, it’s important to remember that it should be customized to your fleet’s vehicles and how they are used. For example, delivery vehicles commonly do a lot of low speed driving in neighborhoods and idling while making the actual delivery. Maintenance checklists should probably be based on engine hours.
Fleets that have multiple drivers operating a vehicle have a tendency to experience greater wear and tear on their vehicles, requiring more frequent maintenance. When fleet managers maintain preventative maintenance schedules, there is less disruption to operations, and driver safety is improved.
Put Your Drivers First
Your drivers are just as important as the vehicles in your fleet. It begins with screening and selecting your drivers carefully. Establish hiring standards that include a thorough screening process for potential drivers. Providing them with training to build the skills necessary to operate their vehicles safely and efficiently isn’t an option. This should be an ongoing part of your fleet management strategy, just like preventative maintenance schedules on fleet vehicles. Ensure all drivers have easy access to information on safe driving strategies and techniques, including instruction in defensive driving. Set clear, consistent expectations by creating written policies and procedures that are clear and concise. When drivers are properly trained, it sets the organization up for establishing a long-term safety record and increases the life of the vehicles in your fleet.
Overcome Challenges with Fleet Management Software
Implementing fleet management software is a good way to help promote sustainability and increase efficiency within your fleet. Fleet managers have their work cut out for them. With the increased environmental regulations, and the rising cost of fuel and vehicle maintenance, compounded by driver shortages, it’s demanding. Fleet management software does some of the heavy lifting with features like:
Idle reduction — reducing fuel burn and carbon emissions by lowering the standing idle rate on vehicles without impacting performance.
Eco adjustment — reduce excess fuel burn and help lower your fleet’s carbon footprint and meet compliance regulations by smoothing out vehicle shifting patterns.
Speed governor — increase fuel efficiency and reduce harmful carbon emissions by restricting vehicle speeds.
Fleet management doesn’t have to be overwhelming. Yes, it’s true. Fleet managers have a lot on their plate dealing with the vehicles and their drivers. The Derive Platform can make their job so much easier and improve the efficiency of their fleet. Contact us to learn more about improving the efficiency of your fleet.