Maintaining your fleet is a critical part of any business operation. The potential losses from a breakdown are huge. There could be late shipments, spoiled product, or even an accident, any of which will result in big costs to the business. On top of that, there will be repair bills that will ring up much higher than the appropriate preventive steps would have been. It is absolutely true that an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure. Here are some simple steps for keeping your trucks in peak condition.
Follow Maintenance Schedules
For many drivers, there is one maintenance schedule that the owner’s manual recommends and another that they actually implement. Unless your program is stricter than what the manufacturer recommends, don’t fall into this trap. Adhere closely to the recommendations for fluid, belts, filters, and other key parts so that you don’t end up overrunning their lives and doing long-term damage to the truck.
The news is full of stories about trucks that were misdirected by navigation systems and end up in winding rural roads where they overturn, wreck, or simply get stuck. Educate your drivers about the limitations of GPS guidance and make sure that they temper the technology with common sense, and maybe even with a paper map. Taking trucks through slower, rougher roads is a recipe for downtime.
Don’t Overlook the Body
Many hard-core fleet managers go light on attention to body panels and components, thinking that fenders don’t drive it. The reality is that these elements can be just as important in the long term as the engine and drive train. Damaged, missing, or rusted body parts can allow rain, salt, and debris to come into contact with fragile mechanical systems like radiators. Maintain all truck body parts as attentively as you do the running gear.
Expect Quality Driving
Drivers who exceed speed limits and otherwise abuse trucks are the ones who create the greatest costs for you. Install sensors and tracking equipment to track exactly what speeds are being seen by your trucks. There may be initial resistance, but good fences make good neighbors. Your drivers will quickly see that they cannot have a problem about their driving if their performance is being tracked at all times. In addition, consider implementing a reporting system for other drivers to call in reckless behavior.
Keeping your fleet going means managing it properly. A good system of mechanical and body upkeep, along with wise driving policies, will minimize down time and keep your trucks on the road.