Article

Mobilizing Best Practices in Fleet Maintenance

March 2014, TruckingInfo.com - WebXclusive

by Greg Wilson, GE Capital Fleet Services

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Whether it’s maintaining vehicles, managing drivers, engineering, ordering, tracking fuel spending, remarketing or staying compliant, the host of priorities a fleet manager must maintain presents an ongoing laundry list of concerns. Yet even while controlling costs remains a major focus of fleet and business managers, driver safety outpaces all other priorities (according to a recent GE Capital Fleet Services study).

'It’s for that reason that managing proper vehicle maintenance is still one of the most basic and important components of a fleet manager’s job. And with more and more companies managing fleet assets in remote areas, the emerging need for quality mobile maintenance services has leapt into focus.

However, maintaining a mobile maintenance program adds another layer of complexity into the traditional maintenance program mix. All of the primary challenges of establishing an effective maintenance program – including finding technicians, determining and meeting schedules, and establishing cost-effective preventative maintenance programs – become more difficult when mobile compatibility becomes a requirement as well.

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Quite simply, it’s hard for many fleets to scale their internal processes to ensure remote assets are being repaired and maintained via the same best practices that are afforded to their on-site vehicles.

Therefore, it’s important that fleet managers work directly with their maintenance partner to guarantee their needs can be met– any time, day or night – to minimize risk, ensure quality control and optimize reliability. This can help fleets with assets in remote locations find, for example, skilled and trusted technicians. 

By working with an outsourced provider that specializes in mobile maintenance, the difficulty of sourcing such technicians can be bypassed and mobile repair services can be provided with the same degree of expertise as traditional on-site offerings. For instance, GE Capital Fleet Services entered into a partnership with Amerit Fleet Solutions in 2013 to increase not only customers’ access to mobile repair technicians, but to also ensure consistent access to preventative maintenance services for even the most remote of fleet assets.

Of course, any maintenance program must address the basic services that keep vehicles running – oil changes, tire rotations, coolant flushes and brake and electrical repairs. Yet fleet managers should also expect maintenance programs to help them streamline operations, through services such as parts inventory management and regular and routine safety inspections as required by the Department of Transportation and Occupational Safety and Health Administration. Given the cost and downtime that comes with moving remote assets to established centers for these services, it’s valuable to fold this into a mobile maintenance program.

When vehicles are operating at peak performance, drivers make confident decisions that help them prevent accidents and mishaps while on the roadway. Thus, fleet maintenance partners should also maintain detailed, comprehensive records, keeping a close eye on what has already been serviced and when routine repairs are needed.

Outsourced maintenance programs offer a number of benefits in any scenario, but their value is arguably most apparent when it comes to servicing remote fleets; that is, via a mobile maintenance platform. For many fleets, an outsourced mobile maintenance partner can help keep drivers and vehicles safe, allowing fleet managers to keep core operations in the forefront.

Greg Wilson is Truck Product Manager, GE Capital Fleet Services

(Editors' Note: This material was chosen and edited by HDT's editorial staff as something we believed would be of interest and use to our readers.)

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