We’ve talked a lot about preventative maintenance and the importance of ensuring you don’t suffer from excessive downtime. There is a simple way fleet managers can do this. Fleet maintenance software is a management application that allows fleet managers to reduce maintenance costs, improve fleet performance, and assist in regulatory and legal compliance.
It has many functions, but just a few include
- Streamlines preventative and reactive maintenance, allowing you to catch small concerns before they become huge problems.
- Allows you to take care of huge problems when they occur.
- Helps manage schedules, organize work, and coordinate downtime across the entire fleet through a centralized system.
The beauty of systems like these is that they can benefit trucking companies of all types and sizes. Whether they use semi-trucks, delivery vehicles, rental cars, construction equipment, buses, taxis, aircraft, or more, maintenance software can help you better keep track of jobs, prevent downtime, and keep truck drivers and maintenance professionals happy.
Do You Need Fleet Management Software for your Trucking Company?
Without fleet maintenance software, fleet managers often find themselves in an endless battle against several inefficient systems. Instead, they are stuck with legacy systems like paper and spreadsheets to manage critical and time sensitive information. These legacy systems themselves are vulnerable to all kinds of human error: inspections get skipped, work orders get ignored, and sometimes entire assets go missing. This represents a huge problem for discerning fleet managers. So, what’s a fleet manager to do? Consider digital processes as a solution.
Setting up a digital maintenance management system saves time, money, and headaches. Fleet managers and technicians can set up set-and-forget notifications that alert them when it’s time for scheduled maintenance or when a warranty is set to expire. Long gone will be the days when they must set calendar reminders to check spreadsheets and manual reports.
The entire history of every vehicle in your fleet is right at your fingertips. These include:
- Inspection reports
- Registration information
- Mechanic signoffs
- Fuel reports
- … and more!
Maintenance software helps you decide when to retire a truck, how to keep up with new safety regulations, how many of a certain part you need to keep in inventory for repairs, and when preventative maintenance is required. With PM being such a critical part of a trucking company’s program, putting a system in place to manage it is a requirement to ensure shop technicians stay on track and on time.
What Type of Fleet Maintenance Software Do You Need?
Fleet maintenance software can be costly, but it does not have to be. Its cost usually depends on fleet size covered and the required features. Solutions range from comprehensive, enterprise-level platforms to specialized apps for small businesses and independent owner-operators. This could be challenging, but consider the following tips to ensure you end up with the right software:
- Fleet size
- Fleet goals
- Software features
- Pricing models
- Customer service
- Needs evaluation
There are definitely options out there, but you want to be careful to make the right choice. You don’t want to go through all the work of getting buy-in and adoption, but it’s not right for your operation. You need to ensure it addresses the problems you purchased it for in the begin with.
Fleets of equipment or vehicles come in all shapes and sizes. The needs and focus of a last-mile delivery company are quite different from a long-haul trucking company. So, when looking at maintenance management solutions, it’s essential to take stock of both your current needs and long-term objectives. Don’t just make a purchase with no long-term planning in mind.
Look for software that offers the services you immediately need. Don’t let a sales guy sell you on a bunch of extra features you don’t actually need. And you want the features you do need to still be helpful if you decide to grow your fleet. Will the software be scalable? It is critical that when you’re choosing fleet maintenance software, you should consider your future plans. Fleet size can dramatically impact pricing and feature needs.
What Features Should Your Trucking Company Consider?
You may already know exactly what features you need from a fleet maintenance platform. If not, you may be just starting your search for a proper solution. When choosing a software solution, start with a comprehensive view of the features that these types of tools entail, then choose the vendor that best meets your needs. Let’s take a closer look at these features and how they may help you improve your maintenance program.
- Digital Storage and Reporting: Instead of cabinets jammed with papers, consider solutions that utilize cloud storage, enable you to access fleet information from any device or location, and allow you to sync inspection, asset, and work order information in real-time.
- Tire Management: While a small fleet may be able to track their tires’ wear and tear manually if you manage a fleet of more than ten vehicles, you will likely benefit from a fleet management solution that includes this feature.
- Cost Tracking: Cost tracking features should allow you to easily check an asset’s cost history at a moment’s notice. Instead of elaborate spreadsheets, simple dashboards should point out costly fleet vehicles.
- Digital Forms: Fleet managers are all too familiar with “pencil-whipped” forms. Digital forms instead allow for easily readable and comprehensive forms usage. Some systems even allow for apps truck drivers can fill out on their mobile devices.
- Fuel Management: Fuel, and its rising costs, make efficiency essential. A good fleet management software system delivers driving behavior back to the manager, who can then correct fuel-wasting driving mistakes. You can also use these systems to track receipts and reduce the overall amount of fuel used across the fleet.
These five factors are just a few reasons to consider utilizing fleet maintenance software. But there are so many more reasons to make this critical investment in your trucking company’s future.
Mileage Tracking, Scheduling, Parts Management, and More
Let’s look at some other fleet management factors that commonly vex fleet managers. Mileage tracking is definitely one of them. Most fleet maintenance solutions offer some kind of mileage and engine hour tracking solution. The question is, does the tracking solution fit your operation?
Some options plug into your onboard diagnostics system which requires an investment into and installation of equipment. Others use optical character recognition to make the process as easy as pointing your camera at your odometer. Which brings us to another point. Interoperability is key. Ensure you choose a solution that integrates with the solutions you currently utilize.
Maintenance scheduling is another sore point trucking companies must deal with on a regular basis. As we have said before, properly scheduling preventative maintenance is critical to protecting your company’s margins. If you struggle to create and stick to a pre-planned maintenance program, your overall PM program will suffer. You need a solution that offers maintenance reminders and a dashboard where all PM information is categorized and easily accessed.
Another area related to preventative maintenance is parts management (same acronym, different processes). The fact is shop managers often struggle with parts inventory management. It’s usually one of the most difficult aspects of the company to manage, which is why a comprehensive software solution might be just what your business needs.
Also, consider service history. You are likely already keeping a detailed service history, but where is that history located? Is it in the filing cabinet or in a software system you can easily access in real-time from any device? You should already be keeping a detailed service history for every asset in your fleet. What’s more, you should be able to reference that history at any time. Expect this process to also become more tedious as you grow your trucking company. Make sure you invest in a system that is scalable over time.
The Bottom Line on Fleet Maintenance Software
Here’s the deal: preventative maintenance will cost you far less in the long run than unscheduled maintenance. We’ve talked about this nearly a billion times in the past. Consider that if you let a non-urgent $100 repair go unnoticed or documented, that could turn into a compound repair costing thousands of dollars in the future.
This conversation about maintenance software is really one of unscheduled downtime. It is hard to adequately measure the impacts that downtime has on trucking companies of all sizes. But needless to say, the impact is not minimal.
Maintenance software alerts you when preventative care is needed – and based on your company’s type and size – and makes it a cinch to schedule and receive sign-off upon completion of all maintenance and repairs—all within a single platform. What fleet manager or executive wouldn’t want to invest in a solution like that?