The purpose of all maintenance is to maintain vehicle availability at reduced cost.
Motor vehicle maintenance tasks include inspection, diagnosis, lubrication, adjustment, cleaning, testing and replacing failed components or components on the verge of failure.
Objectives of A Fleet Maintenance Program
The objectives of a Fleet Maintenance Program are:
When a vehicle is broken down into its parts, everyone can improve their knowledge and understanding of automotive technology. Fleet Managers and other employees involved in maintaining the fleet need to understand the characteristics of the assets they manage. The primary systems to be maintained in a motor vehicle are:
Fleet Managers should understand the purpose and basic operation of each of these systems.
Detecting and correcting deficiencies in any of the vehicle systems in their early stages before they develop into major defects results in lower maintenance costs as it is more cost effective to execute a planned repair in a shop than to fix a breakdown.
Equipment breakdowns and downtime can be significant costs. Downtime results in decreased efficiency, increased rental costs, loss of productivity and poor customer relations. Safety related defects identified before use can avoid accident, injury and death.
Maintenance should be scheduled to ensure all motor vehicles are maintained and serviced according to the vehicle manufacturer's recommendations (or more frequently where warranted by local conditions).
Benefits of a Scheduled Maintenance Program
A Scheduled Maintenance Program ensures motor vehicles:
Components of a Scheduled Maintenance Program
There are three major components of a scheduled maintenance program:
Development of the Maintenance Task and Time/Mileage Interval Checklist
Fleet Managers consult the manufacturer's recommended maintenance, the operating conditions of the vehicle, past experiences with the specific vehicle/vehicle class and the unscheduled maintenance on the vehicle to develop effective vehicle-specific scheduled maintenance. Fleet Managers consult individual vehicle records as well as class vehicle records in this process. Good recordkeeping will allow the Fleet Manager to identify emergency repairs and separate these repairs from other unscheduled maintenance items.
Importance of the Driver
Routine inspection of the vehicle before, during and after operation by the driver is where a good Scheduled Maintenance Program begins. Repair of defects found during these inspections can then be scheduled to prevent more costly repairs or excessive downtime later.
There are three types of inspections drivers can perform to improve the effectiveness of the Scheduled Maintenance Program:
A good maintenance program includes driver education and vigilance in performing these inspections as required so the vehicle is ready to support organization mission requirements. Drivers should file discrepancy reports and Fleet Managers should assure they are reviewed by the proper personnel and that appropriate actions are taken. Some organizations require drivers to review the last use report before using the vehicle.
Importance of the Mechanic
Properly trained mechanics in well-managed shops are an integral component in a successful Scheduled Maintenance Program. Whether this solution is provided through lease arrangement, in-house maintenance or through a commercial vendor, the process of inspection, parts-ordering and part-removal is the same as is avoidance of unnecessary inspections and associated repairs.
Importance of the Fleet Manager
Whether the Fleet Manager is in charge of vehicle maintenance or has his/her maintenance performed under lease arrangement, the Fleet Manager remains responsible for ensuring that the required maintenance is performed on time and correctly.
A Scheduled Maintenance Program should include a recorded, systematic procedure for the servicing and inspection of each vehicle and class of motor vehicle. The responsibilities for performance of each maintenance task should be defined.
Design the program to reduce high cost repairs, particularly if they are repetitive for a particular vehicle class. High volume repair costs for a given component may indicate a design weakness which may be best remedied by equipment modification than repeated repairs and also that changes may be necessary in future procurement specifications. It could also be an indicator of the need for mechanic training or incorrect operator usage or abuse. Spot checks to assure that scheduled maintenance is actually being performed is wise so that required servicing which is not performed is reported.
Many scheduled maintenance programs are based upon the vehicle manufacturer's recommended service interval inspections and fluid or part replacements. Heavy trucks may rely on PM-A, PM-B, PM-C and PM-D service classifications to address minor service work (lubes, tires, inspections), oil filters and engine adjustments, testing and replacement of components (brakes, hoses) and planned vehicle overhauls (rebuilding or replacing engines).
Costs of scheduled maintenance programs should be tracked by inspection, parts, fluids and labor classifications. As scheduled maintenance costs increase or decrease they can be compared with total vehicle costs, cost per hour or cost per mile and benchmarked.
The Fleet Manager should develop maintenance schedules for his/her fleet and maintain proper records for each vehicle. Schedules should include provisions for appropriate safety and emissions inspections as well as other PM tasks. Scheduled maintenance (as well as unscheduled maintenance) should be documented in the repair history of the vehicle.
The Fleet Manager should coordinate with State and local officials to ensure that the organization fleet meets the emissions program standards. In compliance with the Clean Air Act of 1977, some states have implemented mandatory emissions testing programs. Owned and leased vehicles are subject to the requirements of the jurisdiction where the vehicles are regularly housed. Not all states have required the Federal government to participate in the emissions testing program to the same degree. All require substantive compliance with the State emissions programs, but some do not require procedural compliance.
The Scheduled Maintenance Program should ensure that all vehicles meet or exceed the standards for vehicles set by the States with respect to operation of all safety related equipment; lights, horn, brakes, tires, etc. It is the organization's responsibility to ensure that these inspections are kept current, and to bear all costs associated with these inspections.
It is cheaper to change a tire in the shop than on the road. Fuel economy improves with the proper tire, inflation, mounting and driving habits. Achieving the lowest tire cost per mile begins with getting the correct tire and maintaining it properly. Tire preventative maintenance includes inspection for tread depth, wear patterns, sidewall cuts, proper inflation, balance and alignment. Larger fleets can justify using manufacturer's recommendations to start a tire maintenance program and as their fleet tire history develops, look for ways to reduce costs and downtime and improve fuel economy.
Unscheduled or emergency repairs
When unscheduled or emergency repairs are required, the scheduled maintenance schedule of the vehicle should be reviewed. If scheduled maintenance is due within 30 days or 500 miles, arrangements should be made to have the service performed concurrently with the other repairs if it will be advantageous to the organization in reducing vehicle downtime, cost and inconvenience.
The Fleet Manager's Maintenance Options
Dependent upon organization guidelines, a Fleet Manager may utilize in-house maintenance services or commercial vendors to meet his/her scheduled (or preventative) maintenance requirements.
Repair authorizations for unscheduled maintenance and repairs should be in accordance with the orgnization's procedures and dollar thresholds to ensure that:
In-house maintenance is most common among fleets that are in close geographical proximity and whose vehicles are used more that eight hours per day. The cost effectiveness of maintaining an in-house maintenance capability is dependent upon an analysis of the best use of funds. In-house maintenance programs represent a significant investment of capital, human resources and management time so these programs should be more effective and at least as cost efficient as the other options.
In-House Maintenance Shop Responsibilities
The Fleet Manager responsible for an in-house maintenance facility should establish administrative and procedural guidelines and controls to ensure a safe, efficient in-house maintenance shop operation.
Guidelines include implementing:
Where in-house maintenance services have been authorized, primary responsibility for the maintenance program is vested in the Fleet Manager. He/she is responsible for diagnosing, procuring and controlling motor vehicle service, maintenance and repairs.
Documentation of all repairs accomplished in-house should include labor hours, parts and tires issued from stock. Issues from parts and tires inventories are Government assets and subject to accountability requirements. These issues and inventories should be controlled and reviewed on a regular (at least monthly) basis. A Repair Limitation Policy should be established to ensure that high dollar value repairs are subject to supervisory review and approval. The repair limitation may be a specific dollar threshold (i.e., all repairs over $500), a percentage of the fair market value of the vehicle (i.e., all repairs exceeding 25% of the fair market value) and may include provisions that all repairs of a specific type (for example, engine replacement) be referred to the supervisor.
Except as otherwise noted, tires should be replaced when the remaining tread depth is 2/32 of an inch or less, when the tread user bars indicate that the tire shall be replaced or when the tires are otherwise deemed unsafe. A tread depth of 4/32 of an inch should be maintained on the front steering wheels of any vehicle exceeding 10,000 GVWR which is operated on the highway, any vehicle which carries hazardous or explosive material, all buses, and all ambulances. Snow tires should be installed only where geographic locations and local weather conditions warrant. They should be removed when such conditions no longer exist to extend the useful life of the tires and to reduce fuel usage. Analysis of tire replacement data is a best practice of many fleets to identify tire costs, premature failure, theft or driver abuse
Fuel consumption and conservation is a critical concern of Fleet Managers. A well-maintained vehicle suited to the mission driven properly will generate maximum fuel efficiency per vehicle.
Petroleum usage can be reduced by the acquisition of alternative fuel vehicles and the acquisition of higher fuel economy vehicles. Additional strategies for petroleum reduction include an increasing vehicle load factors (accomplish the maximum amount of work with each vehicle) and a decreasing vehicle miles traveled (VMT). Drivers should be encouraged to conduct their operations efficiently and employees should be encouraged to take advantage of teleconferencing or use mass transit.
Fuel conservation techniques include:
Source: Adapted from the Federal Fleet Management Desk Reference
Copyright ©2000-2019 Geigle Safety Group, Inc. All rights reserved. Federal copyright prohibits unauthorized reproduction by any means without permission. Disclaimer: This material is for training purposes only to inform the reader of occupational safety and health best practices and general compliance requirement and is not a substitute for provisions of the OSH Act of 1970 or any governmental regulatory agency. CertiSafety is a division of Geigle Safety Group, Inc., and is not connected or affiliated with the U.S. Department of Labor (DOL), or the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA).