For crane, rigging equipment, and heavy-haul owners and operators, fleet efficiency is not just a competitive advantage; it’s a necessity.
Well-maintained fleets help meet project deadlines, ensure safety, and boost profitability.
However, what often goes unnoticed is the pivotal role of preventive maintenance (PM) in minimizing downtime and reducing costs.
In recent years, a diligent PM regimen has effectively slashed downtime by half for AWP Safety’s extensive fleet of traffic control vehicles and equipment.
Supported by comprehensive driver training and advanced fleet management technologies, AWP has further streamlined its operations through nationwide service contracts that ensure thorough maintenance is performed by certified technicians.
Likewise, crane and rigging companies can improve fleet efficiency through a combination of preventive practices, such as developing a comprehensive plan, empowering vehicle operators, leveraging digital tools, and establishing affiliations with qualified mechanics.
The PM Plan
At the core of fleet efficiency lies a well-crafted PM plan that serves as the backbone of a fleet’s health and reduces unexpected downtime.
It’s not just about fixing issues as they arise but proactively identifying and addressing potential problems.
Steps for developing an effective plan:
1. Assessment: Begin by carefully documenting each vehicle’s condition, including its maintenance history, usage patterns and critical components. This data will help prioritize maintenance efforts later on.
2. Decision Making: Use data analytics to track maintenance trends, identify patterns of wear and tear, and predict maintenance needs. The market offers an array of advanced telematics solutions providing real-time, cloud-based data views that increase job planning efficiency and allow remote troubleshooting.
3. Documentation: Keep detailed records of all maintenance, whether they are based on usage, mileage, or operating hours. This documentation helps in tracking expenses, identifying recurring issues, and ensuring compliance with industry regulations.
As the first line of defense against potential issues, vehicle operators play a pivotal role in fleet efficiency.
Operators should receive comprehensive training on vehicle handling, inspection, and maintenance, as it can affect fleet performance significantly.
1. Safety Culture: Promote a safety-first culture among operators. Encourage them to report any issues promptly and reward safe operating practices. Individuals who are well-versed in the set up and maintenance of their equipment are also more likely to spot potential problems early.
2. Communication: Foster open lines of communication between operators and maintenance teams. Operators should feel comfortable reporting any unusual sounds, vibrations, or other irregularities they encounter while on the road.
3. Empowerment: Empower operators to take ownership of their vehicles by conducting inspections and addressing minor issues promptly. Routine check-ups on crucial components such as brakes, tires, hydraulics, and electrical systems can prevent small problems from escalating.
Importantly, a Driver Vehicle Inspection Report (DVIR) should be completed daily for any commercial vehicle in operation.
As specified by Federal Law 49 CFR 396.11 and 396.13 and enforced by the United States Department of Transportation (DOT) and Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA), the DVIR aims to reduce the number of crashes, injuries, and fatalities related to poor vehicle maintenance.
Technology can also significantly improve maintenance oversight.
AWP has raised the bar for fleet efficiency by using Derive VQ efficiency technology that allows precise speed control and fine-tuning of automatic transmission settings to optimize fuel consumption.
As a result, vehicles consistently operate within the manufacturer’s recommended limits, leading to improved fuel efficiency and a reduced risk of premature wear and tear.
Moreover, fleet efficiency can experience substantial improvements through the use of other technologies, including predictive analytics to anticipate potential component failures, GPS and asset-tracking solutions that enable continuous monitoring of fleet locations and status, as well as advanced driver assistance systems (ADAS) whose lane-keeping and collision-avoidance technology reduce the risk of accidents.
To ensure meticulous maintenance for work trucks, businesses should also consider partnering with trusted service providers under full-service contracts.
Those contracts offer consistent quality and comprehensive oversight through standardized maintenance protocols and technician training.
This proactive approach allows efficient scheduling, thus reducing downtime and operational costs.
It also often enables a fleet owner to negotiate better pricing for the services because the provider knows it will see a predictable volume of work.
That can save significant expense, compared to the variable pricing typical of a quick-service facility, for instance.
Creating an all-encompassing PM strategy is essential for fleets striving to optimize efficiency.
It involves setting up a comprehensive timetable, regularly performing and documenting inspections, training operators, leveraging technology, and forming partnerships with reliable full-service providers.
Collectively, those measures can help ensure the seamless operation of all types of hardworking vehicles and equipment.