The continuing growth of e-commerce, combined with more people staying at home due to the COVID-19 pandemic, has led to an increased demand for delivery services. Managing a small delivery fleet is challenging, especially when it comes to maintaining your delivery vehicles in tip-top condition. It takes time and effort but is made easier when you follow the advice listed here.
Table of Contents
Why Delivery Fleet Maintenance is Important
Maintaining your fleet in good working condition is essential to your delivery operations. There are several reasons why it’s crucial to manage fleet maintenance properly.
First, a poorly maintained vehicle is an unsafe vehicle. An accident caused by poor maintenance will not only cost you in terms of repairs, but it could also involve a driver or third-party injuries and corresponding lawsuits.
Second, regular maintenance keeps your delivery vehicles on the road. A poorly maintained vehicle is more apt to break down or require lengthy repairs. According to Element Fleet, this type of vehicle downtime can cost you more than $700 per day, measured in terms of driver’s salary and lost profits. Third, repairs can be costly. When poor maintenance results in otherwise unnecessary repairs, it costs you money. Better to spend a little money on maintenance costs now than a lot of money for repairs later.
Finally, a well-maintained vehicle is a more efficient vehicle. Poor maintenance can result in poor performance and a deteriorating fuel economy. Consider the simple act of keeping tires inflated. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, improperly inflated tires on a vehicle can cost up to 11 cents per gallon. Add that up across your entire fleet over time, and you see how important even the small details can be.
6 Tips for Managing Your Delivery Fleet Maintenance
How can you ensure that your company’s delivery fleet is in good condition and operating at 100% efficiency and reduce operating expenses? Here are a half-dozen tips for maintaining your fleet vehicles.
1. Schedule Routine Maintenance in Advance
The easiest way to ensure that your fleet vehicles are receiving proper maintenance is to schedule all routine maintenance in advance. It’s relatively easy for your fleet maintenance manager or fleet manager to use an online or software-based calendar program to schedule routine maintenance for each vehicle. Estimate the number of miles driven each day, then follow manufacture recommendations for things like oil changes and tire rotation. Set alerts for the week before each maintenance is due so you can schedule time in the garage.
2. Establish a Smart Maintenance Program
You can go beyond routine scheduled maintenance by using a fleet tracking system to alert you precisely when maintenance is necessary, based on real-world operating conditions. Telematics software in each vehicle can monitor key operating parameters – engine temperature, oil pressure, fluid levels, and the like – and alert you when certain limits are exceeded. This lets you perform maintenance when needed, not before or after.
3. Partner with a Fleet Management Company for Maintenance
If you don’t have the staff to handle vehicle maintenance, consider using a fleet management company to maintain fleet vehicles. Delivery fleet management companies have the staff, experience, and connections with garages and repair companies to provide regular maintenance and repairs – for a fee, of course. Having one of these companies handle all your fleet’s maintenance can take a big load off your mind and free you up to do more important work.
4. Make Your Drivers Responsible
A large part of vehicle maintenance is simply paying attention to the conditions of your vehicles. This is something that can easily be assigned to your drivers in the form of a daily vehicle walk-around. Make it part of the drivers’ jobs to:
- Check tires for proper pressure
- Monitor tires for tread wear
- Check oil, transmission fluid, washer fluid, and other levels
- Check the condition of wiper blades
- Make sure the vehicle is fueled up and that the gas cap is tightly sealed (or, in the case of electric vehicles, make sure it’s plugged in and charged)
- Check under the vehicle for leaks
- Ensure that all exterior lights, including brake lights, are working
- Make sure the doors and windows are properly operating
- Check the vehicle’s body for any new dents or dings
If your drivers go through this daily checklist and report any issues to their manager, you’ll be able to nip a lot of burgeoning problems in the bud.
5. Teach Responsible Driving
Speaking of your drivers, how hard they drive your vehicles can affect the need for maintenance. Drivers should go to proper training to learn safe and responsible driving techniques. Minimizing aggressive acceleration and braking will reduce wear and tear on your vehicles and help them avoid accidents and traffic tickets.
6. Embrace Optimized Route Planning
The fewer miles your vehicles have to drive, the less maintenance they’ll need and the longer they’ll last. One of the most effective ways to reduce miles driven is to optimize your drivers’ routes and increase driver productivity. You can do this manually by planning routes with Google Maps or automatically with route planning software.
Route planning apps, such as Upper Route Planner, automate the creation of efficient delivery routes for all your vehicles. This reduces driver time on the road, fuel consumption, wear and tear on your vehicles, and the need for vehicle maintenance. All in all, route planning software is one of the most cost-effective investments you can make in your delivery operations.
Proper Delivery Fleet Maintenance Will Save You Big
Your delivery fleet is one of your biggest assets, and without adequate, routine maintenance, you could be flushing your profits down the drain. Take the time to schedule regular maintenance and have the best applications to help your delivery drivers make the smartest, most efficient decisions possible.