Unnecessary downtime eats the bottom line

Published in the September 2019 issue of Fleet Affiliation

Truck downtime is an expensive cost for any fleet organization. Whether a for-profit commercial fleet, a municipal government, or an enterprise fleet, downtime costs lost labor-hour and equipment productivity. Furthermore, excessive downtime can be viewed as an indicator that a fleet may not be managed to its full potential. Management sometimes has bottom-line tunnel vision. Several situations that fleet professionals cannot control could increase unnecessary downtime. Fleets have expressed that aging fleet with reduced capital funding is a leading cause for extended downtime. Others have indicated a shortage of available technicians results in backlogs or increased costly outsourced repairs. While this situation cannot be solved in a short amount of time, there is opportunity to showcase life cycle cost forecasting, and how it correlates with deferred replacement and maintenance. Looking at solutions within the realm of control can be a tool to bolster the bottom line and decrease downtime.

Make sure it’s road worthy
A critical given for any fleet — ensure vehicles are road worthy, right? According to an August 2019 Heavy Duty Trucking magazine article, the Commercial Vehicle Safety Alliance’s International Roadcheck performed over 67,000 inspections during a three-day period in June 2019. Nearly 18% of vehicles inspected were placed out of service. Having a truck that meets all Federal and Canadian regulations (if applicable) not only closes an organization’s risk exposure, it can prevent a costly roadside out-of-service situation. Additionally, educating drivers of their duty for pre-trip inspections and proper cargo securement should be done to avoid unnecessary violations and roadside downtime. 

More on risk
Risk management and mitigation begins with providing safe vehicles to operators. Regardless of how diligently maintenance and repairs are performed, having a properly designed and maintained vehicle specific for the task holds great importance. Sending vehicles out that are not properly designed or maintained may unknowingly be increasing your organization’s risk exposure.

Seasonal changes – adjusting the perspective
All preventative maintenance is important. However, the seasons are beginning to change, meaning fleets may want to give attention to equipment susceptible to climate change. Notable items include airbrake dryers and other components that build up moisture and are then vulnerable to freezing temperatures. Other items that should be checked include electrical components such as batteries and wiring harnesses – both may be moisture susceptible. This may also be an opportunity to look at historical failure rates of components. Using some predicative maintenance practices (i.e., replacing items known to show wear or fail during scheduled maintenance) is much more cost effective than a roadside breakdown. Taking basic precautions and reiterating some common sense practices can reduce unnecessary downtime and increase the bottom line.

If you would like to discuss this, or other fleet issues with NTEA, contact Chris Lyon, NTEA director of fleet relations.