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Blog November 2023 Updated April 2024

How a Quality PM Program Impacts Fleet Costs

An effective preventive maintenance program keeps your fleet running smoothly and safely. But how do you know if your PM program needs adjustment?

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Bob Hausler

Vice President Transport, North America, AMCS

Keeping your fleet in good working order takes time and effort. From fixing faults to monitoring condition data and scheduling planned repairs, vehicle maintenance is a must.

Taking a proactive approach reduces both the uncertainty and costs and as such, carrying out regular preventive maintenance (PM) can help avoid vehicle failures, increase uptime, and even extend asset life.

But is your preventive maintenance program delivering value for money?

Counting the cost of poor PM

Inevitably there is a cost associated with any fleet downtime. For this reason, regular maintenance will always incur some costs, including parts and labour. To some extent, these costs can be mitigated through careful planning, however, when vehicles breakdown unexpectedly, costs can spiral.

Firstly, inability to complete scheduled tasks impacts the service you provide to customers. Secondly, replacing vehicles while they are repaired can be expensive and may also increase wear on other fleet assets, not to mention paying drivers for unplanned time off.

In fact, failure to carry out effective preventive maintenance can result in eye watering costs when things go wrong. Without regular, scheduled maintenance, your fleet is at greater risk of:

  • unplanned breakdowns
  • lost revenue
  • driver delays

The result? Unplanned fleet downtime can cost in excess of $500 per vehicle, per day.

How preventive maintenance impacts your CSA score

Unfortunately, that’s not the only way that poor quality preventive maintenance can cost your business. Failing to implement a thorough PM program can also increase your Compliance, Safety and Accountability (CSA) score.

Effective in the US, the CSA program is a way to hold carriers responsible for the safety of their vehicles. That means the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) stores information on your fleet including:

  • roadside inspection feedback
  • number of vehicle incidents
  • number of driver violations
  • severity of any violations or incidents

A high CSA score can increase your insurance rating, leading to higher premiums, so it’s a good idea for fleet managers to check in on their CSA score on a regular basis. If you don’t know your CSA score, or you think your maintenance schedule might leave you vulnerable to faults during roadside inspection, it’s probably time to step up your PM efforts.

Implementing a quality PM program

So how do you ensure that the preventive maintenance program you oversee is delivering results?

An absence of unplanned breakdowns is a good start, however, if part of your PM program is overlooked or short changed in any way, then you will ultimately sacrifice quality. And if you are in the habit of doing a ‘quickie’ PM, does the time saved outweigh the time lost to interim fixes and repeat work?

Well, there are some sensible questions you need to ask on a regular basis in order to run a safe, compliant and cost-effective fleet. Namely, ‘Have I set out clear standards for PM?’, ‘How do I maintain those standards?’ and ‘How can I do it better?’.

To make sure you can answer these fundamental questions, you must first establish some Key Performance Indicators (KPI) to benchmark for comparisons. Using Vehicle Maintenance Reporting Standards (VMRS) can help you monitor these indicators and establish what you are repairing between PM intervals.

This provides valuable insight into your maintenance program and can help you identify any reasons for vehicle downtime. With improved decision making around maintenance problems, you can ensure assets are fully operational and ultimately reduce the time spent on repairs.

Improving your PM with AMCS Fleet Maintenance

With intuitive tools to implement a quality preventative maintenance program and monitor fleet performance, AMCS FleetMaintenance Software helps you do just that. It can analyse your preventive maintenance program, not only enabling you to reduce maintenance costs and increase uptime, but it can even help decrease your CSA score, ultimately improving fleet safety and potentially reducing insurance costs.

That’s because AMCS Fleet Maintenance allows users to drill down and identify the exact area of PM that is failing. This might reveal a certain make, model, or year of vehicle that is not achieving your pre-set KPIs, or, perhaps more importantly, it might identify individual technicians or drivers contributing to failures.

Maybe you have one vehicle make that is in the shop between PMs more frequently than others, for example? AMCS Fleet Maintenance allows you to identify which system is failing, as well as providing the data required to file for, and successfully recover, warranty claims.

Alternatively, faced with a part that repeatedly fails prematurely, AMCS Fleet Maintenance allows you to determine if the issue is caused by part quality, incorrect installation, or driver abuse. Given that your employees are your most important asset, finding these areas of improvement gives you the ability to coach staff to improve quality, enhancing your PM program and ultimately adding profitability to your bottom line.

Indeed, whether you are establishing the true cost of cutting corners, or simply improving your existing preventive maintenance, a granular understanding of breakdowns and work undertaken in your repair shops, can help decide whether your PM program needs adjustment and where to focus your attention.

For more ideas on how to reduce fleet costs and improve productivity, take a look at how AMCS Fleet Maintenance can support your fleet.

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