By Tom Callahan, President, Donlen Corporation
A fleet’s operating costs are impacted by vehicle breakdowns, trips to repair vendors, and down time. Fleet vehicles adhering to a preventative maintenance (PM) schedule reduces the number of unscheduled maintenance events and helps keep those costs down.
With maintenance costs being the second highest vehicle expense category for fleet departments, high PM compliance naturally translates into tangible bottom line improvements.
The challenge is that fleet vehicles frequently deviate from on-time PM, as fleet drivers typically need to find room in their already busy work schedule to bring their vehicle into a shop. Historically, fleet managers relied on their drivers following static service intervals to meet maintenance requirements, but the reality is that following static intervals has a limited impact on reducing the over- or under-maintenance of a vehicle. This is where leveraging technology can help drive maintenance savings for your fleet.
Drivers don’t need to think about when to bring a vehicle in for service when technology, such as Donlen’s eCoupon, alerts them exactly when to do so. Donlen’s new eCoupon continuously screens the maintenance history of a fleet vehicle and then automatically resets the counter after a PM service is performed. Only when a vehicle reaches the next service interval (based on days or miles), will an eCoupon email be sent to the driver. In addition, the eCoupon will only list those services that are actually due based on the vehicle’s maintenance history.
When we first piloted the eCoupon with a large utility customer, we compared the results of a typical statically-timed service interval with the results of an eCoupon program where their drivers were notified electronically when it was actually time for their vehicles to be serviced. Donlen’s new PM technology allowed the utility company to configure their eCoupons to their specific fleet parameters. With multiple Smart Send Functionality parameters set to the company’s requirements, they improved PM compliance by nearly four percent. In addition, their drivers received recommendations to take their vehicles to approved national account vendors, where they were charged reduced rates, lowering PM spend by 6.57 percent. Using this technology, they reduced the days that vehicles were overdue for PM by 32.79 percent.
At Donlen, we are all too aware that staying on top of the PM schedule of a fleet vehicle is not always front and center on a driver’s mind. Drivers use the fleet vehicle primarily to get their job-specific duties done. At the same time, there are true costs associated with not maintaining a vehicle properly. Those costs can range from lower impact costs such as reduced MPG as a result of lower tire pressure, all the way to high impact costs such as engine lockdowns as a result of missed oil change services.
Traditional maintenance programs have challenges providing drivers with notifications to alert them of service requirements in a way that is efficient and effective. New developments in technology like our eCoupon service give fleet managers the ability to send service notifications straight to their drivers when their vehicles are due for service. When drivers are armed with that information anywhere they go, you reduce the number of overdue vehicles and help improve your fleet’s overall preventative maintenance compliance rates.
With these advancements we’ve seen reductions in overall fleet maintenance spend up to 7 percent. Are you using technology to maximize the PM compliance of your fleet?
We are at a unique point in the fleet industry’s history. There is more cost-saving technology available to fleet managers than ever before, and further enhancements are being developed continuously. If you are not using technology, you and your fleet are missing out on maintenance savings opportunities. Besides the financial benefits, drivers benefit as well by being just a little less distracted, enabling them to focus on their work and get more done.