The Importance of Sound Fleet Storage Practices

Fleets focused on cost-efficiencies of equipment investments should not overlook the capital and environmental costs of improperly stored fleet vehicles


Many fleets – both public and private – unknowingly undermine the usefulness of their vehicles or cost themselves thousands in unnecessary repairs because of improperly stored vehicles. An improperly stored fleet vehicle is typically in an exposed area that is not intended or designed for heavy equipment or vehicle storage.

Vehicles stored in exposed areas may be exposed to harsh seasonal conditions, accelerating weather-related deterioration and reducing the life expectancy of multi-million dollar equipment investments.

Oftentimes, the maintenance of vehicles stored in exposed areas also takes place out-of-doors, potentially compromising staff safety and the surrounding environment.

A best management practice for fleet maintenance management is indoor/protected vehicle storage that is specifically designed for such a task. Such indoor/protected vehicle storage provides safe, long-term cost-efficiencies and benefits in seven main areas.

1. PUBLIC SAFETY

Vehicles and equipment used for emergency response purposes, such as responding to snow and ice storms, water main breaks, sewer pump failures and fallen trees, are temperature sensitive. If stored outdoors during the cold weather months, they may be subject to starting problems or damage that could delay response time during an emergency. This can result in unsafe conditions for the public.

Because vehicles and equipment stored outdoors may experience problems starting up, employees and first-responders may be required to waste valuable time warming up vehicles and cleaning off snow, ice or debris prior to responding to an emergency situation.

2. EMPLOYEE SAFETY

For fleets with motorized equipment and non-motorized towed equipment or equipment attachments, storage of the larger vehicles outdoors during inclement weather may require an employee to climb around the exterior of the vehicle to clean off and prepare the vehicle for use. This exposes the employee to unnecessary risks associated with slipping or falling from the large equipment.

In addition, employees must also access and connect smaller non-motorized equipment attachments, such as plows, mower attachments, towed compressors, etc., that may also pose risks when conducted in inclement weather or in areas with inadequate lighting.

3. COST SAVINGS

Cost/benefit analysis identify the most cost-effective, efficient and safe storage of fleet vehicles and equipment based on a comparison of the cost to construct, maintain and operate a new storage garage versus the additional costs incurred by storing vehicles outdoors (increased maintenance, reduced vehicle life expectancy and non-productive labor for vehicle preparation). The data show that the cost to store vehicles and equipment outdoors over the life of the building will cost approximately three times the cost to construct, operate and maintain a new vehicle/equipment storage garage.

For example, for a fleet with 60 vehicles, the cost to construct, maintain and operate a new +/- 41,000-square-foot storage garage over a 50-year anticipated life span is calculated at $13 million. The cost to store vehicles outdoors over the same time period is approximately $38 million, not including the costs associated with:

  • Potential injuries to the public due to unsafe conditions resulting from inclement weather and/or delayed response times.
  • Impacts to abutters.
  • Property damage or infrastructure damage resulting from delayed response times to emergencies, such as water main breaks or sewerage system blockages.

4. EFFICIENT AND COST EFFECTIVE OPERATIONS

An analysis of fleet management practices shows that on any given day, 95 percent of fleet vehicles should be in working order to achieve operating efficiencies. Storing vehicles and equipment in a minimally heated and well-lit storage garage results in efficient operations by providing an environment that is conducive to both vehicles and the employees.

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