Improve your management of vehicle maintenance

How wireless management technology can simplify vehicle maintenance management.


Regardless of fleet size, type and application, all fleet maintenance managers have one common objective: minimal loss of operating time. Nothing is more important than keeping vehicles running and productive. Maintaining vehicles, including repair, upkeep and downtime, has a huge impact on a fleet’s bottom line. A proactive, preventive maintenance program helps fleets keep vehicle operating costs to a minimum.

Many fleets take a reactive approach to vehicle maintenance and that can mean costly repairs and vehicle downtime, say officials with Verizon Networkfleet (www.networkfleet.com), a provider of fleet management solutions for government agencies, small- to medium-sized businesses and enterprise fleets. Fleets need to be able to monitor and collect data on the “health” of their vehicles to fix problems early and reduce costs.

There are three chief elements to reducing vehicle maintenance costs, they say.

1. Scheduled maintenance

Regularly scheduled maintenance is the most effective way to minimize vehicle downtime. Setting preventive maintenance schedules requires knowing the type of vehicle, its usage (mileage, hours and operating environment), OEM warranty, recall status, regulatory requirements, etc.

It is beneficial to know the types of diagnostic problems that typically occur with different vehicle types, note the officials.

2. Vehicle performance

Information on individual vehicle performance on the road is vital to reduce maintenance costs. Having access to statistics on vehicle diagnostics over time is also important to determine if a vehicle is performing optimally.

3. Fuel economy

Vehicles operate more efficiently when they are well-maintained. Therefore, improving vehicle performance through preventive maintenance can improve fuel economy, they say. Monitoring unauthorized vehicle use, excessive speeding, mpg and idling can also greatly reduce fuel usage.

Repairing a vehicle that needs a tune up can improve its gas mileage by an average of 4 percent, according to the U.S. DOE’s Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy. Fixing a serious maintenance problem, such as a faulty oxygen sensor, can improve mileage by as much as 40 percent.

 

TRACK AND MONITOR

Wireless vehicle management systems which merge GPS (global positioning system) technology with wireless coverage give fleets the power to access near real-time productivity and efficiency information on virtually every aspect of their fleet operations via the Internet, Verizon Networkfleet officials say.

In-vehicle devices collect and wirelessly transmit data directly from the vehicle’s engine computer and from a GPS, they explain. Fleet managers can view and monitor online, 24/7, specific vehicle performance data, such as current location, fuel consumption, mileage speed and idle-time.

Some of the systems include remote diagnostic capabilities that notify fleets via email when an exception occurs within the fleet, such as when a vehicle has exceeded a speed threshold or when a there is a diagnostic trouble code from the vehicle’s computer indicating a specific malfunction.

By identifying issues early, managers are able to proactively fix vehicle problems before they escalate into larger issues, the officials say. This keeps vehicles running and performing their functions.

Here are three examples of how fleets are using the real-time information wireless vehicle management solutions provide to cut fuel costs, improve vehicle maintenance and drive down operating costs.

 

BENFIELD ELECTRIC

Based in Aberdeen, MD, Benfield Electric provides residential and commercial electrical contracting services in five Mid-Atlantic States. Faced with unexpected spikes in operating expenses, the company needed to better manage its vehicle fleet and control costs.

It decided to install Verizon’s Networkfleet wireless fleet management system into its entire fleet of vans and light trucks because it liked that it combined vehicle diagnostic monitoring with an online GPS fleet tracking system, according to Jim Tharp, Benfield’s service manager.

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