As 2022 comes to a close, the supply chains have experienced some relief, with port congestion finally clearing up significantly. But all’s not as well as it seems. This clean-up comes due to a demand drop as consumers battle inflation and rising prices worldwide. As if stuck in a vicious cycle, trucking rates have dropped, with spot rates falling 40% from what they were in 2021. The logistics industry is dealing with an excess of containers as demand falls, despite the holiday season.
In parallel, there is also a labor shortage that businesses have to deal with, as evidenced by the 3.4 million fewer workers in July 2022 than in February 2020. With 5.5 million more job openings than workers available, the US labor force participation rate has dropped significantly since pre-COVID-19. All these factors, especially the labor shortage, have the potential to impact fleet businesses adversely. Especially the smaller fleets are likely to be hit by negative revenue growth when labor is in short supply.
To put it into perspective, according to the US Department of Transportation, as of June 2022, the number of for-hire carriers on file with the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration totaled 1,102,799, with 718,594 private carriers and 153,191 carriers identified as both for-hire and private carriers, while other interstate motor carriers totaled 37,718. Among these, 95.7% of companies operate 10 or fewer trucks, and 99.7% employ fewer than 100 trucks. With such small fleets, a lack of dependable drivers and workers can be detrimental to growth and success.
How Can Smaller Fleets Gain A Business Edge?
Small fleets and fleets with a small workforce frequently need more work and more hours in the day. Regarding data retrievals and maintenance-related duties, such as ordering components or keeping track of vehicle health, relying on manual data entry and paper-based solutions can take a lot of time and kill productivity.
Fleet owners and managers can instead depend on digital tools and automated systems to fine-tune their processes and streamline operations. Not only does maintenance automation help fleet owners better track their tasks and keep a handle on processes but allows them to gain deep insights into business problems through data analytics.
How Can Small Fleets Leverage Maintenance Automation?
Utilizing a fleet management or maintenance solution like Fleetpal can help fleet owners in several ways. Fleet managers can leverage preventive and predictive maintenance to reduce downtime and dwell and manage expenditures, all through one platform.
Fleet managers already feel the advantages of maintenance automation using fleet management software (FMS). Fleet owners have experienced how manual processes are archaic, difficult to interpret, and not very user-friendly. Stakeholders must stop what they are doing and attend meetings so that everyone can be on the same page to view and obtain the data needed. It is also a challenge to keep track of data in real-time, as there is a definite lag when manual or traditional tracking processes are used by fleets.
But thanks to fleet maintenance systems like Fleetpal, fleet owners and managers can now just look at a report or a dashboard to find out what vehicles have completed maintenance, which ones need extra work, etc. Automating fleets allows fleet owners and managers to access all the relevant data, records, history, and work orders on one system, making communication more seamless and accurate.
In fact, through 2032, it is anticipated that the adoption of fleet management technologies will increase by almost 14.5%. Adopting asset monitoring systems, driver management systems, and vehicle tracking systems helps transportation companies follow the state of their assets from procurement through delivery success. Additionally, it is anticipated that the industry will use fleet management solutions more frequently due to their capacity to help transporters reduce costs and maintain the fleet of trucks.
How Does Maintenance Automation Benefit Small Fleet Operations?
1. Managing Time More Efficiently
Automating processes and systems allows fleet managers and owners to keep track of various tasks simultaneously. It helps streamline daily tasks, giving more time back to fleet owners for other tasks. Drivers and operators can enter vehicle information in real time with digital inspections through special apps connected to a fleet management or maintenance system. In such a case, a failed item or entry can notify and alert stakeholders to work on repairs.
Directly following an issue, fleet managers may schedule service and create digital work orders. The system automatically logs all relevant information for accurate service records, including labor and parts costs. As parts are added to work orders, the inventory count will be updated automatically if you have a stock of spare parts. Fleet owners can also stay ahead of maintenance and schedule preventive and predictive maintenance, anticipating possible problems with specific vehicles in their fleet.
By enabling fleet owners to define preventive maintenance (PM) plans — either by individual vehicle or in bulk — and personalize those schedules based on OEM (original equipment manufacturer) guidelines, mileage, vehicle age, or any other factors particular to your assets, maintenance automation helps develop proactive maintenance habits. To ensure that your vehicles never go without maintenance, you can also establish reminders for planned services to be emailed to technicians and drivers!
As a result, fleet owners can balance their time more effectively and focus on growing business instead of micro-managing essential tasks.
2. Increased Productivity
As tasks are automatically scheduled and ticked off, productivity will likely improve, especially when small fleets operate with fewer people handling more work. Maintenance automation can digitize inspections, allowing drivers to submit maintenance issues and highlight problems in real time. Drivers can also access inspections from anywhere via fleet maintenance system apps. Fleet owners can also get pictures and comments about failed inspections so that parts can be acquired speedily. Technicians can easily log in and out of projects and leave comments about the work they’ve completed using digital work orders.
Any impending service information for the vehicle in question is automatically retrieved via digital work orders so fleet managers can add those services to the current project to minimize downtime. Not only will this help fleets reduce hourly maintenance expenses, but it will also help with decreased inspection time and increased accuracy with route fulfillment.
3. Getting A Competitive Edge
For small fleets, every little expenditure matters. Fleet owners need to know the TCO (total cost of ownership) of all their assets to increase revenues. But keeping track of and calculating your TCO can be a chore. Each vehicle’s total cost of ownership (TCO) considers all expenses, including down payments, loans, leases, interest, gasoline or diesel, insurance, registration, depreciation, maintenance, taxes, and more.
Fleet management and maintenance solutions like Fleetpal perform an automatic TCO calculation for each vehicle so you may spot and address areas of spending excess, choose the best replacement windows, and increase asset ROI. Fleetpal’s customizable TCO Monitoring Program allows you to take the guesswork out of TCO and get accurate information every time.
Fleets of all sizes can use fleet management and maintenance to acquire comprehensive insights into the condition and operations of their fleet. An FMS makes it simple to get crucial fleet reports like TCO, vehicle downtime, repair history, and more through automated data gathering and consolidation. Automated workflows increase productivity in the office, on the road, and even in the shop. Additionally, fleet owners can access vital information quickly and without wasting valuable time, thanks to real-time updates to easily readable data on a customized dashboard. Are you interested in finding out how Fleetpal can help you stack up against the competition? Begin your free trial today!