March 22, 2015

Manage downtime effectively to keep drivers on the road

Vehicle downtime can disrupt schedules, delay deliveries and affect cash flow

Unplanned vehicle downtime can be a major disruption for any fleet operator, especially those with specialist service, engineer or delivery fleets, and can prove costly if not managed effectively.

For many fleets, time is money, and having vehicles off the road for any length of time can disrupt schedules, delay deliveries and, ultimately, affect cash flow and profitability.

Having a vehicle off the road for whatever reason can also be expensive in terms of replacement costs or lost business opportunities.

Both drivers and vehicles are critical to your business, particularly if they are skilled technicians or the vehicles are modified or equipped for a specific job, so unplanned vehicle off-road (VOR) time is a drain on business resources that needs to be kept to an absolute minimum.

When is VOR time planned?

Planned VOR time occurs normally within the business and would include regular interventions such as scheduled service and maintenance and ‘duty of care’ or safety inspections.

However, when vehicles are off the road due to breakdown, collisions, or any delays in service and maintenance and repair schedules, then this is unplanned.

Planned VOR time should be a known cost and planned into workflows to minimise disruption to the business.

This can have the benefit of reducing maintenance costs, minimising disruption but still maintaining high safety standards through having regularly maintained vehicles.

And vehicles that are not required elsewhere may be able to be reallocated to fill in for a vehicle which has a planned VOR time.

How to manage unplanned VOR time

Accidents and breakdowns are typically identified as the causes of most unplanned disruptions to vehicle availability and, perhaps understandably, are usually more difficult to manage.

The old adage that ‘prevention is better than a cure’ may well apply, and there are very clear benefits to the adoption of robust daily vehicle checks coupled with regular preventative maintenance, duty of care inspections and driver training.

Nipping a maintenance issue in the bud could prevent a long period of unplanned VOR at a potentially difficult time.

However, where unplanned VOR does occur, as speedy a resolution of the problem as possible is required.

CLM offers a fully integrated downtime management system that ensures proactive management of all service, maintenance and repair (SMR) events to ensure vehicle downtime is kept to an absolute minimum.

Dedicated fleet control staff proactively chase the progress of any SMR events via direct links with the garages involved.

The driver and fleet manager are kept up-to-date with regular updates by phone, text or e-mail. And because every minute matters during downtime, any issues raised or outstanding actions identified are followed up as quickly as possible.

Where repair work is required due to an accident, qualified technicians monitor repairers closely and authorise necessary work rapidly.

This expertise allows us to ensure the integrity of the repair, reduce vehicle downtime by timely completion and exercise greater control over costs. Additional support is also provided by rapid mobile support responses for tyres and glass.

What about courtesy cars?

Where the driver’s vehicle is not roadworthy for whatever reason, and where a courtesy car is not available through the repairer, we can provide an alternative vehicle, typically sourced from our daily rental operation.

This can be arranged on a like-for-like basis with vehicles delivered within two hours to ensure the minimum disruption to the driver.

Currently around 30% of our rental business is for accident replacement or mechanical breakdown cover.  However, our corporate rental arm operates a multi-supply network with all of the leading rental suppliers.

Between them they operate over 1,000 outlets in the UK, providing access to a whole range of cars and vans that meet the short term requirements of corporate customers at extremely competitive rates. So supply is never an issue.

At the same time, our fleet controllers effectively manage the amount of time that the vehicle is on hire to ensure that clients do not incur costs for any longer a period than absolutely necessary, thus providing them with complete peace of mind.

What are the benefits of downtime management?

  • Reduction in vehicle downtime
  • Cost control
  • Dedicated management team
  • Bespoke systems
  • Technical expertise
  • Appropriate and effective repairer selection
  • Convenient supply of replacement vehicles

If you would like to discuss downtime management in more detail, then please get in touch.