Plant and equipment manager always face this herculean task of keeping the fleet in top order. The fleet should be ready to take up any tedious tasks at ease without any kind of vehicle/equipment break down. For this the challenge is to keep fleet age below 5 years. They are also under the pressure of using the budget optimally. Maintenance of old vehicles and purchase of new machinery are very expensive affair. Hence, planning in advance will help maintain proper productivity and keeping the fleet in good condition. A quarterly plan or even a monthly plan is required to assess the vehicle condition and their replacement.
The plant and equipment division usually plan to dispose aged or underutilized vehicles/machineries in a phased manner. They keep replacing old vehicles/machines pretty regularly to keep the fleet in top order. Procuring new vehicles is always an expensive affair hence, the budget allocated is always well thought and a formalized event. Hence, fleet replacement is always a slow and meticulous affair. Sometimes due to ageing of fleet, machines come under excessive repair and budget cannot absorb the necessary capital investment. In such cases also going for new fleet becomes unavoidable.
However, it sometimes becomes a daunting task to maintain and manage machine performance. Forecasting in advance that a machine might come under repair or the life of machine is up becomes the key. For this recording machine data and machine performance is inevitable. Machine information can be recorded in computer or even in hard copies to review periodically for evaluation. The data inputs can be transferred to digital spreadsheets and reports to be generated on a periodically basis for review and evaluation. With today’s advancement in technology data can be imported to fleet-management software and reports and be generated accordingly. Determining the repair and replacement well in advance helps the management to plan the budget accordingly.
As equipment-management is a universal factor, very few organizations bring them into practice. Moreover now that tracking and assessing machine performance is easier with technology it is disturbing to note this. Logical analysis is a key factor and should be practiced methodically. All organizations should follow the below mentioned practices for an efficient management of fleet.
Apply the information procured on machines/fleet judiciously. Take the people in-charge of operations in loop to understand the ground realities. All key stake holders must be given proper and key inputs about the vehicle. Flow of information should be perfect right from the accountant to senior management to help them take fast and judicious decisions.
To manage the fleet properly, management should take prompt and judicious decisions on capital investments. Senior management must calculate the residual costs, owning and operating costs, understand key financial metrics, understand the ground realities in terms of machine efficiency and productivity. Getting involved and understanding will certainly add value in better fleet management.
Assessing the other available options can also help in better fleet management. For example outsourcing the maintenance and repair to a third party can help to a larger extent. Other options like equipment rentals can be evaluated in case there is an exigency to be met. Approaching dealers for equipment can also be a viable option, these days it is a widely accepted norm and large construction houses are heavily engaged with dealers to bring up their network.
It’s all about understanding technology and machine data. Organizations must find ways and means to effectively use these inputs. Applying technology to maintenance and repair management is another key factor in better fleet management. Outsourced 3rd party engaged in maintenance must comply with proper reporting structure.
Technology advancement has changed the way earthmoving and construction projects are bid and executed. Better understanding on machine controlled projects has changed the dimensions of earthmoving projects. Integrated machine data and information available has enhanced the capability of bidders in managing their resources. Fleets today are better managed with the information available on maintenance and repairs. To sustain long term viability today fleets must keep close eye on repair costs and fleet age. An ideal fleet-replacement plan should also be there. Better management of capital assets ensures better productivity and profitability.