As manager of an HGV fleet (Heavy Goods Vehicle), one of your top priorities is to keep your vehicles on the road and performing efficiently. Vehicle downtime not only causes delays and customer dissatisfaction, but it also damages your profits and brand reputation, too. Vehicle downtime occurs for a variety of reasons, including reactive maintenance, poor driving behaviours and inefficient management processes. Often, it requires a coordinated effort from your entire team to increase your fleet uptime. By following these five proven methods, you’ll be able to take the necessary measures to maximise your HGV fleet uptime and avoid harmful vehicle downtime.
1. Choose the Right Vehicles for Your HGV Fleet
The risk of downtime increases in line with vehicle age. So, it’s important to consider replacing ageing vehicles at an appropriate time in their lifecycle. When you’re ready to replace a vehicle, revisit the needs of your fleet and where they’re likely to be in the foreseeable future. For instance; has your fleet operations grown recently or is likely to? What weight design do you need from your HGV vehicles?
Vehicle overloading is the leading cause of unscheduled maintenance for trucks. This is also an issue that can impact road safety. For instance, lorries that are loaded beyond their weight limit will have reduced braking distances should the driver need to perform an emergency stop. Overloading also leads to fuel inefficiencies and greater tyre wear.
By selecting vehicles with the right loading capacity for your operations, you can avoid issues caused by overloading and potentially minimise downtime in the process.
2. Embrace HGV Fleet Technology
Fleet management software helps you capture essential information about your fleet and stores it in a centralised system. This allows you to keep lease agreements, driver licences, insurance documentation, vehicle service history, loading capacities and maintenance records all in one system.
A fleet management tool also has built-in reporting, allowing you to access relevant information quickly. Which, can help with compliance and meeting demands from insurers.
Fleet software packages can often integrate with fleet telematics, too. This is a system capable of tracking and reporting on vehicle locations, vehicle speed, fuel usage, drivers’ hours, driving behaviour and engine diagnostics in real-time.
By embracing technology, you’re able to spot problems early on before something catastrophic happens. For example, you can tell which drivers are driving economically and safely and which are using agreed company routes – as well as those that aren’t. You can also predict breakdowns before they happen as telematics data reports diagnostic trouble (DTC) codes back to your fleet management system.
This means you can monitor the health of your HGVs from your desk, without having to rely on your drivers to report fault codes. Without telematic and other technology, you run the risk of faults going ignored or unnoticed.
3. Take a Proactive Approach to HGV Fleet Maintenance
One of the best ways to improve the uptime of your HGV fleet is to steer away from reactive vehicle maintenance and implement a preventative maintenance programme.
Why wait for a warning light to appear, if you can possibly prevent it from coming on in the first place?
The DVSA requires that drivers perform daily walk-around checks as standard, to check the general condition of their vehicle inside and out. Drivers must report any defects or problems straight away. These should be recorded appropriately and if any remedial action has been taken.
Safety inspections should be carried out at regular intervals, at least every six weeks according to the DVSA. You may want to plan additional inspections based on a vehicle’s mileage or age, too. You should use a maintenance scheduling system – included in fleet management software solutions – to forward plan and log future inspection dates.
4. Focus on Driver Development
Ideally, every driver in your HGV fleet will use driving techniques and behaviours that not only improve road safety but also increase fuel efficiency, too.
Sadly, though, this isn’t always the case.
Some of your HGV drivers will brake too harshly, over-rev the engine, break speed limits, burn through clutches and handle corners unsafely. All of these issues can contribute to vehicle wear and tear and reactive repairs, not to mention the increased risk of road accidents occurring.
Your worst performing drivers are the ones that have a high fuel spend or take unnecessary risks, leading to accidents. Closely monitor the drivers of vehicles that seem prone to frequent mechanical issues.
By educating, incentivising and even replacing bad drivers, you can avoid problems caused by poor driving techniques and increase HGV uptime.
5. Carry Out Proper Tyre Maintenance
Nearly 90% of HGV motorway breakdowns are due to poor tyre maintenance. A Bridgestone tyre debris study found a quarter of tyre failures between 2015 to 2017 were easily avoidable issues. Including factors such as tyre and vehicle maintenance.
Tyre failure can occur when a tyre is over-inflated, the tread depth is low or because of incorrect wheel alignment.
Tyre failure not only means vehicle downtime, but it can also compromise road safety. The wrong tyre pressure, for instance, can lead to a puncture. Which, in turn, can cause the driver to lose control of the vehicle and put other motorists at risk.
How Fleet Management Software Can Increase HGV Fleet Uptime
Choosing the right vehicles, adopting a preventative maintenance strategy, educating drivers and carrying out proper tyre maintenance can all contribute to an increase in your HGV fleet vehicle uptime. By implementing these measures, you can reduce the costs associated with accidents and unexpected repairs.
A fleet management system gives you a holistic view of your fleet operations and arms you with the data and insights you need to make the necessary improvements. You can track drivers, monitor vehicle health and meet your compliance obligations too.
If you decide fleet management software is for you, your next step is to compare providers and software features. Use our 5-step considerations checklist to evaluate and compare fleet management software options.