How fleet software can make preventative maintenance truly proactive.
Proper equipment maintenance is just as important for landscaping fleets as proper vehicle maintenance. Without a comprehensive maintenance strategy in place for equipment, landscaping companies can experience increased expenses in downtime, repair, and replacement costs.
Equipment Maintenance Strategies
In order to do their job, your crew needs safe, operational, and reliable equipment. Being proactive with maintenance is the best way to ensure these criteria are met, and you can do that by creating a thorough maintenance strategy.
Leveraging fleet management software (FMS) to implement and monitor your equipment maintenance strategy helps improve uptime through real-time asset monitoring and service workflow automation. FMS allows you to create either individual preventive maintenance (PM) schedules and/or bulk service programs for your equipment—with each asset maintained according to utilization, OEM specification, equipment type, or other criteria you dictate. Additionally, FMS automates maintenance workflows to maximize equipment lifespan, monitor expenses, and improve uptime.
Take the case of ProQual Landscaping in Tempe, AZ: an operation that began with 10 trucks rapidly grew to over 85 various assets. With over $1 million in asset value, ProQual Landscaping’s fleet is its largest asset. From trucks, vans, tractors, and every piece of equipment in between, the company had outgrown the use of complex spreadsheets and needed to create a more proactive process. The company also decided it was best to bring its maintenance in-house. By utilizing FMS, “[It] allowed us to create proactive maintenance plans that saved us 33% in the first half of the year versus the first half of the previous year,” says Jeremy Bader, implementation manager at ProQual Landscaping.
Here are a few ways software can make landscaping equipment maintenance more proactive.
- Create Service Reminders Based on Equipment Utilization
- Conduct Routine Inspections to Uncover Issues
- Seamlessly Collaborate With Your Team to Resolve Issues
- Track Maintenance Progress With Detailed Work Orders
- Monitor Maintenance Expenses and Total Cost of Ownership
With so much landscaping equipment to keep track of, you may not know when something is broken until your crew is already on a job. Instead of being forced to react quickly to either get a replacement tool to a jobsite or hastily make repairs, PM schedules allow you to monitor equipment health more consistently and avoid unnecessary—and expensive—downtime.
With FMS, you can set customizable PM schedules for all your equipment and use service reminders to notify you and the team of upcoming maintenance. This allows maintenance to be scheduled during off-hours or between jobs.
In the past, some of ProQual Landscaping’s take home vehicles would return with a variety of service lights on. With FMS, the company can now address the issue quickly and have the vehicle back up in hours instead of potentially putting it out for weeks. “It takes the guessing game out of maintenance. Everyone knows when a vehicle will be out for service and everyone knows when it’s supposed to be back,” comments Bader.
Most landscaping manufacturers make maintenance recommendations based on usage. FMS automatically tracks utilization by pulling in real-time information using data integrations with telematics providers. It then sends notifications based on “due-soon” thresholds you set. You can also standardize service reminders across equipment types with service programs, saving you even more time.
Like pre- or post-trip and daily inspections on fleet vehicles, having your team perform brief daily equipment inspections helps uncover any underlying issues that need addressing. Custom digital inspection forms, including daily vehicle inspection reports, is a key advantage to ProQual. Prior to implementing FMS, the company spent too much time on repairs and experienced high vehicle downtime. The forms now empower the company to set up unique maintenance schedules for each type of asset, while streamlining the maintenance process.
When there is an issue with a piece of equipment, that issue also needs to be communicated quickly to decision makers so a solution can be put forward. Because your team is often acting as your eyes and ears in the field, FMS with an accompanying mobile app is a great way to stay connected to them, communicate tasks, and receive updates submitted in real time. When a piece of equipment fails inspection, you’ll receive instant notification so you can make informed decisions and quickly schedule maintenance.
At ProQual, the company not only focuses on the functionality of its assets but also on their aesthetics. Since they operate within HOAs, the assets are extremely visible, and the company makes sure its fleet and equipment are always displayed at the highest standard. Using an FMS’s mobile app, operators can take photos of a truck, for instance, and upload them immediately for review. This has been extremely helpful in assisting the maintenance department to determine if body work is required or if a vehicle’s vinyl wrap has been damaged.
Even if your company leverages a third- party vendor to conduct maintenance on certain vehicles or equipment, FMS streamlines communication with those vendors. It allows you to approve service quickly and track repair progress without playing phone tag.
You can also subscribe to equipment issues in your FMS and receive push notifications to alert you of all updates surrounding the issue. Monitoring issue statuses gives you a clear idea of when repairs will be completed and equipment ready so you can respond accordingly and limit downtime.
Digital Work Orders
Even with routine PM, issues pop up. Tracking repair progress in real time and monitoring parts and expenses manually with paper or on spreadsheets can be difficult to sustain. These methods don’t have the functionality to combine and analyze data.
With FMS, you can create and track digital work orders to communicate issues to technicians, whether they’re in-house or third-party providers. FMS automates workflows and gives you a comprehensive view of repairs from start to finish, and all work order information is stored and consolidated with the rest of your fleet data automatically.
Digital work orders allow you to track service down to the line item to ensure repairs are made on time and on budget. Communicating needs clearly through work orders keeps you and technicians on the same page to improve service times and avoid surprise line items. And with all data automatically collected in the FMS, you can pull maintenance reports by type, operator, and more.
Monitor Service Expenses
Maintenance is one of the largest ongoing expenses for landscaping fleets. Being proactive with equipment maintenance is the best way to lengthen equipment lifespans, shorten ROIs, and avoid downtime. By creating a proactive maintenance strategy, you can monitor service expenses and help avoid costly replacements.
Managing maintenance in a cloud-based FMS automates expense tracking and gives you an accurate look at equipment operating costs. With configurable reports, you can view real-time expense reports, monitor maintenance trends, and make informed decisions to improve your bottom line.
Plant is a content marketing specialist for Fleetio, a fleet management software that helps organizations track, analyze, and improve their fleet operations. For more information, visit fleetio.com.