Vehicle downtime is always a major worry for fleet managers as it invariable incurs cost. It is often underestimated by many people who just look at downtime as the period of time in which a vehicle is not operating, without fully considering all the factors involved.
Vehicle downtime can be planned or unplanned
Planned downtime happens when activity in a company slows down (it could be at Christmas time, for instance, or, depending on the company’s sector, during other specific periods of the year).
Fleet managers and operation managers often capitalise on this time to schedule in servicing, refresher training, vehicle inspections and so on. Planned downtime could also provide a perfect opportunity, if you have not already thought about it, for your company to implement the latest technology!
Unplanned downtime would refer to the period that vehicles spend off the road due to incidents such as breakdowns, collisions, or a delay in service/maintenance and repair schedules.
Planned downtime is easier to manage, for obvious reasons, while unplanned downtime is seen as much more difficult to manage.
When vehicles are down for unpredictable reasons, such as accidents or breakdowns, companies do not just incur costs related to vehicle repairing; this is just the tip of the iceberg. There are also costs which are not directly related to the problem, but still arise from vehicle downtime: employee inactivity due to accident or trauma for example, or idle staff hours; the loss of business revenue, and the costs of replacing a vehicle, temporarily or permanently, to mention just a few.
Although it is impossible to completely eliminate the costs of downtime (as accidents or breakdowns are virtually inevitable), you can find ways to minimise the impact. Technology can provide just such a method, as most fleet tracking software systems can set alerts for maintenance schedules, safety inspections, tests, and record incidents such as breakdowns.
Often, accidents and breakdowns occur when daily vehicle checks are not correctly adhered to, the same can be said for preventative maintenance, duty of care inspections and driver training schedules. Nipping a maintenance issue in the bud could prevent a long period of unplanned downtime occurring at a potentially very inconvenient time. And an effective, good driver training program often leads to reduced incidents and less wear and tear which, in turn, demonstrably reduces downtime in the long term.