Updated 20th February 2019
In our alphabetical list of subjects related to fleet management or driving for work (which obviously started with "A"), there is surely one that is feared most by fleets of any type and size—breakdowns. The possibility of a fleet vehicle impacted by a breakdown is surely one of the least desired outcomes for fleet managers or owners, though there are still some quite avoidable errors that are responsible for their occurrence. What are these, and what actually happens when a fleet vehicle suffers a breakdown? Let’s take a look at three of them.
#1 - Maybe you cannot avoid the unavoidable, but….
Though breakdowns obviously can happen and it is very difficult to completely eliminate them, there are of course different attitudes you can adopt in order to decrease the frequency of breakdowns in a bid to move ever closer to zero occurrences. The essence of this is that you adopt a strategy that includes keeping your vehicles in the best possible shape and also considers everything possible that might not only happen while on the road but also encompasses the eventuality of a breakdown itself.
If you do not have suitable equipment for your drivers, a sound process in the event of breakdowns and you are not prepared, you will surely wind up dealing with the issue inefficiently and are more likely to compound the problem by rushing and trying to cope under needlessly stressful conditions.
#2 - The show must go on.
One of the most feared aspects of breakdowns is the impossibility of continuing with business as usual due to the difficulty of properly addressing an issue (which might reoccur if you are not prepared to tackle an underlying problem) or because of the physical absence of the vehicle or indeed any other potential problem connected to the breakdown.
Make sure you anticipate this and look into different insurance plans, as some of them do include a good replacement programme that might make your fleet better able to cope with the emergency, thus at least ensuring some peace of mind. Remember that the longer you have a vehicle off the road, the greater the impact on your business—you need to keep operational.
#3 - Prevention from any point of view.
Not only is planning for a strategy to be acted on in the event a breakdown necessary, but an anti-breakdown strategy should also be taken into account.
Its main requirements would be:
- the creation or auditing of a preventative maintenance programme
- the education of drivers on how to deal with vehicles in a way that is not alienating, but instead getting the most out of them, without implementing inefficient behaviours that could easily increase vehicle wear and tear;
- driver behaviour training that might include best practices, dangerous behaviours to be avoided (such as speeding, harsh cornering, rapid acceleration and harsh braking)
- or even challenging driving events (for example roundabouts, priorities at crossroads…) with simulations where all the driving team collects useful and practical information.