Preventive maintenance a top fleet priority, survey shows

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Updated Sep 21, 2011

Preventive maintenance scheduling is the top priority for the majority of fleets that use maintenance management software, according to an ongoing survey by Arsenault Associates. The survey found that 56 percent of fleets that employ maintenance software use it first and foremost to automate PM scheduling, while 42 percent are concerned primarily with administrative control of fleet assets, 36 percent with expense management and 35 percent with maintenance/repair histories for U.S. Department of Transportation purposes and to control rework.

“The importance of a good PM program performed on a timely basis is not lost on fleet managers, even as they deal with reduced operating budgets and smaller maintenance staffs,” says Charles Arsenault, chief executive officer of Arsenault Associates, providers of Dossier fleet maintenance management software, technology and consulting solutions.

However, Arsenault notes, slightly less than 44 percent of all fleets use software specifically designed for fleet maintenance. According to the survey, 16 percent use off-the-shelf software like Word, Excel or Access, while 6 percent use their company’s accounting or ERP software. A full 33 percent still use paper maintenance records if they keep records at all.

The survey is conducted by Arsenault Associates on its Website (www.arsenault.com) and comprises a series of multiple-choice questions designed to gauge the need, use and efficiency of fleet maintenance management systems in the United States. More than 200 fleet executives, managers and line staff have taken part. Arsenault has conducted similar studies for more than 20 years.

Of fleets represented in the survey, 20 percent operate over the road, while 58 percent were domiciled fleets that returned each day. More than 22 percent operate in off-road environments such as construction, landfills and other venues.

Further down the list of maintenance software priorities are tire cost control at 29 percent, as well as parts control and fuel consumption management, both at 27 percent.

“While high fuel costs are on everyone’s mind, we attribute the low ranking of fuel concerns to the fact that many fleet maintenance managers know that they can maximize the MPG only so much through good maintenance practices, and that MPG depends largely on the quality and control of the drivers over whom they have little or no control,” says Arsenault.

According to the survey, 30 percent of maintenance software users employ no other fleet technologies, but that of those that do, 28 percent use GPS/AVL systems; 25 percent use automated fuel islands; 15 percent use mobile/wireless communications systems; 13 percent use middleware that integrates their program with accounting, purchasing, payroll and others; 13 percent use automated tire pressure sensing systems; and 11 percent use automated parts ordering systems.

“Trying to manage a fleet using less technology is like settling to ‘not lose too much money,’ ” Arsenault says. “In this troubled economic environment, that just won’t do.”