Flashback to the summer of 2009: It was arguably the worst of the recent economic recession, with automakers Chrysler and General Motors having entered into Chapter 11 bankruptcy. In order to give the economy a little shot in the arm – as well as help out drivers and automakers – the federal government launched the CARS, or “Cash for Clunkers” program, where Americans could turn in old beat up, inefficient vehicles (hence, “clunkers”) for a rebate they could put toward a new, more eco-friendly vehicle. The program was a success – over 690,000 vehicles were turned in nationwide during the program, and about the same number was purchased.
Don’t let the success of Cash for Clunkers fool you into thinking that every American and business that had a “clunker” type car turned their vehicle in. In fact, today the average citizen keeps their car for up to 11 years, putting in the necessary repairs and maintenance, simply because purchasing a new one is more of a pipe dream than an achievable goal.
For comparison’s sake, consider that Americans hung onto their vehicles for an average of just over eight years in 1995. The obvious problem is that the longer you hold onto a vehicle, especially if it’s over a decade, the more likely you are to see downtime to get necessary repairs and maintenance completed. Some of this is simple – an oil change costs less than $30 and takes less than 30 minutes. But bigger repairs, such as strut replacement, can add up to nearly $1,000, while taking your car out of commission for hours. This down time may not be a problem for the average American driver, but it can be a huge problem for a distribution company that relies on a fleet of vehicles to conduct business day in and day out. Downtime can mean a loss in productivity, which can mean decreased efficiency, which can ultimately lead to unhappy customers.
With oil changes, repairs and other scheduled and unscheduled maintenance (oh my!) seemingly always popping up, how do people in the trucking industry go about making sure that everything is done on time so problems are solved before they even begin? That’s where fleet management software saves them time and money by keeping trucks on the road. In addition to tracking driver location via GPS, fleet management software can also help keep them in check with maintenance.
Here are some benefits to a fleet management software maintenance program:
- Real-time notification: If a fault is triggered or sensed, the software documents it. Diagnostic information is recorded by the hour, so if there’s any abnormalities or something isn’t working properly, the software is on it. Common problems include engine fault codes and other diagnostic checks.
- Integration: These faults alert you via e-mail or through an integrated web services program.
- Allows you to take action: Typically when we sense something might be wrong with our vehicles, we drive them for a little bit longer until the possible minor issue turns into a huge issue. With fleet management maintenance, the errors that are recorded prompt you to take action quickly, before small problems evolve into big, expensive ones.
- Routine maintenance: Aside from things that might go wrong on the road, management software can also help keep drivers up to date on regular maintenance services such as oil changes, tire rotations, coolant flushes and tune ups.
So what exactly can a fleet management maintenance program mean for you and your vehicle fleet? For starters, think of the frustration you feel when your vehicle breaks down on the side of the road and you have to call for a tow truck. Then by the time the tow truck gets there, gets you to a mechanic and diagnoses the issue, you’re out hours worth of valuable work time, which leads to lost business and unhappy clients. Now imagine having the peace of mind that you have a sort of mechanic watchdog looking over your vehicle and telling you when something might be wrong. It could be the difference between never being out of commission with your vehicle again and what you’re facing now.
The economic recession is finally starting to sputter to a close. As we’ve begun our exit, we’ve seen the domestic automakers emerge leaner, more efficient and with an added focus on product quality. Although the domestic automotive industry will never be as huge as what it used to be, it appears financially stable and well off enough to prosper in the long-term, something that could not be said in 2009. However, with the added attention that’s paid to product quality now in the auto industry, it’s not crazy to think that years from now Americans will be holding onto their vehicles for longer than just 11 years. With fleet management software and the will and desire to care for vehicles, this longevity can only be helped.