A Guest Post by Megan Nichols
Running a construction fleet can be a profitable and rewarding endeavor if you know what to do. Construction is a massive industry, creating nearly $1.6 trillion in projects annually, but success isn’t a guarantee. You’ll need some fleet management tips if you hope to manage your business effectively.
Poor management can be a death sentence for any company. Conversely, if you manage your fleet well enough, the rest of your business will fall into place. With that in mind, here are seven fleet management tips to help you succeed in a competitive industry.
1. Use Technology to Track Critical Assets
You can’t expect to maintain control over your fleet if you don’t understand its ins and outs. Data can help you benchmark your performance and track costs you might not otherwise see. Technology, like IoT sensors, is your most significant asset when it comes to this area.
Tracking fuel consumption is easy enough, but IoT technology enables you to go further. Sensors can also record data on engine performance and maintenance needs. If anything represents a regular cost, you should use technology to track it.
2. Don’t Over-Record
It’s easy to get caught up in the excitement surrounding the IoT, but that can be detrimental. As helpful as these data-gathering technologies are, they’re also expensive and can be challenging to implement effectively. Be careful only to collect information that’s critical to your decisions as a fleet manager.
The more data you accumulate, the more administrative resources you need to manage and understand it. If you record too much, you’ll have a more challenging time making sense of your data and identifying your most critical needs. Collecting data everywhere will lead to excess information, and all excess is waste.
3. Match Your Equipment to Your Location
Many fleet management tips focus on implementation and not acquisition, which is a mistake. You should start thinking about effective fleet management before you even purchase equipment. One critical concern to keep in mind here is where you intend to work.
You know what equipment will match your operational needs, but what about your location? If you work in the city, you may encounter size limitations, and in the countryside, you’ll need something more rugged. Choosing equipment that fits your worksite and the roads that lead to it can save you a headache.
4. Train and Monitor Drivers Thoroughly
Blind spots and inadequate communication are leading causes of heavy equipment-related deaths in the construction industry. Thorough driver training is imperative, considering the prevalence of these accidents. Before you let anyone handle a vehicle in your fleet, they should meet strict qualifications.
You’ll make your work sites much safer if you have a system to keep drivers accountable. All operators should have to sign in and out when using equipment, so you can see who’s responsible for any damage. When workers understand their responsibility, they’ll take more care with your equipment.
5. Consider Renting Instead of Buying
When you start your fleet, it can be tempting to buy everything outright, but this can be costly. Remember that owning a vehicle comes with more costs than its initial price tag. By contrast, renting enables you to avoid long-term maintenance needs and ensure you always have top-of-the-line equipment.
Buying equipment does come with advantages, but you may not be able to afford it at first. If you’re working with a limited budget, renting is likely your most cost-effective option. You can also adopt a hybrid approach, buying your most frequently used machines while renting others.
6. Embrace Proactive Maintenance
For any equipment you own, you should adopt a proactive approach to maintenance. It can be tempting to avoid inspections and repairs until an issue arises, as that prevents regular upkeep costs. If you don’t take preventive steps, though, you increase the likelihood of a costlier, more severe breakdown.
If you have the funds, you can go a step further and switch to predictive maintenance. Predictive maintenance uses IoT sensors to alert workers to upcoming maintenance needs, leading to more timely and effective upkeep. This approach reduces downtime by 30 to 50% on average, more than making up for its costs.
7. Perform Regular Inspections and Audits
A final fleet management tip you should know is to inspect everything regularly. That applies to your equipment’s condition, your spending, your employee performance and more. If you don’t audit everything periodically, you may miss areas to improve.
You can perform some audits, like employee performance reviews, yourself. With other, more technical checkups, you may want to hire a third-party specialist. Regardless of where they come from, these inspections will help you benchmark and improve your fleet.
Maximize Your Fleet
Managing a construction fleet is an involved process, so much so that it can be intimidating at first. If you understand your responsibilities and resources, though, you can run a highly efficient operation, no matter your experience. Follow these fleet management tips, and you can become the best manager you can be.
Also published on Medium.