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The truth behind fleet vehicle downtime and how to avoid it

Thursday, November 15, 2018

By: Element Fleet Management

Whether it’s a vehicle breakdown or a collision, downtime is inevitable when it comes to service fleets. Even fleets with well-managed preventive maintenance programs incur extra cost when drivers can’t do their jobs.

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In fact, downtime can be translated into dollars, costing an average of $448 to $760 a day, per vehicle. Those figures add up fast. When thinking about downtime, accidents and maintenance reasons are typically what comes to mind, but there are many factors that could limit a fleet driver’s productivity, such as weather, recalls, booted vehicles, licenses and traffic. And some of these factors, like weather, can’t be avoided.

Downtime cost breakdown

Fleet costs can be broken down into two categories: hard and soft. Hard costs are standard fleet operating expenses like fuel, maintenance and insurance. Soft costs are less obvious and more difficult to anticipate.

When a driver and fleet vehicle are out-of-commission, the downtime cost can quickly add a significant amount to a fleet’s operating budget. But it’s difficult to accurately budget for soft downtime costs.

For example, a driver with a salary of $50,000 and benefits equal $15,000 works 260 days a year, eight hours a day. That driver is responsible for annual revenue of $2,000,000 – at a profit margin of 5 percent.

The hourly cost for the driver is $31.25 and the hourly cost of lost profit is $48.08, making the total hourly cost of downtime $79.33. And that number quickly skyrockets with every passing moment.

A 1,000-unit fleet with similar drivers at an average of five, 90-minute downtime events per unit, per year, will result in an annual downtime cost of more than half a million dollars; $594,975 to be exact. But some of that is avoidable.

Decreasing downtime

Reducing downtime is key to saving money and keeping your fleet up and running:

  • Optimize the number of vehicles needed to ensure your fleet runs efficiently. This will help increase the percentage of time vehicles are in use.

  • Participate in a preventive maintenance program to experience fewer maintenance-related downtime days. With proper planning and preventive maintenance, downtime costs can often be avoided. Even small changes can make a big difference financially.
  • Take advantage of many fleet technologies that provide insight and real-time data. These various solutions can help improve vehicle maintenance, service scheduling and uptime by identifying issues before they become a bigger problem.
  • Implement fleet telematics to detect how a vehicle is being driven and provide up-to-the-minute insights on things like traffic and fuel consumption. This can help optimize and change routes as needed, as well as see where you’re wasting fuel.

Fleet operating budgets are tight. Time in the shop, instead of on the road, can mean lost sales and less face time with customers, resulting in a hit to the bottom line. To help keep your fleet and drivers productive, learn more about preventive maintenance though Element and join the conversation on Twitter @ElementFleet.

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