Practical fleet tips for SMR cost control
SMR (service, maintenance and repair) costs are on the rise – a trend triggered over recent months, in no small part, by inflationary pressures, constrained supply of new vehicles and fleet contract extensions.
Managing this expenditure has always been important, but as the global cost of business squeeze bites, it has honed into sharper focus.
What’s more, SMR means business disruption, and every minute a vehicle is off the road it’s costing a company money.
Here, we bring you five practical measures that can help you keep a lid on your maintenance downtime and SMR spend.
1. Make the right vehicle choice
Selecting the most cost-effective vehicles for your fleet, taking account of considerations such as reliability and warranty duration, is paramount.
It may sound obvious, but all too frequently vehicles that have a poor reputation from an SMR perspective will find their way onto choice lists.
You should also consider the type of journeys your vehicles will make and choose those that are best suited to the task.
Electric or hybrid vehicles could be a cost-effective option, for example, for an LCV fleet focused on local urban deliveries. It is a matter of when, and not if, business fleets will have to make the electric transition and studies suggest electric vehicles (EVs), which have few moving parts, can cut SMR cost by half.
2. Prevention is better than cure
A well-planned preventive maintenance program can help fleet managers identify potential problems before they develop into more serious, costly issues.
Greater vehicle reliability has led to extended warranties and longer service intervals, but this can lull businesses, and their drivers, into a false sense of security.
Robust processes should be in place for vehicle servicing, with maintenance software systems offering a helpful tool, particularly for larger fleets, to track and manage service histories and schedules.
Drivers should be made aware of their vehicle service intervals and their personal responsibilities. They should also be given guidance on how to spot potential problems, with regular vehicle checks, conducted before they use their vehicles, offering an auditable way of detecting and rectifying issues, such as low tyre treads or fluid levels.
3. Promote better driving practices
The role that drivers can play in reducing vehicle maintenance costs should not be underestimated.
By improving their behaviour behind the wheel and reducing incidents of harsh cornering, braking or speeding, for example, not only will wear and tear and component damage be minimised, but also the risk of road traffic collisions and insurance claims.
Electric vehicles can be more prone to steering, suspension and tyre wear, but the use of regenerative braking can help extend the life of brake pads.
Advanced telematics systems can play a helpful role by enabling driving standards to be monitored, and drivers to be profiled or benchmarked based on a variety of key performance indicators. These valuable insights can then support targeted training initiatives.
4. Consider a multi-bid solution to secure more cost-effective maintenance contracts
Contract hire lease agreements often include maintenance packages that cover vehicle servicing, wrapped up as part of the leasing provider’s fee.
These bundled, sole-supply arrangements can lead to a lack of cost visibility, making it difficult to identify and optimise maintenance savings.
By managing contracts directly with service suppliers – an unbundled, multi-supplier procurement approach – fleets have greater flexibility and maintenance contract costs can benchmarked.
Where the process is outsourced to a fleet management specialist, companies can benefit from the same minimal resource demands they get with a sole supplier and realise, at the same time, significant returns on their investment.
5. A predictive future
Predictive maintenance solutions that leverage vehicle and driving data can offer a powerful tool for cutting costs and scheduling maintenance more efficiently.
Fleet management systems incorporating AI and machine learning innovations can now estimate the life of vehicle systems or components, for example, based on usage and maintenance operation history.
Where such tech is incorporated into vehicle dashcams, risky driving behaviours can be better identified.
Video data, combined with automated image analysis, is now capable of “seeing” and recognising objects, along with activities behind the wheel, such as distracted driving incidents and mobile phone use. AI technology is becoming so sophisticated that it is then capable of learning and interpreting what the machine vision sees.
This means that a more proactive approach can be taken to managing driver behaviour and reducing the risk of costly accidents.
For find out more about how our TraXall International experts can help you keep a lid on your fleet SMR spend, our contact details can be found here.