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Process & Procedures by Chris Hill

Illustration of the diversity of a municipal fleet. Photo: Chris Hill

If you love this kind of complexity, you are suited to be a fleet manager.

Sometimes a picture is the best way to convey the diversity of many fleets.  The illustration is for a municipality but the information could easily have come from other types of fleets with different sorts of equipment.  As an assessor for Canada’s Green Freight Assessment Program, I have seen a number of transportation fleets that at first glance, seem to be uniformly Class 8 tractors.  By taking a closer look we see that there is much more variety in the types of equipment used to make the entire operation work well.

All of this variety results in having to manage numerous variations in what might appear to be a straight-forward process.  Replacement cycles for pickup trucks is a good starting point.  If they are leased, the replacement point is determined at the time the vehicle is ordered. The length of the lease is usually set to minimize the total cost of the vehicle by getting the optimum balance of operating cost and vehicle depreciation.

If the trucks are owned, there is a similar calculation that is very dependent on the number of kilometres traveled over the life of the vehicle.  But this doesn’t hold for many of the other equipment categories.  Some may be seasonal use with long periods where the vehicles are parked.  This tends to extend the replacement cycle.  Others may be subject to severe service such as constant stop-and-go driving that wears out major components faster than the rest of the fleet.  It all adds up to a highly customized replacement practice that takes all these factors into account.  There is no fixed term that suits everything.

Similarly, there is no standard maintenance plan for a diversified fleet.  Some units need service only once per year and others need it much more frequently.  The fleet manager needs multiple maintenance schedules to ensure vehicles are reliable and safe to operate.

A growing fleet faces an unpredictable need to add new vehicles and equipment as more employees require travel or equipment to do their jobs. Often this leads to new technology entering the fleet, and an opportunity to learn something new.

It’s the kind of challenge that we in this business love.

Categories : Editorial, Fleet
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