Top 5 Strategies to Increase Asset Utilization Rates

Posted in Fleet Utilization and Availability on May 4, 2016

Increasing Asset UtilizationAsset utilization, when tracked correctly, provides a good indication of the health of your fleet maintenance program. The challenge is recognizing what data to use in your calculations.

Identifying Factors Impacting Asset Utilization

Asset utilization can be tough to measure effectively because some of the factors don’t have anything to do with maintenance. For instance, detention time (during loading and unloading), driver availability (e.g., HOS restrictions) and sales demand all affect asset utilization.

The main maintenance-specific components that impact asset utilization are driven by the frequency of unscheduled events and related downtime. Many factors can lead to unnecessary downtime, such as:

  • Poor event/case management
  • Reliance on phone-based and paper/manual communication
  • Limited visibility and transparency of service event activity
  • Difficulty accessing required information at the point of service (service history, build information, PM status, etc.)
  • Inconsistent inspections processes and reporting

All of these factors add to downtime and lower asset utilization rates — and they’re unnecessary and avoidable.

5 Effective Strategies to Boost Your Asset Utilization Rates

Well-maintained trucks are less likely to break down or be taken out of service during a roadside inspection. Here are five ways to improve the effectiveness of your fleet maintenance management and increase asset utilization rates:

  1. Reduce downtime during events: Identify the causes of delays, whether they’re internal (your shop) or external (vendors), and put programs and processes in place to address those causes. Our research shows that between 60 and 95 percent of the downtime during a service event has nothing to do with turning a wrench. You can reduce this unproductive time simply by improving communication and collaboration.

  2. Improve PM effectiveness: Analyze what’s causing breakdowns between PMs by leveraging VMRS codes and develop a strategy to deal with the problem. That may involve changing or enhancing your inspections or creating campaigns to address specific issues. Getting away from paper-based forms will improve the quality of the data you collect, ensure VMRS coding and eliminate any latency to support-decision making and reporting requirements.

  3. Improve preventive maintenance (PM) currency: Preventive maintenance is most effective when it’s done regularly and consistently, so make sure you stick to a PM schedule. Use a Service Relationship Management (SRM) system to develop a schedule for each of your assets that reflects its age, mileage, specifications, etc. Use the same SRM system to ensure that all of your assets are current on their scheduled PM events.  

  4. Bundle service events: If you have important pending work, known campaigns, service bulletins and recalls as well as any upcoming repairs, take care of all necessary work at once. It’s more efficient and productive to deal with multiple tasks during a single service event than to bring the asset in multiple times.

  5. Improve service event visibility within your company: If operations/dispatch only knows that the asset went in for service, they probably won’t schedule assets for duty for several days, because they don’t trust that the work will get done in a timely manner. It’s essential that all parties get regular, accurate updates on asset availability. Giving everyone access to a real-time SRM solution will help improve communication, build  trust and improve asset utilization rates.

The most effective preventive fleet maintenance programs are based on timely, up-to-the-minute information that’s available to all parties involved. An SRM platform is the best way to organize and disseminate this information.

Fleet Managers, Join the Conversation

Which strategies have had the biggest impact on your own efforts to increase asset utilization? How do you ensure that assets return to active service in a timely manner after a service event? Please share your thoughts by posting a comment below.

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Topics: Fleet Utilization and Availability