Baldev V Raisinghani, an Indian construction industry veteran, explores a few available cost-effective technological solutions which can help fleet managers manage their facilities effectively.
In order to design and develop the products that meet consumer demands and pass regulatory requirements pertaining to safety and environment compliances, manufacturers are trying to focus on quality and cost innovative factors.
Many of the manufacturing technology and materials innovations developed for one industrial sector can be readily transferred and successfully applied in others.
Gaining knowledge and adopting best practices from other industries allow manufacturers to create new standards using smarter materials, enable new functionalities, and optimise their products.
Some of the examples are:
More efficient wind turbines with carbon fibre: Global demand for carbon fibre-reinforced plastic is expected to grow 15 per cent annually through to 2020. Majority of the manufacturers are looking across industry lines to develop new technology and advance materials innovation. In the last 30 years, a lot of technological developments have taken place, enhancing first life of equipment by strict compliance to preventive maintenance schedules.
Maintenance is a complex activity involving such variants as equipment, statistics, cost administration, productive activity, and business. These variants must be well administered in order to be efficient. In the past, maintenance decisions have been limited to what kind of action to use (corrective or preventive) and to the definition of such variables as best frequency, best predictive techniques, and best information organisations.
Today, due to the changing role of fleet management and maintenance, decision-makers must also consider the coordination of the human, physical, logistical, and logical structures of maintenance, which in turn must be combined with previous variables to create an integrated administration. Maintenance may be seen as a group of interrelated structures that share the common objective of supporting and/or executing actions to maintain or repair. In the case of fleet vehicles, the variants are even more evident.
Factors such as size, responsibility of the task carried out, fleet complexity, market characteristics, and competition level vary markedly from one activity branch to another, or even between geographical areas. Traditionally, the information required to manage a fleet of vehicles has been derived from observations made at the maintenance facility, utilising mileage.
Today, more advanced technology allows vehicles to generate and store observations aboard the vehicles themselves. In this article we discuss some cost-effective solutions available to help fleet managers better manage their facilities.
Changing role of fleet managers: New organisational structures and expanded computing options have dramatically changed the nature of fleet management. Twenty years ago, maintaining equipment was generally the only responsibility that the maintenance manager had, and he did this within a budget allocated to him by upper management. Today, the role of the fleet manager has expanded from 'fleet only' to total maintenance management.
Fleet managers must not only complete tasks but must also take responsibility for outcomes. The role of a fleet manager has changed:
Planning maintenance management systems
Planning for fleet maintenance management systems begins with analysing the requirements of the company (the operational requirements of the vehicles and the needs of the organisation) with regard to fleet maintenance.
These requirements further translate into technical objectives to be met by the planned system. Several different characteristics are analysed: the organisation, the vehicles, and operation conditions. While assessing the needs of the company, the following parameters need to be considered: environmental demand, commitments to punctuality, supply chain, quantity demand, security requirement, and human resource management.
After analysing the requirements of the facility, the fleet manager establishes a general idea of the functions and functional flow necessary for fleet maintenance involving, for example, inventory and parts ordering, scheduling for preventive maintenance, etc. Furthermore, each function is analysed based upon available solution alternatives: manual or computerised management system, basic category of maintenance.
Finally, a fleet management solution is designed or chosen based on manual or computerised management options.
Some aspects that need to be considered while choosing a computerised management solution are:
Any unexpected maintenance performed on a vehicle will be also be recorded and saved.
Software has been developed to oversee maintenance tasks, assign work orders, access equipment history, send time cards, and make asset management decisions.