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How to reduce equipment downtime and maximize fleet productivity

How to reduce equipment downtime and maximize fleet productivity

What is Equipment Downtime?

Equipment downtime refers to the amount of time your equipment is not operational. This could be planned or unplanned. 

When you schedule assets to go into the shop or depot for preventative maintenance, that’s considered planned downtime. If your asset breaks down in the middle of a job and needs emergency repairs, that’s unplanned downtime.

It’s important to establish how your fleet defines “downtime”, as the metrics tend to vary across the industry. Does downtime start when a vehicle breaks down or once it’s entered the shop? Should you track each vehicle’s downtime per month or total downtime days per event? Having clear guidelines will help you better understand how downtime is affecting your fleet. 

Fleet managers need to maximize asset utilization in order to run a productive and profitable fleet. If one key piece of equipment is stalled, it can cause a chain of delays that affect the entire system. That’s why one of the fleet manager’s most important duties is minimizing equipment downtime. 

The Cost of Equipment Downtime

Unplanned downtime rates in the construction industry are often as high as 20-30%. This means an underperforming fleet (with about 50 assets) could be losing almost CHF 2 million a year! (Source: For Construction Pros

There are many hidden costs to equipment downtime - many of them do not become apparent until it’s too late. Some common consequences to downtime include:

  • Lost revenue and profits
  • Delayed or canceled contracts
  • Missed deadlines
  • Reduced fleet productivity and asset utilization rate
  • Repair and replacement costs for the entire machine and/or parts
  • Renting additional equipment
  • Additional legal costs and penalties
  • Overtime costs across multiple departments
  • Third-party consultation costs
  • Customer churn
  • Bad PR and damage to brand equity

Depending on fleet size, downtime can result in up to $800/day in lost revenue (Source: Fleet Maintenance).

All of these factors can lead to huge losses for the company. As a manager, would you rather be putting out fires all day long, or practicing better fire safety? Establishing a better preventative maintenance program can help you mitigate and minimize many potential catastrophes.
 

Calculating Equipment Downtime

How do you begin to understand downtime and its effect on your fleet? First, you need to calculate it. This is the simple formula for calculating downtime.

Downtime = (time asset is down)/(total time) x 100

 

For example, if your dozer operated for 80 hours last month, but broke down twice and was non-operational for 10 hours, you would calculate downtime like this:

Downtime = (10/80)x100
Downtime = 12.5%

 

Of course, if your fleet has dozens or even hundreds of assets, manually calculating downtime would not be a wise use of your time. Even updating spreadsheets can result in miscalculations and unnecessary administrative overtime. 

So what’s the better solution? Let technology do the heavy lifting. 

Automated Downtime Tracking with Logifleet

How does fleet management software like Logifleet track fleet productivity and downtime? It’s simple. 

When you install GPS trackers to your equipment and vehicles, it automatically sends valuable data to the fleet management software. This real-time data is stored online and can be accessed remotely, without managers on-site. (Learn more about how Machine Connect works.)

Telematics automatically logs all asset activity, workers’ hours, routes, downtime, and more. (Find out how fleet monitoring works and why it’s important.) The software can send fleet managers regular performance reports for each asset and/or operator. Now you don’t need to manually collect this information. You can also filter different time periods to see overall downtime trends. It also makes vehicle assignments and inventory tracking a breeze. (Read more: How does Logifleet help with fleet scheduling?)

Without telematics, it would be impossible to see your entire fleet’s performance at a glance. With the help of fleet management software, you can get alerted about potential issues before they become serious problems. You can also set up automatic notifications to stay on top of preventative maintenance for all your assets. 

Ways to Reduce Equipment Downtime

We’ve established that downtime rates are very high across many fleets. We also know downtime carries major consequences for every company, and can greatly impact your bottom line. Here are the best ways to reduce fleet downtime.

1. Anticipate the Cost of Downtime

Many fleet managers overlook the need to budget in the cost of downtime. They may focus on hard operational costs instead. That’s why many companies will never know their true equipment costs. 

Every company experiences errors, emergency events, and other delays. If you don’t have a plan in place to mitigate and prevent these down events, your company will suffer greater losses. 

It’s a good idea to review your asset utilization rates often and add a buffer in your budget to cover these unexpected down events. Also, it’s good practice to prevent down events as much as possible through a consistent preventative maintenance program.

2. Invest in Automated Downtime Tracking Software

You can’t find solutions to problems you don’t know about. You also can’t find answers without measuring data first. 

A comprehensive fleet management software like Logifleet tracks downtime 24/7, 365 days a year. Get alerts when your vehicles are inactive. Get notified about upcoming or overdue maintenance. Imagine...those features are just the tip of the iceberg!

Investing in downtime tracking will cut down on unplanned downtime. The productivity bump alone will pay for the cost of this software. Interested to discover how Logifleet can improve your ROI in 2021? Schedule a quick consultation call with us.

3. Track and Minimize Unnecessary Costs

The best way to save money and increase profits is by minimizing unnecessary fleet costs.

For heavy equipment, it’s important to track metrics such as:

  • Idle Liters Burned (per day/ per asset)
  • Operating Days (per year)
  • Stolen/Lost Assets (per 3 year period)
  • Average Replacement Cost
  • Average Rental Cost/Month
  • Hours Worked to Collect Maintenance Info (per week in the organization)
  • Mechanic Hours saved per Asset (per year)

When you track and evaluate this information, it’s easier to manage your fleet budget and create more accurate forecasts over time.

Other benefits of fleet tracking include:

  • Reduce idle time/downtime for vehicles, tools, and machines
  • Prevent asset loss and theft
  • Rent and/or buy less often
  • Less administrative time spent manually collecting maintenance and equipment hours
  • Preventative maintenance reduces overtime and mechanic labor costs

Explore more ways to reduce fleet costs here.

4. Track the Life Cycle of your Machine

By tracking the life cycle of each machine, you will be able to better monitor where your costs are and find ways to reduce them. Balance out your fleet utilization to prevent over or underuse of your most important assets. By looking at the utilization rates, operational costs, and remarketing value, you can better determine the best time to replace assets or downsize your fleet.

Logifleet is a comprehensive solution for your fleet management needs. Find out how you can save on fleet costs today with an obligation-free consultation.


Sources:

https://www.forconstructionpros.com/equipment-management/article/21104195/the-true-cost-of-unplanned-equipment-downtime

https://www.constructionequipment.com/cost-downtime

https://www.fleetmaintenance.com/shop-operations/shop-management/article/11289492/how-does-your-vehicle-downtime-measure-u

Raphaël Greppin

Raphaël Greppin

Founder and director of LogiFleet SA since 2002, I take care of the company acquisition and projects management.

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