It’s 2020 and it’s surprising how many organisations still use spreadsheets to manage their fleet maintenance. To put it bluntly, spreadsheets are not designed to manage the complexity of a maintenance organisation. As a result, many fleet managers still reply on other systems like paper defect books, email, phone and text, post-it notes, WhatsApp, and wall calendars. Every maintenance organisation will eventually outgrow their spreadsheet as they add more fleet, more resources, or more data. The better solution is called fleet maintenance software. It has been around longer than Excel and has all the complex functionality a maintenance team needs already built-in. The systems are designed around maintenance best practices so they eliminate a lot of the human effort. The software helps make maintenance organisations more efficient. Here are 10 reasons why your organisation should be using fleet maintenance software rather than spreadsheets:
Audit & compliance
Fleet maintenance software digitizes the audit trail by electronically tracking every click of the mouse. The systems automatically track everything maintenance-related; such as the logging of defects, the resolution of defects, the completion of PMs, or the installation of parts. When the inspectors call onsite, supervisors can pull reports quickly from the system detailing the required work. This makes the audit process a walk in the park.
Effortless work order management
The basic fundamental feature of both fleet maintenance software and CMMS software is work order management. Companies using spreadsheets have to accept work requests from another source such as phone, paper defect slip, post-it note etc. The issues are then transcribed into the spreadsheet. Inevitably something will fall through the cracks. Fleet maintenance software effortlessly manages the work order through the work order lifecycle from the request, assignment, completion, all the way to close.
Easy KPIs and reporting
Spreadsheets are used to store historical information but it’s almost impossible to accurately mine that data and pull actionable insights. In reality, most spreadsheet-based organisations are relying on gut instinct when identifying patterns and trends. Whereas with fleet maintenance software, administrators and managers have access to powerful business intelligence tools such as dashboards and reports. Many solutions have canned reports typical for the industry already built-in. Many systems have report schedulers that email the report to an inbox at a predetermined time. The information can be used to make informed decisions that improve asset availability and lower costs; thus, improving the bottom line.
Fleet maintenance software allows for more efficient and collaborative communication. Operators can report defects through a mobile driver defect app in the field in real-time; including details and images of the defect if needed. Planners get notifications from the system when new defects are created. The work can be quickly assigned to the mechanic on the job card, thus showing up on their daily allocation queue. Improved communication means mechanics will be better utilized. Mechanics also have more information at their fingertips when embarking on the repair.
As the fleet grows in size, it becomes impossible to rely on formulas to keep track of the different PMs and inspections on each vehicle. Without a proper tracking system, preventive maintenance and inspections will be missed, resulting in more emergency breakdowns or safety incidents. Fleet maintenance software applications alleviate that risk by taking ownership of preventive maintenance triggering. The system automatically generates time-based PMs when they are due as per the schedule. The system triggers meter-based PMs automatically when the user logs a meter reading exceeding the threshold.
True, it is possible to access spreadsheets on tablets and mobile devices. But it’s not easy to navigate spreadsheets on those small screens. It can be difficult to swipe across the spreadsheet and not lose your point of reference. Modern fleet maintenance applications are cloud-based and mobile-ready so can be accessed anywhere. Navigation, screens, and screen layouts are specifically designed to aid the user in finding the maintenance data they need quickly and effortlessly.
A central database of information
Time is money so mechanics need quick access to resources such as manuals, schematics, warranties, parts, preferred vendors, recent invoices and much more. Fleet maintenance software can give the user all that information in the palm of their hand in real-time.
Unplanned maintenance costs 3-9 times more than planned work. Emergency breakdowns are unpredictable which leads to costs such as overtime, emergency parts, missed orders, and lost business. Accordingly, it makes sense to complete more planned work than unplanned. You need a PHD in rocket science and a lot of time to effectively plan and schedule work if you use spreadsheets. Those using spreadsheets troll through the work order lists for outstanding repairs, match the repairs to the due PMs, estimate time, and then add the work to a wall calendar. They must then communicate the repair manually to the technician and the workshop. If the schedule changes, the whole system can blow up in smoke.
Scheduling planned work is a breeze using fleet maintenance software. Planned preventive maintenance can be bundled with defects so all outstanding issues can be addressed at the same time. The job card is assigned a technician in a repair bay, ensuring the maintenance workshops schedule is optimized and all repair bays are fully utilized each day.
Seamless purchasing & inventory management
Managing inventory on a spreadsheet can be tricky when parts are constantly moving in and out of the parts room. The better fleet maintenance software solutions have inventory modules that track inventory from the moment the part is ordered from the vendor to the moment the part is installed in the asset. For stocked items, stock levels are depleted automatically in the system as the parts are consumed on job cards. At any moment of time, inventory managers can get a real-time summary of parts on hands, revenue tied up in stock, low stock items, and open purchase orders.
Organisations relying on spreadsheets need to back up the document on a regular basis. As the spreadsheet fills with data and grows over time, it may slow down or lock up on older systems like Windows 7. Additionally, those using spreadsheets most likely rely on a single resource that knows the spreadsheet inside out. They can quickly find the data or change the formula, but what happens if and when they decide to leave? Organisations employing fleet maintenance software outsource system management, security, backups and upgrades to the vendor. If the system expert leaves the company, a new resource can slot in easily with minimal training.
Most employees have access to MS Excel or Google sheets on their work devices so deploying a spreadsheet to manage your maintenance can be an easy decision. However, dedicated fleet maintenance software offers a better choice for organisations regardless of size.