Scheduled preventative maintenance (PM) is a great way to reduce costly, unplanned maintenance, and shrink vehicle downtime. However, if not done correctly, you can under or over-maintain your equipment. Traditionally, there are two strategies for scheduling PM: by calendar date or meter reading (and sometimes a combination of both). This post reviews the different approaches to PM, then discusses an even better option, which is usage-based maintenance.
Time-Based Preventative Maintenance
Time-based (also known as calendar-based) plans for vehicle maintenance are easy to schedule and predict — they’re simply based on a calendar interval.
For example, say you want to winterize your vehicles every year in October. When the next due date approaches, the maintenance task is triggered. It’s also easy to predict when maintenance will be next due, such as October 1st of the next year.
Example of a routine PM schedule with drastically different usage between occurrences.
Time-based plans are a great way to schedule seasonal PM tasks but aren’t very good for maintaining equipment components based on actual utilization. You’ll end up doing maintenance too often (over-maintenance) or not enough (under-maintenance) — both of which can be problematic and expensive.
Time-Based Preventative Maintenance — Advantages and Disadvantages
- Simple and easy to manage and track
- Easy to predict future occurrences
- Not based on utilization of asset
- Can lead to over-maintenance or under-maintenance
Meter-based Preventative Maintenance
Basing preventative maintenance off meter readings instead of time is better for most PM plans because it is tied to the utilization of the asset instead of an arbitrary date. For example, if a fleet truck needs an oil change every 5,000 miles, it’s better to schedule PM based on the odometer readings, not a recurring time interval.
Meter-based PM relies on numerous, tedious meter readings. Too few readings cause late or missed PMs. No forecasting of future occurrences.
A meter-based approach can helps fleets reduce unnecessary extra maintenance and also not doing enough maintenance, but it requires more overhead to implement. Firstly, you need regular meter updates to trigger maintenance tasks — and getting meter readings can be a big challenge. It’s cumbersome to chase down drivers for a current reading. Additionally, relaying the information from written reports or emails into a fleet maintenance system can be a major source of errors.
Unlike time-based triggers, it’s very difficult to predict when an asset will be due for meter-based maintenance. PM tasks become due when a meter reading is near or beyond the next trigger point (the next due meter value). Since there isn’t an actual due date, it’s hard to plan when maintenance will be due using a calendar or simple fleet maintenance spreadsheet.
Meter-Based Preventative Maintenance — Advantages and Disadvantages
- Based on actual utilization
- PM tasks are triggered only when needed, not by an arbitrary date
- Getting timely meter readings is difficult, leading to late or missed (and costly) PMs
- Hard to predict the date of future occurrences
Combining the Best of Both Worlds: Usage-based Preventative Maintenance
Usage-based maintenance (UBM) is a form of predictive maintenance (PdM). Similar to meter-based plans, maintenance is triggered based on actual utilization of the fleet’s asset. This type of maintenance takes the average daily usage of an asset into account and uses it to forecast a due date.
Usage-based maintenance is typically a better approach than time or meter reading triggers, since you get the best of both approaches: maintenance is triggered by estimated utilization and it’s easier to predict future occurrences!
In UBM, fewer meter readings are needed. Future occurrences forecasted based on average usage.
Usage-Based Preventative Maintenance — Advantages and Disadvantages
- Based on estimated utilization
- Ability to predict future occurrence dates
- Requires somewhat regular meter readings (e.g. monthly) to work properly, but does not need as many as meter-based maintenance triggers
Proactive vehicle maintenance can have a dramatic impact on your overall fleet efficiency. If you are investing in PM program, it’s important to get it right the first time. Using a fleet maintenance software like Fleetio that supports usage-based preventative maintenance is a great way to ensure assets are properly maintained with minimal overhead. Plus, it gives you forecasting capabilities to plan and budget for future maintenance.
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