Rationalising a vehicle fleet
I’ve just started a long-term programme with a partner national organisation, and very early on came across an issue with their fleet. As we often see, it’s a combination of saloon/town cars, 4x4s, some trucks (various capacity and style) along with some motorbikes and bicycles. Some are in working order, others in need of repair and simply parked. Now I have some budget to effect the repairs, but that prompted the question of what their optimal fleet should be? How many vehicles, of what type and in what location? I’m sure I could work through the various combinations and from that identify which, if any, of the broken ones justify repairing. My question is whether any other agency has done this before and produced a simple tool, wherein I enter data about: • geography; • frequency and • location and duration and • type of journeys; cargo details (human and/or material) • and costs – and from that the tool produces the optimal fleet composition. Do you know if such a tool exists, and if so, from where might I obtain a copy?
In these days of apps, it is tempting to think that there is one for everything but most vehicle fleet optimization software (a) has been developed for the commercial trucking sector and (b) assumes you are starting with a clean slate. What you have is an existing fleet, so I suggest you do two things in parallel:
- Asssess in detail the needs of the work programme including consideration of the geography and road conditions
Break this into individual components by section of the office or work stream and it is not as complex as you might think.
What is the transport to be used for, define the types and frequency of trips: delivering small items on a motorcycle, number of passengers carried in light vehicles (LV), cargo requirements?
Any requirements for special vehicles (cranes, ambulances, car for the head of office, etc.)
Are 4 wheel drive vehicles trucks and LV required?
What size truck is the road infrastructure able to carry? Where the road infrastructure consists of extremely narrow congested roads in poor condition, where even 20 foot containers are impossible to transport, your vehicle requirements will be different to driving convoys of 40 foot containers on wide paved roads . Are there any restrictions on the type of fuel used in LV?
- Evaluate the vehicles in fleet you have
Assuming the organisation is using a 3rd party service provider for the maintenance of its fleet, the following questions should be asked when identifying the make and type of vehicles which should be used:
• Is there a reputable garage which will be contracted for the maintenance of these vehicles and what make of vehicles is the garage authorized to repair?
• A secondary consideration is the models of vehicle which this garage is used to repairing and its pipeline of spare parts
• Is the garage used to carrying out preventative maintenance and repairs on electro-mechanical issues or it is more used to carrying out this work on older models where there are no electronic components.
Deciding which vehicles should be maintained and which should be written off the points above can be used in addition to the age and condition of the vehicles already in the fleet.
A professional opinion ought to be sought from the garage who can prepare a table considering;
• The current age and condition of each vehicle
• The immediate and future repair maintenance cost per vehicle
On this basis you should be able to decide how the organisation can progressively
(1) maintain certain vehicles
(2) write some off
(3) down size and/or
(4) replace others in cost effective manner, reducing the different makes and models in the fleet to create a situation where there is a reduction of service providers for repair and maintenance and the possibility of saving money through bulk buying of spare parts.
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