From VIN decoders to digital and mobile work orders, fleet management software (FMS) can help coordinate maintenance, track costs, and automate tasks. - Photo: Fleetio

From VIN decoders to digital and mobile work orders, fleet management software (FMS) can help coordinate maintenance, track costs, and automate tasks.

Photo: Fleetio

School bus fleet management hinges on safety and vehicle uptime. The safety of students, the public, and drivers depends on the upkeep of your vehicles, so it’s crucial to have the proper management systems in place. Aside from garbage trucks, school buses require the most maintenance of any municipal fleet and managing maintenance manually via paper inspections and spreadsheets can often pose a challenge and increase downtime.  

Fleet managers also have difficulty monitoring and tracking drivers to ensure safety. Many school bus fleets are going paperless and leveraging software to manage maintenance, inspections, and expenses. With fleet management software (FMS), managers can automate tasks, track asset data in real-time, and get an in-depth look at their fleet’s health anytime, anywhere, regardless of an asset’s current location. 

Optimizing Preventive Maintenance 

Downtime isn’t an option for school bus fleets. Morning and afternoon routes follow a set schedule, so it’s important to make sure your fleet is in good working condition. Taking a proactive stance on maintenance is a great way to maximize uptime and verify the safety of your buses. FMS helps facilitate the preventive maintenance (PM) process in several ways, including:  

  • VIN decoder: When importing asset information into FMS, the VIN decoder pulls all the asset’s specs, including OEM recommended maintenance intervals. 
  • Automated reminders: With FMS, you can set service reminders based on meter and time intervals, so your buses never miss a service. 
  • Inspections: FMS offers customizable inspections that can be completed from a mobile app. Failed inspection items automatically trigger a notification and update the status of the bus from active to inactive, setting the workflow process in motion. 
  • Digital and mobile work orders: Work orders can be easily spun up from failed inspection items — and diagnostic trouble code (DTC) faults when FMS is integrated with telematics solutions. In-house technicians can easily clock in and out of jobs right from the work order in the mobile app. Digital work orders allow precision tracking of parts inventory, labor, and job time. 

FMS consolidates all your fleet’s maintenance data for each vehicle to help you make better decisions around maintenance, such as customizing PM schedules based on vehicle age and usage or determining which assets may be inflating your maintenance costs and why. Because PM has such a huge impact on fleet uptime, using maintenance data as a precision tool for zeroing in on problem areas can be a massive benefit for fleet managers.  

Maximizing Vehicle Lifespans with Cost Tracking 

The best way to maximize vehicle lifespan is to stay proactive in maintenance and asset monitoring. If you closely track assets and perform PM, you can make the most of your vehicles and reduce unnecessary spending. Managing assets with FMS allows you to track operating costs and optimize use in an all-in-one platform. Custom reports help identify areas of concern in your fleet to help you improve daily operations. Maintenance is one of the largest ongoing costs for fleets and calculating your fleet’s total cost of ownership (TCO) can give you better insight into the health and life of your buses. FMS automatically calculates TCO so you can better plan replacement cycles for your assets. 

School buses can be incredibly expensive to replace, with many hoops to jump through in the replacement process. While maximizing lifespan is extremely important, vehicle replacement is an inevitability for fleets. Having a large amount of historic and current fleet data at your fingertips is a great way to both understand vehicle replacement and communicate to stakeholders. With custom reporting, you can quickly obtain and share critical data in an easy-to-read format. 

The ability to analyze hard data is the key to maximizing uptime and keeping your fleet safe and productive. FMS helps you make informed decisions for your school bus fleet to get the most out of your assets. 

Rachel Plant is a content marketing specialist for Fleetio, a fleet management software that helps organizations track, analyze, and improve their fleet operations.