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The solid reputation of the Isuzu brand cannot be questioned as the market share continues to grow year-on-year and the technical advances built into every truck will continue to provide the multitude of customers with cost efficient and reliable transport solutions.

Reducing vehicle uptime is becoming more important with the onset of rising parts and labour costs, and a growing shortage of technician shortages. This is according to chemical company Valvoline.

A drop in maintenance costs was noted between 2014 and 2015, and this was said to be as a result of better vehicle quality. To maximise on this, and the longevity of your vehicle’s lifespan, here are six tips to maximise its uptime:

  1. Set up a preventive program

According to a 2013  study, fleet vehicles in a Preventive Maintenance (PM) program have around 20% fewer ‘down days’ per service repair (i.e. unusable for business) than those not in a PM program.

Proper implementation of a PM program requires identifying goals, simplifying schedules and solving challenges. Plan and act effectively and you’ll cut the need for emergency repairs, reduce the burden of normal wear and tear, and ensure high-quality service.

  1. Hold your drivers accountable

Whether your drivers spend a little or a lot of time in their vehicles, they play a critical part in keeping your vehicles in good operating condition. Remember these important steps when working with your drivers:

–  Drivers must understand the types of vehicles they’re operating.

– Give proper driver instruction on maintenance responsibilities when operating the vehicle.

Set a routine for fleet drivers to conduct the pre and post-trip vehicle inspection. Hold drivers accountable for the downtime, as the more drivers care for the vehicles they drive, the more likely they’ll continue to operate them properly and avoid trips to the repair shop.

  1. Take advantage of improved products and materials

It’s important to work with a maintenance professional who knows if your vehicles can take advantage of new products and materials while still taking into account OEM recommendations.

Being aware of these recommendations can also mean keeping any OEM warranties you have in place and secure. Too often, warranties are waived because OEM recommendations are not followed.

You also want to make sure that you work with a provider who understands quality parts.

OEMs and component manufacturers are increasingly using technology to produce better components, to lengthen maintenance intervals and increase vehicle uptime. Higher-quality and longer-life tires, brakes and fluids — while they can cost more in the near-term — can lead to reduced downtime and ultimately lower overall maintenance costs.

  1. Tailor downtime to each vehicle’s requirements

Scheduling maintenance and repairs during off hours is an easy way to cut out downtime. By working with a flexible provider you can reduce the impact of maintenance on your operations.

  1. Do your research before choosing a vehicle

Overtaxing trucks can lead to downtime fast. The first thing to think about when choosing vehicles is whether a particular make and model meet the bulk of the fleet’s  requirements or specific applications including function, durability, availability, and cost.

  1. Evaluate when it’s time to replace your vehicle

Does it make financial sense to act before excessive repairs are required? Understanding when to turn in the vehicle is crucial. At a higher mileage and age, trucks are more likely to go down, and repair time often goes up, keeping units off the road for longer and more frequent intervals, with less work getting done.

Knowing the cost of downtime is also important. When you know the true cost of downtime, you can better evaluate when to replace a vehicle. Beyond the costs of parts and labour, having your vehicles out of action could be costing you a lot more.

Consider what that vehicle would be doing and how much money your business is losing.

If your fleet has a sound foundation, you can maximise uptime. Proper vehicle selection, downtime measurement, and a coherent lifecycle and repair strategy will help reduce downtime and help you be better prepared to act when it occurs.