Fleet Success Story: Increasing Vehicle Availability, PM Compliance

By Steve Saltzgiver, Fleet Success Senior Advisor

Fleet organizations with robust transportation networks need to run efficiently to keep their assets running. To do this, they need to improve their vehicle availability and preventive maintenance programs. Recently, RTA’s consulting team helped a client implement focused strategies and enhance the overall quality of their data in their fleet management information system (FMIS). In just four months, RTA was able to help the fleet achieve major improvements to enhance their vehicle availability and PM compliance.

Why RTA Was Hired to Consult

RTA was hired to consult on several best practice projects to improve the overall fleet operation. One of the primary tasks was to serve as the Interim Fleet Director while recruiting a full-time Fleet Director.

Under normal circumstances, the first task of any fleet professional is to audit and review the current preventive maintenance program for quality and compliance. However, as the RTA Interim Director hit the ground it immediately became apparent the fleet was suffering from a lack of vehicle availability and timely customer communication from the fleet maintenance team. Several customers murmured about vehicle statuses and the time it was taking to repair and service down assets.

Upon inspection, it was found that the operation’s vehicle availability was a mere 85% (or 15% of vehicles down daily) compared to an ideal industry-standard benchmark of 95%. In terms of total assets down, 85% availability meant there were 81 assets down daily. RTA’s Interim Fleet Director immediately went to work to implement a cadence of bi-weekly customer calls (to inform and let them vent) to address these issues head-on. This resulted in designing a “Not Available Vehicle (NAV)” report using RTA’s robust FMIS reporting tool which detailed the real-time status of all vehicles in the out of service for repair for all departments. Along with developing this report, RTA scheduled one of its expert FMIS trainers to teach maintenance employees the system.

Lastly, a detailed standard operating procedure (SOP) was developed to provide detailed steps to be followed by the fleet team to communicate the down assets to customers and cascade the NAV report daily. After four months of routinely monitoring the NAV report, the results were remarkable as the fleet reduced assets down each day from 81 to 55, resulting in an overall improvement of over 32%. (See Figure 1). Once the target of 95% was reached the NAV report was reduced from a daily to every-other-day cascade to customers to lessen the work on the fleet team. The team celebrated with a management-sponsored employee luncheon as a well-deserved reward!

Vehicle Availability

Their second challenge was to enhance the fleet’s on-time preventive maintenance compliance from 30% to 56% in four months – to help it get on track to achieve the industry goal of 95%.

As Figure 2 shows, there was a 87% improvement in PM compliance in just 4 short months. However, there is still much room for improvement to get this fleet to the expected 95% compliance.

PM Compliance


Strategies RTA Implemented to Improve Vehicle Availability, PM Compliance

RTA’s consultant, who has more than 40 years of fleet experience, quickly went to work at the fleet. While working on the ground at the operation for several months, he was able to implement successful strategies to achieve the fleet’s goals.

To increase vehicle availability, RTA implemented the following strategies:

  • Data-Driven Insights: RTA analyzed historical data to identify patterns and bottlenecks causing vehicle unavailability. By leveraging advanced analytics, they gained valuable insights into common issues such as breakdowns, maintenance delays, and scheduling conflicts.
  • Streamlined Maintenance Processes: RTA focused on optimizing their preventive maintenance procedures to proactively address potential issues. Regular inspections, timely repairs, and adherence to manufacturer guidelines played a pivotal role in reducing breakdowns and minimizing vehicle downtime.
  • Proactive Maintenance Scheduling: RTA revamped the operation’s scheduling approach, ensuring that preventive maintenance tasks were prioritized and scheduled in advance. This shift from reactive to proactive maintenance planning enabled them to mitigate potential disruptions and maximize vehicle availability.
  • Training and Collaboration: RTA invested in comprehensive training programs for the fleet’s maintenance staff, emphasizing the importance of proactive maintenance and the utilization of modern diagnostic tools. Collaborating with fleet customers and fleet teams also fostered a culture of shared responsibility and heightened awareness of vehicle maintenance needs.
  • Creation of Standard Operating Procedures (SOP): RTA worked closely with the fleet to develop a new SOP to better define and provide detailed guidelines and metrics to the customers and fleet maintenance team to follow consistently toward its continuous improvement goals.

By using these strategies, RTA was able to achieve the operation’s goal of 95% vehicle availability.

To accomplish the PM compliance goal of 56%, RTA used the following strategies:

  • Clear Communication Channels: RTA ensured effective communication was established between fleet managers, maintenance teams, and customers to streamline PM task scheduling. Clear instructions, reminders, and notifications regarding upcoming maintenance requirements played a vital role in improving compliance.
  • Performance Incentives: RTA introduced an incentive program by consistently sharing results along with positive reinforcement to motivate both the customers and maintenance teams to meet PM deadlines consistently. Recognizing and rewarding individuals and teams who achieved high compliance rates proved to be a powerful motivator and boosted overall performance.
  • Real-Time Monitoring: Better utilizing the RTA FMIS reporting to develop a robust metric tracking process along with real-time monitoring capabilities allowed RTA to track PM compliance and identify areas requiring improvement. Timely alerts and notifications ensured that maintenance tasks were not overlooked or delayed.
  • Process Delegation and Accountability: Following the real-time monitoring process, RTA delegated the monitoring task over to the fleet maintenance team to own the process and take accountability for the routine metric tracking and reporting, compliance, and future communication to its stakeholders.

To achieve the goals of improving vehicle availability and PM compliance, RTA helped the organization improve its data quality in its FMIS. Getting accurate and reliable data – and eliminating bad data and setting standardizing asset class codes – helped the fleet enhance their decision-making skills and optimize operations. RTA took the following steps to clean up the data:

  • Data Validation and Cleaning: RTA conducted a comprehensive review of the fleet’s FMIS data, identifying inconsistencies, duplications, and errors. They implemented data validation protocols to ensure that only accurate and relevant information was entered into the system.
  • Integration and Automation: To streamline data collection and reduce manual errors, RTA integrated their FMIS with various data sources, such as correcting problems with the NAPA IBS system feeding critical parts data to the fleet system. Automation minimized data entry tasks and improved overall efficiency.
  • Regular Audits: RTA established a periodic audit process to review the data entered into the fleet management system. This helped identify any ongoing data quality issues and facilitated continuous improvement efforts.

How RTA Was Able to Achieve Success

RTA’s consultancy partnership with this fleet operation resulted in remarkable improvements across critical metrics, including vehicle availability, PM on-time compliance, and data quality. Through the implementation of strategic measures, focused attention on high-quality PM services, and the enhancement of the fleet management system’s data, the fleet experienced a notable transformation within a short timeframe.

By enhancing the overall quality of data in the fleet management system, the fleet gained valuable insights for data-driven decision-making, improving overall efficiency and performance such as greater insights into optimal asset life cycles.

The success achieved through this collaboration stands as a testament to the transformative power of strategic fleet management consultancy and highlights the importance of continuous improvement and attention to detail in optimizing fleet operations.

Bottom line: Improving vehicle availability and PM compliance reduces the number of assets in the fleet along with tremendous cost savings by operating proactively versus reactively to prevent unplanned asset breakdowns. What gets measured, gets managed!


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