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Proactive vs Reactive Maintenance Strategies for Fleet Managers

It goes without saying that maintaining vehicles is one of the most important aspects of a fleet manager’s job. When your trucks are properly maintained, you do much to reduce the amount of time they spend off the road, as well as lower your costs and operational disruptions. 

There are two main approaches used in commercial vehicle maintenance: 1) proactive and 2) reactive. Each has its own set of pros and cons, which is why a dual approach is often used. In this article, we look at both the advantages and drawbacks of a reactive and preventative strategy.

Understanding the Difference is Key 

As we just alluded to,both proactive and reactive maintenance strategies and understanding the difference between the two is at the heart of the matter. To illustrate their relative distinctions, let’s take a look at some strategies from each. 

Proactive maintenance strategies might include:

  • Putting a robust preventive maintenance programme into place.
  • Follow manufacturer recommendations in terms of servicing intervals.
  • Use telematics systems for real-time data on usage patterns & vehicle health.
  • Schedule any required servicing during off-peak hours.

As we can see, proactive maintenance is all about staying ahead of the curve, and anticipating issues before they even happen.

Reactive maintenance strategies might include:

  • Develop a process for unexpected breakdowns and emergencies.
  • Ensure quick access to spare parts, repair facilities, and roadside assistance services.
  • Promptly respond to issues as they arise, thereby mitigating operational disruptions.
  • Carry out post-failure analyses to identify root causes & patterns.

You can’t always anticipate issues, no matter how much planning you put into place. As such, knowing what to do when unexpected problems arise will greatly speed up your response and reduce much of the resulting impact. 

Striking a Balance Between Reactive & Proactive Approach

If you want to enjoy optimal results as the manager of a fleet of lorries, you need to strike the perfect balance between proactive and reactive measures. This way, you can perfectly allocate your resources, boost your operational efficiency and minimise possible risks.

Ongoing improvement is also essential in order to perfect your processes while identifying emerging best practices. Mistakes and issues are a part of life and they’re pretty much unavoidable, so you can’t bury your head in the sand and pretend that they’re not going to happen. Doing so is a sure-fire way to complicate your role. 

No Fleet Can Operate Optimally Without Both Approaches 

Of course, proactive maintenance offers a range of advantages for fleet managers, such as increased uptime, reduced costs and efficiency of operation. The same can be said for reactive maintenance, as it’s important to have an established process for when those unanticipated problems occur. However, neither can really exist without the other. 

While reactive maintenance has its place, relying on this approach alone will only lead you down one path – and that’s a path full of unnecessary disruptions. However, when you use a hybrid strategy, you can sleep well knowing that you’re covered against every eventuality.

About the author

Jonathan Gilder

Jonathan Gilder

Head of Training and Transport
Jonathan is a distinguished NRI HGV Instructor accredited by RTITB, with certifications in IOSH Managing Safely, RTITB Lift Truck Instruction, and ROSPA Assured PAT Testing. His expertise extends to EdI Level 3 NVQ Assessing, Btec Level 2 in Transportation of Goods by Road, and he is a skilled Trainer in Driver CPC and Incident Investigation from GH Safety.

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