I would like to introduce a new PM acronym to fleet management; behold, the Preemptive Model. One may think a small fleet has unlimited opportunities to manage each piece of equipment in an individual manner and for the most part they would be right, but there is a fundamental problem with the micromanagement of equipment in a small fleet. The smaller the data set the less reliable the numbers are therefore many of the trusted fleet concepts don’t apply. We are talking about a very small data set in my case, 16 marked police units, 10 backhoes, a sundry set of dump trucks and a random list of other one of kind specialty pieces. Any one catastrophic failure on any one piece of equipment can tilt the averages to the point they are just not useful for any type of trending. I say, the battle lines of a small fleet are drawn in the sands of down time and the methodology of proactive and reactive maintenance approaches seem to be in constant battle. So, I offer a peaceful solution, the olive branch of availability percentages.
Availability percentages are something usually dealt with in much larger entities but when applied to a small fleet great things can happen. For instance if my Gradall goes down 100% of my Gradall’s are down, thus paying attention to availability is even more critical in a small fleet. Working without a backup makes our Gradall a priority so I apply something called a preemptive model. As fleet managers we know If we choose to just wait until it is “down in the ditch” before we replace a hydraulic hose the ultimate impact is on the productivity of the customer. If the ultimate goal of our customers is productivity then the ultimate goal of fleet management is availability. What is the argument then?… Well money of course. How much predictive maintenance is too much? Again I reiterate small fleets just don’t have good enough data to say every police cruiser gets axles at 40,000 miles or every garbage truck gets new cylinders on a three year cycle.
A new question emerges. How much availability can we afford? The most important thing for a manager of a small fleet is to make a difference when you can. Know the critical equipment in your fleet and use your most aggressive Preemptive Model on the high visibility critical pieces. As the reliability of these model assets are realized the model can then be applied to other assets. Using this “inches make yards” approach is one of the ways small fleets meet the big challenges.