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Minimizing Costs of Fleet Ownership With Proactive Trailer Maintenance


Trailer Maintenance

Measuring the total cost of fleet ownership (TCO) is like looking at an iceberg. The industry is aware of the visible part – the vehicle rent, the taxes (which can vary from 5% to 40% of TCO), and the insurance. But when it comes to trailer maintenance and fuel, with different drivers, driving styles, and more regular fill-ups, the costs can often multiply discretely faster than realized until we look underwater.

TCO divides into two major cost categories: fixed – including depreciation, the interest payments on loans, leases, taxes, and insurance – and variable costs – maintenance and fuel. And it’s these variable costs that fleet companies can have more control over, yet they are the ones that can easily slip by us. 

Why is one trailer considerably more expensive to maintain than the other? Do the reports highlight this? Perhaps the tire pressure is low and running more fuel per mile, or the driver leaves the engine on at stop points? The ability to minimize TCO includes a holistic understanding of the expenses, but obtaining a clear view and budgeting is a painstaking task with vast costs and variables to manage. 

With data-driven trailer maintenance planning and real-time visibility, maximizing the profitability of your fleet can be simpler than you think. Here are a few solutions to get you started.

Don’t Overlook Your Operating Costs

Monitoring your variable (operating) costs is one of the most crucial elements in enhancing TCO. One of the highest variable expenses is maintenance – higher fuel performance with minimal leaky engines taking you in for a double cost-save. However, you need to record all expenses to make fair allocations.

What if you knew the costs per trailer, right down to the faulty parts requiring the most significant replacements? With recorded evidence, you can go back to the manufacturer who provided low-quality parts instead of absorbing the fees. 

There is a lot to track when generating accurate trailer maintenance reports. The cost to maintain a vehicle increases over time, increasing the complexity. Age, quality consistency of asset maintenance, and downtime are essential to consider. If your fleet is down for one to two hours biweekly from a rushed, low-quality service, you will waste more time and money getting to and from the garage, in downtime, and servicing fees, than one four-hour thorough bi-monthly check.

Ensure you have a reliable cost-tracking system within your maintenance reports by integrating every new service against the corresponding asset. By cross-checking the age of parts, fixtures, and frequency of fixing specific parts per trailer, you can get a holistic view of the common problems, such as whether you need better quality servicing or newer goods. You can highlight the most significant expenses and investigate the cause when you have clear-cut damage costs.

Data-Driven Trailer Maintenance Analysis for Effective Decision-Making

Accurate TCO leads to higher performance, profitability, return on investments (ROI), and a more solid future strategy. Fleet companies must monitor the performance of each trailer alongside its maintenance requirements to understand the root cause of damage and prevent succeeding costs. 

Record each vehicle with its driver per day, fuel costs, miles they drove, engine levels, tire pressure, stop points, engine activity, speed of the drive, and road terrain. Then you can calculate the cause of damage precisely and appoint long-term solutions. For example, is the solution to keep buying new trailer parts or retrain a few team members in fuel-efficient driving? 

Gather the most realistic data by syncing your odometers – which measure mileage – directly to your trailer maintenance platform through your vehicle’s GPS or other telematics systems, such as the trailer antilock braking systems (TABS). This way, you gain explicit, non-biased mileage data comparable per trailer. By integrating a data feed between the fleet and the maintenance management team, you minimize the ability to overlook costs, and real-time visibility means your team can act before the damage worsens.

Look for or create data-driven trailer maintenance reports that automatically send notifications to the driver and the maintenance management team when certain factors breach the optimal parameters. Say a warning light shows the oil is below a certain level. Connecting these automated alerts to maintenance management enhances future decision-making. They can decide if the pre-drive preparation checks (for oil, for example) need improving or if there is a specific problem (or leak) with a particular vehicle. 

Be Proactive with Trailer Maintenance

The average cost per roadside repair is up 30% year over year at an average of $500 per vehicle. By understanding the damage patterns and causes, you can enhance your ability to schedule checks and minimize the overall costs of trailer maintenance proactively (before the damage occurs). When you improve trailer maintenance management, you keep repair costs low, increase the asset lifespan, and better manage fuel usage for a minimal TCO.

Are you interested in reducing your TCO? Digitize your operations and introduce a proactive trailer maintenance strategy to maximize profitability.