Each day, more than 25 million students ride the school bus, according to The American School Bus Council. These students – and their families - are depending on that vehicle to transport them safely to and from school each day.
Buses are also responsible for getting students to school on time -- even in inclement weather like rain, snow, or ice.
This is no small feat. As any fleet manager knows, it requires an efficient and organized maintenance program to make this possible.
Fortunately, fleet maintenance information systems (FMIS) can help.
Here are five ways fleet management software can improve your school bus maintenance program.
Improve Your PM Program
One of the keys to keeping your school buses on their routes is an organized preventative maintenance program. If your program is running correctly, your technicians will perform routine services on vehicles at properly scheduled intervals aligned with the original equipment manufacturer (OEM). An organized PM program will consist of multiple-echelon PM routines that are nested together. For example, a PM-A may consist of a safety inspection; a PM-B could be a Lube/Oil/Filter and also include the PM-A, which is nested within the PM-B, and so on.
Performing these services enables your shop to detect and repair minor issues during routine services before they become larger problems later, which could impact driver performance, productivity, or safety.
According to RTA’s founder, Ron Turley, 1 hour of preventative maintenance can save 3 to 8 hours of work later, along with the potential of four-times the savings if defects are discovered prior to an unplanned breakdown on the road. This is because, with an effective PM program, most of your work orders should be for preventative repairs (80:20) rather than on-demand fixes.
An FMIS can help you organize your program. It lets you schedule school buses for services at set intervals and can alert you when a vehicle is due – or overdue – for PM. You can also adjust schedules to ensure all your school buses are available for the busiest days of the year and plan for more robust maintenance services during school vacations.
How many sheets of paper are stacked in various piles around your operation? Now, think about what information might be on those forms. Are they work orders with repair details? Sheets tracking labor? Licensing or registration information? These can easily get misplaced, which can result in lost information on vehicles and repairs, and possibly even put you at risk for being non-compliant during a Department of Transportation (DOT) audit.
Fleet management software can help. The solution stores your operation’s vital information in one place. It can then be easily accessed when needed – whether it’s to look up a vehicle’s repair history, check the status of a work order, or even pull information for upper management.
Enhance Your Parts Tracking and Inventory Processes
It can be easy to misplace parts or other equipment around your shop, especially if you do not have an organized parts room. Fleet management software has tools to help you better track your assets and perform an efficient parts inventory.
The software has capabilities to let technicians check out tools as needed. This allows you to see who is using what tool and lets technicians know what equipment is available before they spend time searching for it.
An FMIS also has barcoding tools to let you easily take parts inventory. You can sync your barcoding tools to your FMIS to quickly scan parts. This can shave hours, days, and even weeks off your process.
Monitor Fuel Usage
As one of your operation’s largest expenses, it’s important to keep constant tabs on how much fuel each vehicle is using and ensure it correlates to the asset’s odometer reading.
This information can be readily available in your FMIS. You can sync your electronic fuel interface (EFI) to your fleet management software to have the information flow into your system. It is then available for you to monitor or run reports at any time.
Tires are the third greatest expense of most fleets, behind labor and fuel. Because of this, it’s important to properly track your tires.
Tires should be checked daily by the bus operator and during each PM echelon to ensure they are correctly inflated, have adequate tread depths, and are free of damage. If a tire is 10-percent under-inflated, it can cost it 7 percent of its lifespan. It can also cost more in fuel expenses. The alignment and tread must also be checked frequently to keep the bus running properly.
With an FMIS, you can record the air pounds and tread depth data to ensure your tires are being checked regularly. You can also use it to determine which manufacturer’s tires last the longest and perform the best. This information is important when ordering replacements.
RTA’s fleet management software solution can help your school bus operation tackle all five of these issues – and more. To learn more about our robust system or see how it works, please reach out to our Sales team.