Effective fleet management is essential for companies that lease out machinery and equipment to the industrial, mining and construction sectors. Forming the heart of their business, the renting out of this equipment is important for business continuity and that is why it is so important that these valuable assets are adequately managed.
Managing a fleet of machinery across multiple locations is a complex procedure that requires the attention of a designated fleet manager who is responsible for the coordinating and facilitating of machinery for various related activities. The fleet manager is also in charge of selecting the fleet of machinery and is also accountable for the maintenance of the equipment.
“There is no specific way to successfully manage a fleet as this is dependent on the company’s needs, budgets and experiences. What works for one company may not necessarily work for another but with this in mind, improvements can always be made. Standardising equipment and having maintenance schedules are aspects that can be modified to help managers boost efficiency” explains Craig Swart, Fleet Manager at Rand-Air, the largest fleet of generators and compressors for hire in Southern Africa.
With all the legalities involved, having a mutually beneficial contract agreement in place is important in maintaining the relationship with your customer. Swart advises “a binding document that covers both parties is considered a major contributor of the success of the relationship.” The lease agreement includes the monthly cost of hiring the machinery, the obligations and responsibilities of the leasing agent and the customer. The contract agreement needs to be clearly outlined and understood by both parties.
Setting up scheduling programmes is a vital part of the fleet management process as this ensures that all the equipment is running in peak operating condition. “Regular maintenance on and off site is imperative in minimising downtime. Another factor to better manage fleet is to ensure that you are familiar with your equipment at all times and that you are aware of any discrepancies,” says Swart. An obvious risk in the management of a fleet of machinery is the wear and tear. Regular maintenance planning and executions will ensure that the fleet manager is well prepared for any repairs, costs and system downtime and enables alternative plans to be made if they are deemed necessary. Swart adds “regular scheduled inspections of equipment highlights early warning signs of any potential problems and diminishes the risk of major failure while optimising system efficiency.”
Further to this, training is key for a rental transaction of this nature and it is the duty of the fleet manager to provide extensive education on the product that they are renting out. “Not only is this significant for your customer but it is important for you as this will reduce the risk of damage to the equipment. Health and safety training is also imperative as this will lessen the chances of injury when operating the equipment.”
It is also helpful to do regular customer surveys as this is a valuable way of obtaining feedback. “This highlights the aspects of the rental transaction that were good and indicates the areas that require attention. Engaging with your customers on this level makes them feel that their comments are appreciated,” states Swart.
“Having a fleet manager or a fleet management operation in your organisation allows companies that rely on the renting out their equipment to remove the risks associated with product investment, improving overall productivity on sites where their products are being utilised,” concludes Swart.