Managing Fleet Performance with Preventative Transmission Maintenance

Australia’s fleet vehicles operate in some of the world’s harshest environments. These arenas present unique challenges that most vehicles aren’t equipped to handle, which is why transmissions, drivetrains, and underbody components receive significant upgrades. Although owning and maintaining a fleet of upgraded vehicles is a major expense for any company, these cars, trucks, and 4WDs are ultimately responsible for keeping the country moving.

Operating a fleet comes with many challenges, especially in terms of maintaining vehicles and meeting service requirements. In tough outback conditions, these requirements are much higher than normal road use, and many companies find themselves investing in major preventative maintenance items. While rebuilding components like transmissions isn’t trivial, it’s critical to the success of a fleet, and it offers four major benefits that we’ll explore in the article below.

1. Reduced Downtime

Keeping fleet vehicles moving is a top priority in every industry. When vehicle downtime is costing you time and money, it’s important to keep on top of maintenance requirements. While most fleet operators have no trouble executing regular servicing appointments, major services like transmission rebuilds can be harder to justify. It can take multiple days to rebuild and reinstall a transmission. While the rebuilt transmission can provide years of reliable service, some operators struggle to justify the downtime.

Despite this, investments in drivetrain and transmission rebuilds are some of the most effective productivity boosters. In most cases, transmissions, driveshafts, and transfer cases will continue to run, even as they’re wearing out. This gives fleet operators ample time to schedule major service and rebuild appointments. Treating transmission rebuilds as a preventative maintenance procedure allows your service department to order parts and prepare ahead of time. Factoring these major service requirements into your maintenance schedule reduces downtime, and it prevents even greater losses from occurring when vehicles finally break down while they’re in use.

2. Cost-Efficiency

Fleet operators are often charged with managing hundreds of vehicles. This represents a major cost to any organization, particularly in Australia where companies favor expensive marques like the Toyota LandCruiser. Reducing the expenses incurred by a fleet is typically done by optimizing deployments, providing driver training, and managing maintenance requirements. Of these programs, meeting the servicing, repair, and maintenance needs of vehicles is the most challenging, but it’s also the biggest opportunity for cost savings.

Investing in transmission components and rebuilds is a major expense that you don’t want to find yourself repeatedly incurring. However, transmissions are a critical component, and a rebuilt transmission can breathe new life into old vehicles that are still serviceable. When vehicles like the LandCruiser are known for their ability to do millions of kilometers in the world’s harshest conditions, a transmission rebuild is a cost-effective way of keeping fleets on the road for longer.

3. Enhanced Safety

One of the biggest challenges facing fleet operators is the safety of drivers and other personnel. Modern, well-maintained vehicles protect drivers from harm and reduce the likelihood of accidents that can cause serious injury. These accidents not only have the potential to harm or kill operators, but they also result in downtime, and operators typically end up having to replace the vehicle to remain compliant.

While it’s uncommon for transmissions to fail without warning, a gearbox that is worn out or on its last legs represents a serious hazard. Faulty gearboxes put drivers, passengers, pedestrians, and other road users at risk of accidents and breakdowns. And, when a vehicle is being operated in remote locations – like mine sites – these minor issues can prove fatal. Maintaining, repairing, and rebuilding gearboxes on time means drivers can trust their equipment in critical moments, and it allows fleet operators to protect their employees from unnecessary risk.

4. Improved Fuel Efficiency

A vehicle’s transmission is responsible for transferring power from the engine to the wheels. That means the transmission plays a large role in how efficiently a vehicle runs. Transmissions that are damaged, worn or poorly maintained can dramatically reduce fuel efficiency. While this drop in efficiency may not be noticeable on a single vehicle, it represents a major expense for fleet operators. This is especially true in industries such as mining and power generation that rely on inefficient 4WDs that are driven in demanding, off-road conditions.

Regular transmission maintenance and changing fluids can go a long way to improving fuel efficiency and reducing operating costs. However, all transmission components have a limited life, and they will eventually need to be repaired or replaced. Simply replacing old bearings and worn gear sets can dramatically improve fuel efficiency. While rebuilding a transmission also represents a major cost to fleet operators, the long-term benefits far outweigh the expense.

The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of SpeedwayMedia.com

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