Weather extremes affect fleets in many ways – so whether you operate in the currently cold Northern or the hot Southern hemispheres, it’s good to be prepared.

Snow, ice, fog and flood are characteristic of UK and European winters from January to April, and this can make driving difficult and dangerous. The extreme heat of Australasian countries at this time of year can be detrimental to vehicles and cause hazards such as wild fires, which also affect road conditions.

 

Tips for effective fleet management in extreme weather seasons

Weather extremes affect fleets in many ways – so whether you operate in the currently cold Northern or the hot Southern hemispheres, it’s good to be prepared.

Snow, ice, fog and flood are characteristic of UK and European winters from January to April, and this can make driving difficult and dangerous. The extreme heat of Australasian countries at this time of year can be detrimental to vehicles and cause hazards such as wild fires, which also affect road conditions.

Changes in weather and driving conditions in any location can happen suddenly and catch people out if they are unprepared or a long way from base. For this reason, it’s a good idea to educate drivers on emergency safety procedures.

The challenges of fleet management in winter

Fleet managers are aware this is a challenging time of year. They also appreciate that the criticality of ensuring driver safety and vehicle reliability are as important as fleet efficiency.

In a fleet of hundreds (or thousands) of vehicles, monitoring each one and every single driver is impossible without fleet technology. Dedicated fleet management software systems like bynxFLEET, integrated with proven telematics technology is making this task easier, systematic and cost-effective. It is particularly helpful in areas that are directly influenced by harsh winters or hot summer, such as vehicle maintenance, driver behaviour monitoring and tyre pressure tracking.

Here are some tips for effective fleet management during winter months:

Vehicle maintenance

Vehicles should be maintained all year but it pays to ensure each has a winter check. This includes checking tyres for wear and correct pressure. It should also include: brakes, battery, oil levels, coolant, anti-freeze, washer fluid, windscreen wipers and lights.

bynxFLEET enables fleet owners to work better and more efficiently with maintenance providers by holding details of agreed service rates and individual capabilities, for example. Among other things, it can be used to authorise and track repair requests for different categories of task (standard repairs, warranty repairs, goodwill and recharge).

Cooling

The level and strength of coolant in your vehicle will affect how it handles temperature extremes. It’s best to run a 50/50 mixture of specified coolant and water as this will maintain temperature and protect against corrosion.

Ensure the engine cooling fan works and check the clutch (if the engine has a belt-driven fan with a clutch).

Air conditioning should also be checked to make sure it’s working and this includes inspecting the system for leaks. Make sure the refrigerant is topped up.

Battery

In hot weather, car batteries can suffer more so than in cold as heat increases the evaporation of liquid electrolyte (although not so with gel-type batteries). Car batteries are designed to last 4-5 years so if the vehicle is that age or older, batteries should be checked regularly.

Oil and hot weather

Replacing dirty oil with fresh, clean oil will increase the lubrication protection of engines. Switching to a heavier viscosity motor oil (especially in older engines) is good for hot weather driving.

Managing Tyres

It is recommended to have at least 3mm of tread for safe winter motoring and in some countries, where snow and ice are more commonplace, it may be worth investing in winter or all season tyres.

Cold weather can cause tyres to become underinflated. As the temperature drops, air contracts and molecules compact together. As this happens, the reduction in volume causes tyres to lose pressure. Underinflated tyres are less fuel efficient and less safe because they require increased braking distances. They can also cause irregular wear. In hot weather, underinflated tyres can overheat and blowout.

Check tyre pressures more often during weather extremes. Tyre pressures can change as regularly as the temperature.

Alongside tracking tread readings and inspection history, bynxFLEET enables better, more cost-effective and efficient management of tyres by managing the budget and number of tyres included within each contract or customer profile. This can cover summer/winter tyre requirements. It handles tyre maintenance authorizations ensuring the correct charging for replacement.

Bad or extreme weather need not add to the complexity of fleet management. The right technology and fleet management system should take it in its stride. The trick is to be aware and prior prepared for the seasons and extremes.