Maintenance and Repair
The field of maintenance and repair of conventional fuel vehicles offers many opportunities for change in pursuit of sustainable fleet management. This lesson provides a starting point for implementing such environmentally preferred practices. If your municipality contracts out auto repair work, hire shops that implement best environmental practices.
- Keep engines properly tuned.
- Keep tires properly inflated and aligned.
- Replace clogged air filters.
- Consider feasibility of retreading tires rather than replacing.
- Follow vehicle manufacturer's recommendations for oil change frequency, or extend intervals according to EPA recommended process. Follow manufacturer's recommended schedule of vehicle inspections and servicing.
Auto shop operations
- Follow vehicle manufacturer's recommendations for oil viscosity.
- Use re-refined lubricating oils, and catch lube oil for reuse/recycling.
- Use reusable oil filters.
- Use aqueous parts washers and brake cleaners instead of solvents.
- Use recycled extended-life antifreeze. Recycle antifreeze on or off-site or through a mobile service.
- Consider non-toxic coolant substitutes if compatible with vehicle manufacturer's recommendations.
- Eliminate use of aerosol cans and replace with refillable spray bottles.
- Whenever possible, purchase products that are made with recycled content and are recyclable.
- Clean up spills immediately, using dry cleanup techniques.
- Do not use detergents.
- Reduce wash water volume and contamination by following EPA guidelines for floor cleanup.
Facilities and General Housekeeping
- Capture fluids for recycling/re-refining.
- Oil/water separators - properly maintain, minimize loads and use bioremediation.
- Eliminate floor drains if possible.
- Seal shop floors to avoid absorption of spills.
- Keep waste streams separate.
- Recycle spent lead-acid batteries, scrap metal and any other recyclable waste.
- Reduce water usage by repairing all leaks and installing flow control devices and shut-off nozzles.
- Optimize building operations, including retrofitting lighting and ensuring proper use of space heaters.
Maintaining vehicles increases their fuel efficiency, reliability, and decreases pollutants emitted. Many products used in vehicle repair are classified as hazardous waste or are otherwise harmful to the environment and people. These products, combined with common shop operations, contribute to water contamination, air pollution, smog formation, ozone depletion, greenhouse gasemissions and depletion of nonrenewable resources. Severe and/or permanent health problems are also associated with exposure to auto shop products. Leftover products that can be recycled often end up in the landfill. By maintaining a vehicle less repairs are needed, reducing water and air pollutants, the depletion of nonrenewable resources, unnecessary exposure to auto shop products, and fewer leftover products.
To successfully implement environmentally sound fleet maintenance and repair operations, an organization must:
- Create and adhere to maintenance schedules for fleet vehicles
- Assess shop waste, both hazardous and non-hazardous
- Research products, vendors and service providers
- Implement best environmental practices or work with contracted shops to establish these practices
- Train employees on new techniques and practices
- Track progress in waste reduction and pollution prevention
- Stay apprised of new developments to continually achieve best environmental practices
- Publicize efforts and accomplishments
- Reduce greenhouse gas emissions and air pollution
- Prevent water and soil contamination
- Reduce waste and conserve nonrenewable resources
- Increase fuel efficiency
- Save money through reduced waste, operational costs, regulatory fees and disposal costs
- Prevent need for many repairs and extend vehicle life
- Increase health and safety of employees and decrease liability
- Decrease regulatory pressures
- Realize product performance comparable to or greater than conventional options
Implementation of environmentally sound fleet maintenance and repair lowers overall risk from environmental, financial and safety perspectives. Failure to heed manufacturer's recommendations when selecting products may negatively impact performance.
Sustainability officers, fleet managers, procurement officers
Preventive maintenance reduces the cost of fleet care by reducing the frequency and magnitude of repairs and extending vehicle life. Products and equipment involved in this lesson are competitively priced or generally result in cost reductions that lead to short payback periods. Overall savings are usually realized by some combination of reduced hazardous waste fees, disposal costs, purchasing costs, labor and waste.
- Aqueous cleaning units range from $700 to $9,300. Payback periods are typically two years or less
- Antifreeze recycling units result in a short payback period when compared to off-site recycling costs, as on-site recycling reduces raw material purchased. Mobile antifreeze recycling services may be expensive
- Reusable filters range in price from $65 to $300 depending on vehicle size. Payback period ranges from one to three years. Monthly costs for bioremediation in oil/water separators range from $75 to $130
Choosing the Best Route
Selecting the most appropriate route to get from one location to another location, otherwise known as route optimization, can increase the overall efficiency of a vehicle fleet and improve customer service. Through route optimization, UPS has saved 100 million miles since 2003, reducing its overall energy consumption and extending the life of its vehicles.
Organizations can use technology to minimize the amount of wasted energy and effort used to operate their fleets. For example, organizations can select routes that minimize idle time waiting for lights and turns, reducing fuel use even though the number of miles driven may be the same. Organizations can keep more vehicles off the road by analyzing how routes can be better consolidated. Selecting the most appropriate route can also reduce the time and mileage driven to reach destinations.
An organization can easily implement route optimization through basic analysis. Additional effort may be required if organizations want to use more sophisticated software and/or consultants for route optimization.
The benefits of route optimization include:
- Reduced energy consumption
- Extended vehicle life through reduced wear and tear
- Reduced driver effort
Without follow-through and training, the skills needed to implement this program and the benefits of implementing the program may be lost over time. When first implementing route optimization, drivers may miss stops, creating additional effort.
In-house or outsourced fleet management department
The costs of analysis, software, training and staff time are moderate.
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- Fleet Management Analysis
- Fleet Vehicle Management Audit: Berkeley CA