Since many years school buses are considered as the safest mode of transportation for children of the age group.
These buses come in a multitude of shapes and designs and the governmental agency that is in charge of a locality has specifications regarding the age that for each of these buses to be in service.
The total maintenance cost of the buses that a school incurs depends on the size of the fleet, capacities, designs, etc.
Whatever be the number of buses that a school operates, proper tracking and sorting of information are key to efficiently manage the vehicles. However, the reality is not as simple to just sorting and tracking. School transportation operations consist of complicated operations.
Efficiency is the need of the hour
There are few schools that do not use computerization to improve their efficiency in many functional areas of the school such as fee collection, attendance management, payroll, etc. Bus fleet maintenance software can be an extension of this package.
Even if a school owns just three buses, with limited inventory, they are required to track usage of parts to study breakdown patterns, vendor price histories and warranty statuses.
Other things that need to be measured include tracking fuel usage, scheduling preventive maintenance of the buses, prepare work orders, generate purchase orders for parts and print various reports.
With computers becoming more affordable by the day, it is important that schools put them to good use and simply their jobs and improve their efficiency at the same time.
The trickiest part in finding the right software package is as every school has its own requirements and it is necessary that their selected software should meet all their requirements.
Given below are some features that authorities can look out for in school bus fleet maintenance software.
The software should be compatible with the fleet. It should allow for multiple shop locations and a network environment if the requirement is such.
- Industry Specific
Some readymade software are meant for trucking fleets and may not suit school bus fleet requirements. Therefore, it is important to be clear about what the program does before purchase and install.
- Notify Reorders
A key feature of the bus fleet maintenance program is to notify authorities when the stock reaches a low level. This enables early re-ordering from the part of the bus maintenance staff. This serves to reduce vehicle downtimes and improves operational efficiencies. Ultimately, this leads to lowered costs.
- Technical Support
The cost of the software widely varies and depends on many factors. Some of them even charge an annual fee for support and upgrades. However, there should be technical support available from the creators of the software.
It may not be possible for the school authorities to load, launch and generate reports without any help from the software company. At this stage, it is a good idea to confer with other schools that use the same company’s software.
Any school bus maintenance software helps schools (no matter what their operational size is) manage the bus fleets of any size and their preventive care. This is very essential for the proper maintenance of the vehicle.
- Preventive Maintenance
The software package/ platform is usually designed to inform the users, well in advance, of the work to be done prior to the vehicles becoming unreliable in their operation.
This feature would help to identify upcoming preventive maintenance work for each of the buses in the fleet and consequently help the authorities to anticipate expenses in this regard so as to manage the costs.
- Work Orders
The operators of such a package can also generate maintenance work-orders for labor assignments and cost-efficient parts.
This feature helps to track the different costs that are linked to fuel, spare parts and labor. Reports on work orders, usage of parts, and the time taken for repair by technicians help to highlight key problems and labor savings.
- Inventory Tracking
Installation and use of bus fleet maintenance software warn the users well ahead when specific part’s inventory is low.
This makes inventory tracking and replenishment of spare parts more organized and therefore more sustainable. Because the inventory of spare parts is regularly tracked, it is easier to decrease unexpected expenses and manage the costs.
- Fuel Summaries and Tracking
The program can be designed to notify the amount of fuel used per bus per trip (on the basis of mileage covered) and track overall fuel costs. Relevant reports can also be at the desired frequencies.
- Brake and Tire Maintenance
The mileage that is recorded for a specific bus can help to track other factors such as wearing-out of brakes, tires, rotors, depth of the tread, pads, etc.
- Warranty notifications
The users can be notified of the warranty status of a part that is being replaced.
Another feature that can be put to good use is being able to define many different preventive maintenance schedules for the different buses.
School bus maintenance operations are increasingly more data-driven than times earlier on.
Transport departments that have implemented software solutions for the maintenance of bus fleets and their operations ultimately improve on safety efficiencies, extended life of the vehicles, reduced vehicle downtime and implementation of optimal vehicle replacements.