Home Topics Fleet maintenance What is fleet maintenance?
Explore IBM's fleet maintenance solution Subscribe to Sustainability Updates
Illustration with collage of pictograms of face profile, leaf, cloud
What is fleet maintenance?

Fleet maintenance is how fleet operators and other organizations ensure the vehicles they depend on to deliver products and services are available and operational. Good fleet maintenance often requires a comprehensive fleet maintenance management process to maximize operations.

Fleet maintenance versus fleet maintenance management

Fleet maintenance is the overall description of how organizations approach vehicle uptime. Fleet maintenance management is the process by which fleet managers ensure the availability of their fleets to complete tasks, such as transporting equipment, raw materials, finished products, or people.

Organizations that depend on a fleet need both a macro and micro view of the status of each vehicle. This allows them to accurately plan their services based on which vehicles are operational, which require immediate repairs, and which ones need replacing.

Increasingly, companies are choosing to run their fleets on real-time fleet maintenance software, such as a computerized maintenance management system. This software can automate a 10,000-foot and extremely granular view of the availability of their fleet at any time, keeping a clear focus on maintenance services and operational costs.

A comprehensive fleet maintenance management program equips organizations with tools to address regulatory requirements, extend automotive vehicle asset life through preventive maintenance, monitor equipment status, and extend parts and inventory management.

Sharpen Your Manufacturing Competitive Edge With Smarter Asset Management

Learn how next-generation detection devices shift asset management services from routine maintenance regimes to predictive, AI-powered processes.

Related content

Register for the guide on sustainability trends

Which vehicles benefit from fleet maintenance management?

Commercial vehicles from cars to boats require regular maintenance, of which organizations must keep track. While vehicle maintenance might vary depending on the type of vehicle, all of the below benefit from participation in a fleet maintenance management program.


Knowing how aircraft will perform is critical in an industry where something going wrong has disastrous consequences. The aircraft industry pioneered many advancements in asset maintenance management, and it remains critical today to use these processes to keep aircraft safe and ready to use. 

Boats and ships

The global supply chain depends on the reliability and uptime of these important engines of commerce. In recent years, we've seen how the lack of availability of shipping vehicles can have a disastrous effect on the overall global economy.


Both short-haul and long-haul trucks experience depreciation and other wear and tear that fleet operators must monitor.

Public transportation vehicles

Citizens judge their elected officials on how reliable their public transportation is, so governments must have a holistic view of the condition and availability of their buses, trains and other transportation vehicles.

Motorcycles and e-bikes

The rise of real-time grocery and product delivery services and the increase in delivery from the pandemic have increased the company's dependency on motorcycles and e-Bikes.


Cars are valuable delivery vehicles for many types of companies and can run without issues for many years if maintenance is handled correctly.

Key components of fleet maintenance management

Today, advanced fleet management software and metrics have significantly simplified fleet maintenance management. The right software streamlines workflows by using artificial intelligence (AI) and other advanced technologies to assess the state of any fleet vehicle better and ensure the most uptime for any particular vehicle.

Cycle counting

A method of inventory management that divides up the number of items or assets counted daily so all items can be counted by an identified deadline (for example, ten items a day from a list of 500 over 50 days). This enables organizations to maintain a comprehensive view of all the components instrumental to any specific vehicle without undertaking a costly weekly inspection of every specific asset.

Fuel tank management notifications

The right fleet management software automates fleet vehicle consumption of fuel while assessing the existing storage of fuel limiting unnecessary refueling and avoiding the likelihood of vehicles running out of fuel.

Life cycle costing

This financial tool helps companies understand the bottom line cost of an item, from initial purchase and maintenance to retirement.

Motor pool management

A 360°-view of your entire fleet helps you understand vehicles on hand, their current status, and which ones are out for either delivery or service so that you can make the right approvals.

Work orders

Organizations need to have a complete vantage of preventive maintenance schedules, which include requested maintenance tasks, by whom and when. This enables them to better assess how many vehicles will be operational and how long it will take for the ones in service to get fixed. It also creates a better opportunity to manage the human capital responsible for fixing the fleet. It can also track minor, but important things like oil changes and small corrective fixes to keep the fleet vehicle running smoothly.

Fleet tracking

Fleet providers must have real-time information on where their vehicles are on the road. Fleet tracking uses telematics to enable fleet operators to track the location, status and activity of a fleet of vehicles. This is often achieved through GPS tracking devices installed in each vehicle that transmit data to centralized software.

Software updates

The rise of electronic vehicles means that fleet operators will need to have a comprehensive plan to manage updates to vehicle operating systems. This includes deciding when they should update their software and how they should roll it out, whether all at once or by beta testing with a few vehicles to avoid a bug-related shutdown.

Benefits of fleet maintenance management

Fleet managers and operators need a cost-effective, holistic view of the availability of their fleets to complete tasks. In today's global supply chain, fleet managers require absolute precision in knowing how many trucks and vehicles are available. A solid fleet maintenance program ensures the availability of all types of vehicles.

Having a handle on fleets will become even more important as more companies move to electronic vehicles and require more specific real-time analytics about the performance of their vehicles and what updates they need to perform as expected.

Advanced fleet maintenance management provides several key benefits for fleet operators and organizations that can provide a competitive advantage over those using more rudimentary or manual processes.

Positive vehicle inspection outcomes

A poor vehicle inspection can ground vehicles, even if they "work" fine. No business benefits from removing fleet vehicles from circulation because they failed inspections. Excellent fleet management provides either predictive or preventive maintenance.

Achievement of ESG goals

By tracking fuel consumption and other diagnostic data, fleet providers can make changes to minimize their economic footprint and prevent fleet assets from breaking down, eliminating the need to purchase new fleet equipment or brand-new vehicles earlier than necessary.

Customer satisfaction

Knowing which vehicles in a fleet need routine maintenance and when lets companies manage the entire operations, from estimated delivery times to expected supplies on hand, and enables government agencies to better inform their citizens about the availability of services. By implementing fleet maintenance management solutions, companies improve upkeep, which helps to avoid costly cancellations and increases the number of people they can serve, ultimately creating a larger group of satisfied customers.

Better inventory management

Organizations with large fleet sizes and companies that supply fleet vehicles likely need to have a full inventory of replacement parts, so they can quickly address any issue with a specific vehicle.

Reduced costs

Optimally running fleet services with more vehicles in service and fewer breakdowns or downtime means more on-time deliveries and services provided, leading to higher revenues and lower costs. Well-oiled fleet operations increase vehicle uptime, extending asset life. By reducing maintenance needs before becoming absolutely necessary, the company decreases overall repair costs and drives down the costs of maintaining an entire fleet.

Challenges of fleet maintenance management

While the positives of a fleet maintenance management system significantly outweigh the negatives, there are some issues any organization should consider if it wants to adopt it.

Upfront pricing

Establishing a modern fleet maintenance management process will require some high upfront costs, including adding telematics to vehicles, purchasing or licensing software, and either reskilling the workforce or needing to hire new talent. As with other advanced software-driven maintenance processes, organizations can expect to make up their upfront costs quickly based on requiring less unnecessary maintenance, higher uptime, and other benefits of having a comprehensive view of their fleets.

Fleet complexity

This is dependent on how diverse an organization's fleet is. For large fleets with a wide variety of vehicles, there will need to be different approaches to each type of vehicle. But it also remains true that the organizations with the most diverse fleet of vehicles stand to benefit the most from fleet maintenance management.

Changing organizational culture

Fleet workers, especially those who have maintained a specific system for years or decades, may be reluctant to learn a new approach. It's incumbent upon the executives to invest in upskilling training and painstakingly explain the new system's benefits to win over converts.

Keeping up to date

Once an organization begins transforming towards a more advanced and software-guided fleet maintenance management approach, it will likely need to keep up-to-date on new technologies, update and replace hardware, and otherwise manage its tech stack. But every new update will make the entire process run more effectively, leading to even more cost savings and, ultimately, profitability.

Fleet management products
Asset Management Transportation asset management with IBM® Maximo® Application Suite

Optimize the productivity of transportation assets with a full suite of solutions for operations, maintenance, monitoring, quality and reliability.

Learn more Take a tour of IBM Maximo
Fleet management resources

Learn more about topics related to fleet maintenance and asset management. 

Predictive maintenance. Predictable trains.

Downer and IBM keep passengers moving safely, reliably and comfortably with updated, sustainable asset management.

Data is key to intelligent asset management

Collecting and deriving insights from data across disparate applications, legacy databases, machines, sensors and other sources can be complex but intelligent asset management can help.

What is preventive maintenance?

Preventive maintenance is the act of performing regularly scheduled maintenance activities to help prevent unexpected failures in the future.

Take the next step

Unlock the full potential of your enterprise assets with IBM Maximo Application Suite by unifying maintenance, inspection and reliability systems into one platform. It’s an integrated cloud-based solution that harnesses the power of AI, IoT and advanced analytics to maximize asset performance, extend asset lifecycles, minimize operational costs and reduce downtime.

Explore Maximo Book a live demo