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Fleet managers work under constraints in conservative business plans that often delay the purchase of new equipment, extend planned periods of component change-outs, and almost always reduce staffing. But they still must have their equipment ready for on-time delivery and high-quality production.

Many producers opt to hedge their answers in maintenance staff costs by increasing their dependence on service vendors. This decision is an attempt to reduce bottom-line fixed costs. But unless your fleet maintenance operation is already efficient, a move to outside staff may be more expensive.

In his 30-plus year career of either managing fleets or advising companies on how to organize their staff, John E. Dolce, a New Jersey-based fleet management consultant, has discovered one key element to answering the outsourcing/internal workload question. According to Dolce, the decision of whether to increase a fleet's dependence on vendor-supplied maintenance must be based on key management points, not just what appear to be bottom-line numbers. He provides four tips that can help fleet managers in balancing outsourced and internal staffing needs.

The article includes a list of functions fleet managers should consider outsourcing.