Keeping trucks on track
Last year, the Johnson County, Ind., Highway Department started a program to improve its fleet operations by reducing fuel costs and wasteful vehicle use. After installing fleet-tracking technology on half of its fleet, the department saved $15,000 on fuel in the first year.
Johnson County’s Highway Department operates 30 vehicles, including dump trucks, pickup trucks and sedans. The department’s director, Gary Vandegriff, had been looking for areas in which to improve fleet performance. Early last year, the department selected a fleet management system from San Diego-based Networkfleet that transmits data wirelessly from a vehicle’s engine computer and a global positioning system (GPS) to a remote database. Department managers can login to a secure web page to view vehicle information, including location, speed, stops/starts, idle time, and odometer readings, among other data. They also receive automatic email alerts and scheduled reports about vehicles.
The department installed the technology on 15 vehicles (10 dump trucks, a mini-van, three pickup trucks and a sedan) and immediately began monitoring the vehicles’ performance compared to performance records from the previous four years. “If idle time is above the four-year trend average for a given vehicle, I can drill down immediately to determine the context and take reasonable action,” Vandegriff says.
After the fleet-tracking equipment was installed, diesel fuel use for the 15 vehicles averaged 4,931 gallons per month, compared to an average of 5,555 gallons per month for those vehicles during the previous four years. Unleaded fuel use also declined compared to the four-year monthly average. “At an average $1.85 per gallon for diesel and $1.80 per gallon for unleaded gas, we calculated our fuel consumption savings at nearly $15,000 for the first year,” Vandegriff says. “Most of the savings was due to operational efficiencies, such as reduced idling time, odd-hour use and speeding.”
The technology also has helped exonerate employees and resolve customer complaints by verifying vehicle activity times and locations. For example, Vandegriff received a call from a resident during a blizzard, claiming that crews were not providing the level of service necessary to keep roads clear. Using the fleet-tracking data, he determined that crews had been plowing appropriately but heavy winds and back-to-back storms had undermined their efforts. “Based on plowing times, locations and weather patterns in the area, I could explain to the customer that as soon as we removed the snow, it came back, making it appear we weren’t doing our job,” Vandegriff says. “Without [the] data, we wouldn’t have been able to do that.”
Project: Fleet management and operations
Jurisdiction: Johnson County, Ind.
Agency: Highway Department
Vendor: San Diego-based Networkfleet
Date began: February 2009