The value of fleet management studies to government administrators
Fleet management is one of a municipality’s most vital services. An effective fleet management program will not only protect the investment a town or city makes in vehicles and equipment, but more importantly, will ensure its motor vehicle fleet is safe for personnel and is maintained in a high state of readiness.
Across the country, municipal officials are taking a fresh look at how their fleet management programs function. Comprehensive fleet management studies are helping communities review their existing operations, and reduce operational costs and fuel consumption. Fleet management studies thoroughly evaluate all aspects of an existing fleet, and then recommend improvements in particular trouble areas.
Some of the recommendations can include:
• Implementing a more efficient and organized system to handle work orders and maintenance requests. That can include taking a better approach to tracking and streamlining repair data; granting personnel better access to information like hours, mileage data and vehicle use; determining correct fleet size and composition; implementing idle reduction programs; and fleet downsizing and maintenance scheduling.
• Re-evaluating vehicle replacement policies. That can involve developing a better approach to accumulating and assessing internally tracked data related to repair, maintenance and operating costs.
• Re-thinking fuel and parts management, the productivity of mechanics, warranty management, and partial or total outsourcing of services.
• Implementing a centralized management program. For years, many municipal officials believed that the unique characteristics of each department meant separate fleet management programs were necessary. Today, the prevailing trend is toward municipalities consolidating fleet management programs under a city or town manager. To achieve that, municipalities are developing garages for vehicles of every kind (emergency, fire, police, water department and sanitation), dedicating space to particular departments, and employing mechanics withbroad areas of expertise, such as automotive or heavy equipment. A centralized approach can lead to improved cost accounting, better data collection, and less duplication of maintenance and repair efforts. It also can generate substantial savings in repair costs and increase service levels, as more mechanics will be available to perform work.
Motor vehicles are essential to the delivery of most municipal services. A comprehensive fleet management study will ensure municipal departments canprovide those services in a timely and safe manner.
Roger Thompson is a former fleet manager who has been providing fleet management services for the past 24 years, including currently with Peabody, Mass-based Weston & Sampson. He has pioneered facilities programming and planning services from an operational standpoint, and assisted a range of state and local government clients in programming and planning facilities, and in evaluating and re-engineering fleet maintenance operations. He can be reached at email@example.com.