Fleet and facility collaboration breeds efficiency
Fleet and facility teams often conduct their work independently from each other in local governments. Yet in doing so, “Fleet and facilities teams often fail to recognize the benefits that come from cooperation,” says David Dunn, division manager for Fleet & Facilities Management for Orlando, Fla. On the other hand, he says when the two operations work together, the teamwork can lead to more cost-effective and sustainable government solutions.
Dunn says he has traditionally kept his focus on government building envelopes and their associated support systems, rather than on operational equipment. Then, a little more than three years ago, he was charged with managing both fleet and facility operations.
“As I took on the responsibilities of fleet operations, I saw a lot of things on the fleet side that facilities didn’t know about and developed a unique perspective on some operational equipment that previously would have gone unnoticed by me,” he says.
For example, Orlando’s fleet operations had a long-standing problem with storing extra tires for all of the city’s vehicles. Between the heavy and light equipment sides, fleet operations had to give up two mechanic bays to store tires, and they kept looking for a better storage solution. Because he was knowledgeable about the problem, Dunn says when facilities operations started installing new equipment to make the fleet maintenance building more energy efficient, his team was simultaneously able to free up space to create a better vertical tire storage solution for the fleet team. Ultimately, the city benefited because it was able to reduce costs by installing energy-efficient equipment, and mechanics were more productive because two bays were freed-up for maintenance and repairs, he says.
Dunn admits that when fleets and facilities teams don’t fall under the same leadership, it can be difficult to bridge the operations. “Fleet and facility are not always open to collaborative opportunities,” Dunn says.
In this case, Nate Boyd, city energy project manager, suggests technology can be the catalyst that brings the two sides of the house together. “LED light not only reduces energy use, but if placed correctly it also can provide fleet maintenance staff with more light,” he says.
“People like to take advantage of greater resources, so technology deployment can lead to more cross-talk,” Dunn says.
Orlando’s facilities staff uses a web-based system to manage building energy use and monitor temperature levels. This same system also helps the furniture, fixtures and equipment staff to repair equipment more efficiently. “If there is a problem with an air conditioner at the fire station No. 2, rather than loading a lot of equipment onto a truck and spending all day at the station trying to troubleshoot the problem, the operations team can look up the building and find out what equipment is onsite, look at the air conditioner, who manufactured it, determine how much Freon it needs, and pull up as-built drawings and original factory service manuals through the web-based system. What that’s done is reduced amount of hours necessary for most of these work order tasks because the operations team can control, monitor and troubleshoot equipment remotely,” he says.
If municipalities are having trouble getting the building and operations teams to work together, staff members should ask themselves, “Are we efficient as can be?” Dunn says. “Collaboration creates opportunities to apply efficiencies — the bottom line is important to everyone.”