Automated Pool System Saves Soft Costs

September 2008, Government Fleet - Feature

by Grace Lauron - Also by this author

The Cities of Kelowna, B.C., and Inglewood, Calif., and the County of Santa Barbara, Calif., are just a few fleets that have discovered the benefits of using an automated pool system.

Productivity Increases

Prior to purchasing an automated pool system in 2004, the City of Kelowna had a clerk manage the keys for pool vehicles. “The office was located on the fourth floor of City Hall, and the keys were kept on a peg board with a sign-out sheet,” said Dale Beaudry, roads and equipment superintendent for the City.

Beaudry cited several benefits of the automated system:

Reduced downtime. Staffers no longer spend time looking for lost or misplaced keys. “Staff would leave them in their pockets or lying on their desks rather than climbing the stairs to the fourth floor,” said Beaudry.

Added convenience. Keys are now stored at the same location as the car and can be accessed after hours, eliminating the need for employees to use their personal vehicles.

Increased security. Some employees had extra keys made and took vehicles without a reservation. An employee with a reservation would pick up the key, then find the car missing upon reaching the parking lot. Now, the immobilizer does not permit the car to be started without the use of the fob attached to the main key ring.

Lower maintenance and repair. Reservations are spread out among all cars, preventing drivers from overusing their favorites and thus reducing the amount of wear and tear on a smaller number of cars.

Maximizing Resources

Efficiency is yet another advantage gained using an automated system. “By tracking actual utilization, we have been able to monitor vehicle availability which eliminated the need to purchase two new cars,” said Beaudry.

Motor pool services have also increased efficiency for the County of Santa Barbara without increasing staff, use of underutilized vehicles has grown, and the number of assigned vehicles has been reduced, also helping to alleviate parking problems.

Fleet Manager Mitch Guenthart encouraged departments to turn in underutilized vehicles and transition to the motor pool, beginning in 2006.

By automating the pool, the County offers employees online reservation for motor pool vehicles and 24/7 access to the motor pool via an electronic key holder strong box installed at the car pool location.

The City of Inglewood has been a satisfied customer as well, according to Fleet Manager Rick Longobart. The City streamlined its motor pool reservation process by improving efficiency, thereby improving utilization and reducing fleet size. This has decreased labor, maintenance, and capital outlay costs, creating a savings of $20,000 in the first operating year, said Longobart.

Ventura County, Calif., tops this figure with savings in excess of $50,000 every year, according to Ed Smith, president of Agile Access Control Inc.

Keys are located near motor pool vehicles. “Drivers simply go to the key control system to pickup and return keys, said Deb Watkis, Starr Commonwealth asset mgr. supervisor. (Shown above) University of Washington features their KeyManager site.

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