September 2010, Government Fleet - Cover Story
Through the City of Moline, Rock Island Arsenal is able to get reliable maintenance service for vehicles, that meets National Fire Protection Association standards.
For some fleet maintenance facilities, taking on more work might seem like a nightmare. With over-stressed technicians and too-few resources, adding work to the pile might only make matters worse. However, insourcing more work from neighboring fleets can actually improve operations. The City of Moline, Ill., is one example.
Partnership Fills Maintenance Gaps
Recently, the City of Moline's neighbor, the Rock Island Arsenal (RIA), sought out the City's maintenance services for its firefighting apparatus. The partnership proved beneficial to both parties: The military installation found reliable maintenance service for emergency vehicles that met National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) standards, and the City was able to add a member to its staff, while decreasing costs and improving fleet efficiency.
The partnership began when a member of the Arsenal staff contacted one of the City's fire crew, inquiring about services the City provided its fire department. This prompted the RIA to contact the Fleet Services Division. "They were looking for a facility that had EVT-certified technicians who could perform repairs and maintenance on their equipment, that meets the NFPA standards for apparatus maintenance," said J.D. Schulte, fleet manager, City of Moline.
Realizing the City could offer the maintenance services Arsenal's Fire Department needed, the City of Moline and the Rock Island Arsenal Contracting Center established a blanket purchase agreement (BPA), renewed annually.
"The partnership created with Moline City Maintenance has been extremely beneficial for our department," said Joe Heim, deputy fire chief, Rock Island Arsenal. "Not only are we ensuring compliance with NFPA, but our apparatus downtime has been significantly reduced. Moline's facility is second to none at taking care of their customers."
Insourcing Proves Mutually Beneficial
Prior to its partnership with the RIA, the City of Moline's fleet services division had minimal staff, performed maintenance on fleet units during the day, and occasionally outsourced work, which increased vehicle downtime. With the new RIA contract, the City was able to add a technician to its staff to handle more routine maintenance jobs at a lower labor rate. This allowed the division to take on additional work and allocate resources more efficiently.
Previously, technicians with specialized skills and higher labor rates worked on a range of vehicles; now those technicians work on specialty vehicles such as Arsenal's fire apparatus, which more effectively puts their knowledge to work.
"We were already at minimum staffing before taking on the additional work, so we knew we would have to staff up," Schulte said. "Adding the additional billable hours and having a technician start at the entry level of the pay scale allows us to lower our labor rate for all our customers by nearly $5 per hour. We are also able to assign high-end work to our EVT techs, which helps keep our labor rate low."
With more work and a larger staff, the city is able to operate its maintenance facility an additional 10 hours per day — from 8 ½ hours in 2000 to 18 ½ hours today.