|At a Glance
Three of the 2012 Elite Fleets have been continuing in the tradition of fleet excellence:
- The City of Portland, Ore., is offering pay compensation for ASE Master Mechanic certifications.
- The City of Troy, Mich., stepped up insourcing.
- Hillsborough County, Fla., is analyzing vehicle performance data to extend lifecycles if possible.
What happens after a public fleet achieves No. 1 in the 100 Best Fleets program? In addition to becoming “Elite Fleets” for five years, they take on the roles of judges in the 100 Best Fleets program, and increased exposure allows for more opportunities.
However, the Elite Fleets continue to contend with the same challenges other fleets face. Three of the 2012 Elite Fleets — City of Portland, Ore., City of Troy, Mich., and Hillsborough County, Fla. — persist in battling industry challenges, but they’re also continuing in the tradition of excellence, accomplishing such actions as increasing insourcing, improving technician incentives, and succeeding during audits.
City of Portland Boosts ASE-Certified Technician Numbers
A high-priority initiative for the City of Portland, Ore., City Fleet, named the No. 1 fleet in 2011, is strengthening the technical expertise of its technician team. The ultimate goal is achieving a designation such as an ASE Blue Seal of Excellence.
Fleet Manager John Hunt, CPFP, gained a valuable incentive toward that goal last year when he and his Portland team successfully negotiated with the labor union for premium pay compensation to technicians holding ASE Master Technician status.
“In an unprecedented motivational program, mechanical staff now are offered $160 per month for ASE Master certification,” Hunt said. Since the pay incentive program began, the number of ASE Master Technicians has quadrupled.
Fleet staff serves city bureaus with a total of 2,950 units and is funded by a $17 million operating budget.
According to Hunt, the fleet operation must deal with such obstacles as budget constraints (a recent 8% reduction), technician shortage (increase in equipment with a cutback of six staff members since 2001) and training, a scarcity of specialized tools and diagnostic equipment, and aging facilities.
Strategies Hunt has employed to surmount those obstacles include leveraging technology to promote efficiencies, increasing training activities, proactive business planning, and enhancing communications and collaborations with management and customers.
Technology improvements include upgrading to a Web-based fleet management system to increase efficiencies and streamline the vehicle repair process. Additionally, a computer-based technical training program has been implemented.
Expanded insourcing activities help compensate for reduced budgets, while a 24-hour, Monday-Friday, main garage operation minimizes vehicle downtime.
As a result of the City’s ranking in the 100 Best Fleets program, Hunt described several networking and learning opportunities helping his fleet operation remain a leader in the public sector. Notably, the Department of Homeland Security invited Hunt to join the agency’s Sustainability and Efficiency Task Force and share Portland’s fleet expertise. Hunt also was appointed to the City of Portland’s Office of Management and Finance Strategic Planning Committee.
“These opportunities offer new avenues to learn the latest and best information as new networking relationships are developed,” Hunt said.