Fuel Management

Seattle Maximizes Technology to Improve Operations

Today’s technology can provide a number of advantages, but only when used as intended and to maximum potential. By identifying how to fully utilize its information technology system, the City of Seattle was able to increase efficiency in its operations and achieve savings.

June 2011, Government Fleet - Feature

by Stephen Bennett

The City of Seattle retrained employees on the existing technology systems to ensure the resources were being used to their full potential.
The City of Seattle retrained employees on the existing technology systems to ensure the resources were being used to their full potential.

 

AT A GLANCE

By maximizing the use of its information technology system, the City of Seattle was able to:

  • Generate better quality data.
  • Monitor vehicle and fuel use more accurately.
  • Identify underutilized equipment and remove or re-assign as needed.

 

The yearned-for toys of yesteryear accumulate in many homes, played with the day they are received, maybe longer, but eventually abandoned and then forgotten. Information technology and software programs can meet much the same fate. They are acquired, implemented, users learn what they need to know to do their jobs - and that's it. As time goes by, users become less and less inclined to "play" with it and learn what more it can do. So an organization, such as a government fleet, that isn't maximizing the system only realizes a fraction of the benefits.

For the City of Seattle, fleet managers realized they could do more with the information technology (IT) they had, and by doing so, reap operational and money-saving benefits.

Ensuring Proper Use of Technology

The City of Seattle's fleet team, which includes Nanci Lien, fleet administration manager for Seattle, and Dave Seavey, fleet services director, contacted the City's IT vendor for help re-integrating and maximizing the system already in place. This involved assistance with correcting bad habits that had developed, reinforcing good habits, and generally instilling a stricter adherence to protocol so the system would yield more of the expected benefits.

The City fleet is comprised of 4,000 pieces of equipment, between 3,000-4,000 of which are used by City employees. This year, it is acquiring 26 Nissan LEAF electric vehicles and creating a recharging infrastructure for them, with $1.5 million it received in federal stimulus money, Lien reported.

According to Lien, she told AssetWorks, the City's IT vendor, they didn't need any new "toys" and already had "a lot of toys we haven't been playing with."

The re-tooling effort began in late 2009. "Our theme was 'data matters,' " said Lien. In reviewing its use of AssetWorks' system, FleetFocus, "We found our data was not as clean as it could be."

The FleetFocus system tracks vehicle and equipment maintenance, including processing repair and preventive maintenance work orders, capturing operating expenses (e.g., fuel, oil, and licensing), and offers billing and tracking for vehicle equipment usage.

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