Fleets Find Savings with Motor Pool Technology
Five fleets share their success stories in motor pool management; improvements range from reduced fleet size to enhanced customer service.
November 2011, Government Fleet - Cover Story
Many systems offer vehicle maintenance tracking as an option. Vehicle mileage is automatically updated in the system, and it sends out maintenance alerts once vehicles reach a certain odometer reading.
Ancell stated that one of the benefits of the State of Michigan's motor pool technology is vehicle accountability. With the Web-based system, "we have greater control now," he said. "If someone hasn't picked up a vehicle in two hours [after the scheduled time], we can cancel it." Administrators can easily see which vehicles are overdue for pickup on the dashboard, as the reservation displays in red.
In addition to the central pool, standalone systems allow Ventura County to create small pools for departments in various locations throughout the County, usually consisting of two to four vehicles.
Another benefit Ancell cited is flexibility. Because the other pool is equipment-specific, customers need to able to pick up the exact unit for their needs, and the system allows them to reserve an exact vehicle online. Ancell, with his passenger fleet, has more flexibility with which vehicles go out, and he ensures that vehicles are rotated. The user chooses a vehicle class when making a reservation (medium sedan, large sedan, or minivan), and the system automatically assigns him or her with the vehicle that has been on the lot the longest, Ancell said.
The State chooses to keep its own maintenance records, and staff makes sure odometer readings are updated in a database weekly. These odometer readings are used to determine maintenance intervals, and staff can easily take vehicles out of rotation for routine preventive maintenance procedures, according to Ancell.
Creating Better Utilization
One benefit many fleet managers cited with their systems is the availability of information - specifically, utilization reports that can usually be pulled at any time. This allows fleet managers to determine whether their pool utilization is high enough to warrant the number of vehicles. Ancell from the State of Michigan said his fleet's goal is 70-80 percent utilization, but actual numbers can vary depending on day of week or season and rise as high as 100 percent.
Ancell monitors utilization and talks to customers to see if they expect use patterns to change to determine the right size of the fleet. As utilization decreases after Thanksgiving, fleet sells vehicles and reduces its motor pool size, and as utilization increases in March, fleet purchases new vehicles to meet that need.
Bryan Flansburg, CAFM, director of transportation for the University of Colorado Boulder (UC Boulder), said automation of the university's motor pool fleet of 47 vehicles has led to a 5-percent utilization increase due to more availability, particularly during non-business hours. The previous drop-box return meant that when drivers dropped off keys during off-hours, the keys would sit there all night or weekend until an employee could confirm that they were returned and be available to hand them out again.
"We couldn't dispatch that vehicle because it was still dispatched to someone else. Now the [AssetWorks KeyValet] system automatically knows, yes, here's a car, now I can give it back out again, so we have better utilization," Flansburg said.
With the system, Flansburg is finding 38 percent of vehicles are dispatched during off-hours, and 53 percent are returned during off-hours.
Jennings finds that specific vehicle classes are getting more use than others at North Carolina State University. Being able to break down utilization by class type allows him to view which vehicle types are performing better - utilization rates for buses, for example, are often at 100 percent.