Chicago's Preventive Maintenance Goes to Reverse Auction

November 21, 2013, by Thi Dao

About 1,000 Class 1-3 vehicles fall are included in the City of Chicago's preventive maintenance outsourcing contract.
About 1,000 Class 1-3 vehicles fall are included in the City of Chicago's preventive maintenance outsourcing contract.

The City of Chicago is soliciting bids for scheduled preventive maintenance (PM) services for its non-emergency Class 1-3 vehicles in an effort to reduce PM costs and vehicle downtime.

The contract affects about 1,000 vehicles, and no fleet technicians will lose their positions, said Kevin Campbell, manager of fleet services.

"We either did [PM] in-house or we've used a local shop, but we've never targeted our bid to the traditional-style maintenance services before, so we're really looking to that market segment to meet some of our maintenance needs," Campbell said.

With this contract, Campbell is hoping to solve some of the fleet's staffing issues and backlog of work while addressing vehicle downtime and maintenance concerns. The contract would also reduce costs.

The fleet is understaffed due to budget cuts, which has resulted in attrition. About 650 employees handle the work of a full staff of 800. Because of this, overloaded technicians increase vehicle downtime.

Currently, the fleet sends out 25% to 33% of preventive maintenance services for non-emergency light-duty vehicles to local shops or dealerships.

"We're looking at it as a cost savings and also as a convenience for our customers, because of the time those vehicles are typically down," Campbell added. "This would get them back in their hands hopefully quicker."

To address concerns that a fast oil change is not as thorough as a fleet PM service, the Chicago fleet will alternate between in-house services and contracted-out services for vehicles. This will allow fleet staff to conduct a more thorough PM and inspection every other time the vehicle needs service and will allow staff to evaluate the contractor's work and adjust services as needed, Campbell said.

"If we feel things are going well, we either keep it at that 1:1 ratio or possibly extend it even further," Campbell said. "For now, I've gotten a positive response from the shop managers. As long as they could see that vehicle twice per year, they would know it's been maintained the other two times. They could double-check that with the subsequent service."

About 1,000 vehicles fall under this contract out of a total fleet of 14,000 units. Campbell explained that the vehicles' gross weight must be 14,000 lbs. or lower to be included. Emergency response vehicles are exempt.

The bid specification calls for a minimum of services from the contractor including replacing and disposing oil; replacing oil filter; filling tires, windshield washer fluid, and battery with water; performing a fluid check; inspecting specified parts; lubricating the chassis; cleaning mirrors and windows; and vacuuming.

If this contract is accepted, fleet staff would inform drivers when their vehicles need preventive maintenance and also notify the selected contractor, who would communicate this to the shops. The driver would bring the vehicle in and sign for it, and the contractor would notify the fleet department at the end of each month, Campbell explained.

Because the goal of the project is to reduce downtime, the bid request specifies a one-hour turnaround for each vehicle brought in for service. The contractor must also coordinate service without appointments.

The bid request for the five-year contract opens Dec. 17. It asks bidders to submit a bid package with no pricing, because the City plans a reverse auction for qualified bidders.

Bidders must provide access to at least eight repair locations in Cook County. Campbell estimated the contract for the 1,000 vehicles for five years will be worth between $500,000 and $600,000. The contractor may request a price adjustment after one year and annually afterwards.

The full bid announcement can be found on the Chicago city website. Article 6 (p. 56) details the scope of work and specifications.

By Thi Dao


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