Fleets Discuss Solutions to 2012 Challenges
February 08, 2012
Fleet professionals gathered for dinner at the 100 Best Fleets retreat.
SANTA FE, NM - The 100 Best Fleets sponsored its first fleet retreat on Jan. 26-27. Thirty-one fleet professionals from 13 states and Canada met in Santa Fe, N.M., to determine what the challenges and solutions are for fleets in 2012. The purpose was to give managers time to think, discuss, plan, and identify proactive measures affecting their future in a relaxed environment.
The No. 1 challenge of fleet managers for 2012 is not just zero growth budgets but declining budgets. It was agreed the only way to do more with less is with technology and improved productivity. It is the old chicken and egg scenario: how do you purchase technology with no revenue?
Dave Seavey, fleet manager for the City of Seattle (the No. 1 Green Fleet for 2010), stressed the importance of planning to have and maintain replacement funds. To keep funds from being "raided," he reinvests his replacement funds (rather than letting them sit as a target to be confiscated for the general fund) in technologies that will improve his productivity and enable him to do more with less. Dave substantiated his decisions on technology during his presentation, making sure everyone understood the trade-off between depreciation and operating costs.
Government leasing was mentioned as a way to replace vehicles. One fleet needed a new pumper at around $750,000, so it amortized it for 10 years and was able to make the business case for replacement of mission-critical equipment.
Rick Longobart, fleet manager for the City of Santa Ana, Calif., and president of the regional Municipal Equipment Maintenance Association (MEMA), has combined seven different technologies onto one platform, requiring all vendors and technology partners to collaborate on the project.
Katherine Vigneau from Canada pointed out some vendors may not want to share proprietary information, so Rockwell Collins has invented an all-in-one-box called the I Force to combine different technologies such as GPS, fuel management, and dashboards.
Insourcing and outsourcing were topics of discussion. Technology partners contributed to the focused breakout sessions and structured roundtable discussions. One technology eliminates the need for RFPs in the purchasing process, saving a minimum of $5,000 per RFP.
The retreat included a tour of the only federal fleet in the Top 100 Fleets in 2011, Sandia National Laboratories, operated for the United States Department of Energy and managed by Lockheed Martin. It also featured presentations from industry suppliers, including an online live worldwide auction of equipment by Property Room and Copart, and a demonstration by digital company Samba on motor vehicles records and reports.
Pictured left to right are: Dwaine Jones, Sandia National Laboratories team supervisor, Fleet Services; Mark Crawford, Sandia National Laboratories fleet manager; Jeff Hunter, Sandia National Laboratories quality-business processes; and Roy Fitzgerald, Sandia National Laboratories sr. manager logistics
Some examples of these technologies helping fleets include the experience of one fleet manager present, who has a records clerk who tracks motor vehicle records. With the Samba record keeping, the fleet records are maintained literally with a click of the mouse. The same principle applies with one state fleet manager present, who runs an auction of vehicles with state employees and has to let equipment sit around for a year waiting for people to bid on them. Now auctions are done daily, online, and worldwide, with people from as many as 50 countries bidding on equipment-no employees, no overhead.
It was generally concluded the pieces are in place for fleets to continue to prosper and move forward in 2012-the watch word is to continue to be proactive.
By Tom Johnson