(L to R) Rick Brown and John Holland, fleet parts specialists for the County of San Joaquin, Calif.
 - Photo: County of San Joaquin, Calif.

(L to R) Rick Brown and John Holland, fleet parts specialists for the County of San Joaquin, Calif.

Photo: County of San Joaquin, Calif.

The way fleets manage parts can impact vehicle downtime, productivity, costs, customer service, and more. Here, four fleets share the improvements they made to their own programs — and how those improvements paid off.

County of San Joaquin, Calif.

The County of San Joaquin, Calif., operates an in-house parts room that supplies all of the county’s locations and uses a Fleet Management Information System (FMIS) to track purchases and charge parts and supplies to work orders. Fleet Manager Kevin Myose has improved his fleet’s parts program by building a strong in-house team.

“We needed to hire people with parts sales background experience, since specialized knowledge is required to serve techs successfully,” Myose said. Recognizing parts room staff are critical to serving the needs of the fleet, Myose reached out to the county’s Human Resources department to staff the parts room with people with the right skills. “It was difficult to get HR to recognize automotive/equipment parts specialists have a different skill set than a storekeeper or stock clerk, so we requested they perform a job study.”

The study revealed what Myose already knew: the duties of parts personnel require significant specialized skills to provide adequate service levels. As a result, HR created a “Fleet Parts Specialist” class to address the fleet’s recruitment needs. The county’s parts room is now staffed by one supervisor and three parts specialists who are responsible for taking orders from technicians and placing orders with vendors.

“Parts people are a definite overhead cost, but can add value through discovering the best prices and service,” Myose said. “Techs must have adequate parts flow to keep working and serve customers. Finding the right people and having a fleet management system is critical to in-house part success.”

The County of San Joaquin has seen a number of benefits as a result of proper staffing, including increased equipment uptime, lower stock on-hand, increased order accuracy, and improved customer and technician satisfaction.

The City of Greenville, S.C., contracts with NAPA IBS for parts management. - Photo: City of Greenville, S.C.

The City of Greenville, S.C., contracts with NAPA IBS for parts management.

Photo: City of Greenville, S.C.

City of Greenville, S.C.

The City of Greenville, S.C., contracts with NAPA IBS for parts management. Doing so has resulted in significant savings, improved parts availability, and increased uptime.

Prior to contracting with NAPA IBS, the city had a large amount of money tied up in parts. With those funds now freed up, the fleet can instead use them to improve shop tools and supplies and purchase newer vehicles.

“Having another entity responsible for parts procurement, we no longer have to worry about shrinkage or obsolescence, so we save a considerable amount of money,” said City of Greenville Fleet Manager Scott McIver. “Working with our vendor, we have been able to take advantage of their large buying ability to not only gain better pricing, but receive those parts in a much shorter time frame.”

NAPA IBS guarantees the fleet gets parts in a timely manner, with 85% of parts available onsite, 10% guaranteed within four hours of order, and the final 5% within 72 hours. Improved parts availability has helped reduce wait time for parts and reduced unit downtime by 12%.

“In the past, we were at the mercy of the availability and shipping options of the OEM; now we can leverage the buying power and warehousing capability of all of NAPA IBS,” McIver said. “I truly enjoy not having to worry about having to do inventories or what to do about parts I no longer need. I write one PO at the end of each month, do periodic spot checks on pricing to keep everyone honest, and I don’t worry about parts anymore. This may not be the best fit for all fleets, but for a smaller fleet like us, it was the best move.”

Gary Stewart (in the black City of Tampa polo), fleet analyst and contract manager for Contractor Operated Parts Store (COPS), stands with team members from MANCON, the City of Tampa, Fla., fleet department’s parts provider. - Photo: City of Tampa, Fla.

Gary Stewart (in the black City of Tampa polo), fleet analyst and contract manager for Contractor Operated Parts Store (COPS), stands with team members from MANCON, the City of Tampa, Fla., fleet department’s parts provider.

Photo: City of Tampa, Fla.

City of Tampa, Fla.

The City of Tampa, Fla., has run a contractor operated parts store (COPS) since 2015. The city’s contractor is responsible for owning and procuring all parts, and parts are billed to the fleet at cost. Instead of marking up parts, the contractor is paid a set monthly management fee that covers its services. 

When manpower challenges arose due to the city’s need for a large volume of available parts for its aging fleet, Connie White-Arnold, fleet manager, knew she needed to make improvements.

“There was a lack of efficiency in stockroom parts issuing, highlighted by part delays and/or lack of stock on hand,” she said.

To mitigate the issue, the city amended its COPS contract to include the permanent addition of a customer service representative (CSR) and a receiver/storeroom clerk to better manage the projected growth of parts requirements.

The city also began forecasting preventive maintenance services to stay ahead of its parts needs by creating the Preventive Maintenance Appointment System (PMAS), an online portal that allows vehicle departments and operators to self-schedule their next upcoming preventive maintenance appointment.

“This offered the line supervisors and parts room personnel the time and information needed to ensure all the required parts are on-hand for the scheduled PM prior to the vehicle’s arrival,” White-Arnold said.

The PMAS advanced scheduling system is working. It has decreased vehicle downtime and increased customer satisfaction throughout the city.

To improve transparency, the status of parts is now displayed by technician name on television screens in the facilities so technicians are kept up-to-date. - Photo: City of Fort Worth, Texas

To improve transparency, the status of parts is now displayed by technician name on television screens in the facilities so technicians are kept up-to-date.

Photo: City of Fort Worth, Texas

City of Fort Worth, Texas

The City of Fort Worth, Texas, outsources its parts program to NAPA IBS as well. Even though parts are managed by a third party, the fleet was struggling with poor demand/fill rates, parts arriving late, or the wrong parts arriving altogether. Part of the problem was a lack of cohesion between the parts and service teams and a communication gap with supervisors and crew leaders on the status of parts. There was also a lack of reporting, which caused misinformation and prevented the fleet from taking corrective measures when problems arose.

Fleet Manager Chris Means knew it was time for a change, so the fleet instituted a number of measures to improve distribution and communication and create a better sense of teamwork.

To improve transparency, the status of parts is now displayed by technician name on television screens in the facilities so technicians are kept up-to-date. The fleet relocated parts counters closer to technicians and removed stools around the counters, which eliminated non-work-related discussion and increased productivity. Now, parts are delivered to technicians on the floor.

Daily parts status reports and meetings with supervisors and crew leaders are also improving communication between the parts and service teams. Parts managers now attend all service meetings and are asked to present and participate in discussions, just like city employees. Parts managers participate in the fun, too, like quarterly employee contests and other celebrations.

As a result of the changes, the fleet has seen improved demand/fill rates across all service centers. They have also united the third-party parts and city service teams into one cohesive team.

“Our contracted vendor feels like a part of the overall picture now and has a sense of belonging and being part of the team. This has brought forth a true sense of success,” Means said.

Other Ideas for Improving Your Parts Management Program

● Establish purchasing contracts with multiple suppliers to find difficult-to-locate parts and lower fulfillment times.

● Shop for the best parts price online.

● Reorganize your parts storeroom for more efficient parts pulling.

● Measure fill rates to ensure the parts team is meeting its goals.

● Review part issue levels on a consistent basis to establish minimums, maximums, and reorder points.

● Perform weekly cycle counts of high-usage, fast-moving items, like batteries, fluids, filters, etc.

● Monitor high value parts costs.

● Proactively review inventory and remove aged parts.

● Create a Top 100 parts pricing list, then review monthly to learn whether prices are rising – and if so, why.

● Don’t allow anyone but essential personnel into the parts storeroom.

● Don’t receive any part without counting and inspecting it.

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