Any fleet manager knows that being resourceful is a vital part of the job. Check out these amazing time and money-saving ideas that would benefit any operation looking to improve.
Agency Name: County of Sacramento, California
Led By: Keith Leech
The County of Sacramento has sustained major financial losses due to catalytic converter thefts. Due to the diverse size and location of county facilities, vehicle security has been a challenge. Many of the county’s facilities are gated, but thieves have cut through fencing to steal the valuable car parts.
Since 2019, county losses due to theft of converters have exceeded $100,000. Initially, the primary target was the Toyota Prius, but in the last year, thefts of catalytic converters have impacted all the fleet’s makes and models. When the thefts were limited to the Prius, fleet management tried protection plates to safeguard the converter; however, the plates are model-specific, labor-intensive to install, and experienced some rattles after installation. Fleet management also attempted some in-house modifications to protect the exhaust, but those, too, were labor-intensive.
Since all makes and models were being targeted, the fleet department decided to install the CatStrap. This device is universal and can be installed on any vehicle that needs protection. The installation requires less labor to install versus the protection plates, and the rattle problem was also eliminated.
The strap has a high-temperature casing that contains hidden aircraft-grade steel cables that are difficult to cut. For added measure, technicians install two exhaust clamps to secure the straps to the exhaust and then tack weld the clamp nuts. Management prioritized installations on its Toyota Prius models and any vehicle parked at a vulnerable parking location. The county has not experienced an attempted theft on a CatStrap-equipped vehicle so far.
Agency Name: City of Buckeye, Arizona
Led By: Beth Casillas
The City of Buckeye is testing light bars that have quad lighting capabilities, so once they are removed from police vehicles, they can be reinstalled on non-emergency vehicles to minimize waste, ensure safety, and save capital dollars.
With technology advancements, lightbars are now programmable with multiple color options, and this technology has also become more economical. Newer-model lightbars will permit those used on patrol vehicles to be used on non-emergency Public Works vehicles with a new mounting kit and a few steps to re-program them from red/blue to white/amber/red without having to change out any expensive modules. This program will increase the lighting capabilities of the city’s non-emergency vehicles at minimal cost to the general fund, which helps to improve operations and safety while saving money on the initial lightbar purchase.
The project has just begun, but the city is already achieving immediate savings on lightbars, which cost about half of the older -style bar that had been traditionally used.
Agency Name: City of Coppell, Texas
Led By: Mark Brochtrup, CAFM
The City of Coppell had never experienced the difficulties of hiring technicians in the past, but 2020 was different and difficult. Old school, corporate-style advertisements were going unnoticed. Simply stating basic functions, essential job duties, competencies, knowledge, skills/abilities, and the like were boring. The Fleet Department received approval to break the mold and create a more exciting advertisement that still spelled out requirements and competencies, but also grabbed people’s attention. Once Mark Brochtrup put together his initial thoughts, he turned the project over to the communications officer for review and further editing.
The advertisement inquires, “Have you ever wondered who helps heroes in times of need? Who responds to first responders? Who steps in to assist emergency personnel in crisis? We do! If you’re a hero to heroes, we need your help.”
This leads to more thought-provoking questions and touches on the department’s organizational culture of service to others.
“The City of Coppell invites you to be a part of this movement in redefining the face of local government and what it means to serve the people in the house. Join a team where innovation and creativity are not only encouraged but ideal. Customer service and dedication to making things better are core to our beliefs. We are here to do the best we can at what we do,” the ad reads.
The announcement brought in two talented individuals who each are a perfect fit for the team and organization.
“We wanted to communicate who we are. As a side note, I used a very similar ad recently for an open position in our parts room and received some 48 applications,” Brochtrup said.
Agency Name: City of Fairfield, California
Led By: David Renschler, CPFP
Fast-approaching transformative proposals for clean air legislation in 2024 from the California Air Resources Board (CARB) are being written now, and the City of Fairfield’s Fleet Department wanted to ensure it had a say in decisions being made.
David Renschler coordinated with other forward-thinking fleet managers in California to meet with executives at CARB on multiple occasions regarding a new regulation it proposed that will affect all fleets in the nation, as well as a second regulation that will affect California fleets. This includes the heavy-duty inspection and maintenance regulation that will affect any fleet that comes into California or that operates in California and the advanced clean fleet regulation, which states every vehicle over 8,500 lbs. GVWR starting in MY24 must be a zero-emissions vehicle if available.
“Infrastructure, EV technology, budgets, real estate, timelines; all were problems needing solutions. Educating our executives, some of them new, had to be done,” Renschler explained. “We’ve been successful in extending regulation deadlines from December 2021 to June 2022 so lawmakers can alter some parts, such as requiring manufacturers to build zero-emission versions of the vehicles we need.”
Fleet Management team members dedicated many hours during the pandemic to attending workshops and meetings and shared the information they collected with city decision-makers. Members of the team networked with industry leaders to add weight to their perspectives to ensure the best outcome for the city and fleet industry.
Agency Name: City of Irving, Texas
Led By: Debbie Jackson/Larry Spain
Last year, the City of Irving’s Fleet Department created a new management training program to secure a line of succession to keep it moving into the future. Debbie Jackson had proposed this about five years ago but kept being told it was not a good time. When she was diagnosed with triple-negative stage three advanced metastatic breast cancer, it woke the department up to the fact it’s always the right time to have a plan in place.
The department has since moved to a two-manager system, including fleet business operations manager (Jackson) and fleet maintenance manager (Larry Spain). It reclassed a service writer and parts senior clerk to two assistant fleet managers to work with Spain and Jackson. Jackson and Spain have been showing them all their job duties, including contracts, fuel, parts, key performance indicator (KPI) data, cross-training technician schedules, etc.
The department also reclassed technicians to two senior section chiefs who report to the assistant fleet managers. Senior section chiefs will be trained to learn some of the assistant fleet managers’ job responsibilities, as well as how to work in every division within the fleet team.
“This has helped immensely. Before, when they were out, we were left without qualified technicians to take their place. The section chiefs are getting six month rotations, and costs have decreased and customer service has increased,” Jackson said.
The department has also reclassed technicians to four senior technician positions who will be trained in section chief duties.
“If something were to happen to me, I felt it important to leave a legacy of cross-training to ensure each division had multiple representation and qualified staff to help with both public safety and general government equipment. It was important to get our next level of succession ready while grooming others to fill their spots. Morale is at an all-time high, as we have happy employees that have been promoted and feel appreciated,” she explained.
Agency Name: Denver International Airport
Led By: Jeff Booton
Denver International Airport operates several snow teams during a snow event to keep its six runways and multiple taxiways clear and safe for air traffic. Each team runs anywhere from five to 20 pieces of equipment depending on the task. On the airfield during an event, visibility is always a concern due to the team having to operate millions of dollars of specialized snow removal equipment in “white‐out” conditions. These teams typically clear a runway in 13 to 15 minutes (with one pass) using several types of multi‐function snow equipment traveling in a single formation.
The snow removal equipment has several lights for safety and large 16-inch reflective decals on each side at the rear for identification. Unfortunately, these decals often cannot be seen in the white‐out conditions, making it extremely difficult for field operation supervisors to call out specific units to perform specific tasks or adjust within the plowing formations.
During a snowstorm last year, one of the airport’s employees noticed some local municipal plow trucks had blue light strips added to increase visibility. When the department researched these lights, it found the company made illuminated numbers that would work well. The department decided to do a test by installing dimmable, 16-inch blue LED illuminated numbers on the rear of four units. The positive feedback from snow teams was overwhelming. These lights allow the operator in a following position to know without a doubt where the rear of the unit ahead of him is, and which specific unit it is. Field operations supervisors can now call out specific units on the radio and give them instructions without identity confusion.
The test was so successful that the airport’s snow teams have requested this technology to be installed on airfield snow units. It now has 16 units installed, and plans to include having OEMs install these lights when the equipment is built.
Agency Name: City of Cedar Rapids, Iowa
Led By: Joy Huber
Joy Huber recognizes those who prioritize their work and projects. One of the city’s fleet technicians showed initiative and desire to make a difference in safety shortly after he was hired. He was invited to serve on the city’s Fleet and Facilities Safety Committee, which meets monthly to discuss safety concerns, standard operating procedures, and review accidents/injuries and lessons learned.
During a meeting, when asked by the Risk and Safety Division for suggestions on how to show employees’ commitment to safety and encourage participation, he suggested creating a large banner for each division to sign as a physical reminder to always operate safely. The idea was approved and the Commitment to Safety banner was presented at a meeting for city employees to sign.
The city has since noticed a heightened awareness in the safety culture in the fleet facilities. Monthly safety committee meetings continue to be productive with members communicating safety concerns and suggestions. The concerns are recorded and acted upon by Fleet Management and Safety. The technicians are also reviewing more vigorous tasks and recommending new shop tools that are safer and reduce stress to the body, thus reducing injuries.
Agency Name: City of Phoenix, Arizona
Led By: Scott Chandler/Keith Carbajal
The City of Phoenix Public Works Department buys and sells renewable identification numbers (RINs) to generate funds to replace fuel tanks that are more than 30 years in age, generating approximately $410,000 annually. A RIN is a credit assigned to a batch of renewable fuel for tracking its production, use, and trading as required by the United States Environmental Protection Agency’s renewable fuel standard (RFS).
More details on buying and selling RINs can be found on World Kinect Energy Services’ website.
Agency Name: Village of Mount Prospect, Illinois
Led By: Kevin DeLuca
In the last 12 months, the Village of Mount Prospect faced a shortage of material because of the COVID-19 pandemic directly affecting the manufacturing industry. To evade issues, it made use of its employees’ skills.
The department encountered a lack of materials for curb shoes. It designed and implemented a fabricated curb shoe in-house. Crews accomplished this by using an ironworker, a fabrication tool that can punch and bend steel. With it, the team created a jig, which is a template fixture to create the necessary pieces. Plow service was not interrupted, and staff members made 21 shoes for a fraction of the price, saving $75 per shoe. In addition, they also made plow blades for 17 trucks.
Agency Name: City of Madison, Wisconsin
Led By: Mahanth Joishy
The city has initiated an awards program, Employee of the Year, to recognize outstanding fleet employees. This person is recognized at a special event after a months-long deliberative process among senior staff. Other stellar employees are publicly profiled on the city’s website, along with internal and external partners.
Separately, it has also initiated a fleet contest that runs year-round and tracks the metrics it cares the most about: daily vehicles out of service, daily overdue preventive maintenance (PM), comebacks, technician direct time, undocumented sick time, workers comp time, and instances of disciplinary action. The entire division participates in the contest as a single team, and everyone hits or misses the targets together. Tracking these metrics closely lets the team know how it’s doing in comparison to past years. Metrics are shared daily with all fleet staff, with encouragement to improve or keep up the good work.
Agency Name: City of Richmond, British Columbia, Canada
Led By: Suzanne Bycraft
The City of Richmond Fleet Department created an electric vehicle tool kit with students from its local school district to increase the adoption of electric vehicles. The program includes a variety of lesson plans, project ideas, activity sheets, slide decks, a short video, mascot, and video challenges. The materials teach about EVs, policies, incentives, environmental issues, and technology advances to inspire youth to be invested in the future of electric vehicles.
The city partnered with Richmond Electric Vehicle Ambassadors (REVAs), Plug-in Richmond, Plug-in BC, and Emotive to make its vision become a reality. Part of the city’s Green Fleet Action Plan includes initiatives to exhibit corporate leadership in the community, including a capital project of $1.7 million to upgrade infrastructure for future EV deployment. A detailed webpage of the content can be found at pluginbc.ca/RELT.
Agency Name: Hillsborough County, Florida
Led By: Robert Stine
Hillsborough County prioritizes leadership and employee input has led to successes including the creation of a technician recognition program and targeted technical training.
The Fiscal Year Employee Awards Program recognizes the hard work and outstanding service of assigned employees to department customers. The program was created in coordination with the Human Resources Department. Fleet staff personnel are invited to nominate candidates for the quarterly award (who are then also eligible to win an annual award), and candidates are appraised based on teamwork, positive attitude, attendance, productivity, number of safety infractions, and customer, supervisor, and peer feedback. Quarterly winners receive a Fleet Management insulated tumbler with a logo, and the annual winner receives a Fleet Management jacket.
Agency Name: Orange County, Florida
Led By: Bryan Lucas
The effects of the COVID-19 pandemic hit Orange County hard. Being in the Orlando area, it’s heavily funded by the travel/tourism industry. Budget cuts and a hiring freeze were implemented county-wide to counter the effects of the slowdown. Due to recruitment challenges and the pandemic, the department spent most of the last 16 months with a 19% technician vacancy rate as it was unable to hire. This forced it to look for any way to increase efficiencies and revenue with extremely limited budgets.
Mobile Technician Connectivity
The county’s current fleet management information system (FMIS) does not have a viable mobile solution, which was especially problematic for the on‐call team that supports the Fire Department’s transport rescues. These technicians are on‐call 24/7 and receive after hours call-outs, usually multiple times every night. Previously, they would document their work on paper, then manually create work orders from these notes once back in the shop days later.
The county had tried using laptops and tablets with previous generation hotspots installed in its trucks. This did not work due to the county’s high VPN security standards, coupled with the FMIS’ lack of mobile capabilities and flexibility. The department revisited this with its IT team and it suggested a newer style hotspot. Techs were able to update their time and notes in real-time and not waste time later updating the required data. The department has since upgraded each technician to new rugged laptops that now have the required hot spots built‐in so they can take it where needed to complete their work.
The county struggled for years to find a viable, automated solution to bill shop supplies for work orders. Its FMIS appeared to have this ability through its current shop supply system, but it would not work as the department required. Due to this, it continued to bill these manually as best it could, billing approximately $4,200 monthly.
As the COVID-19 crisis worsened and the related impacts deepened in the county’s operation, its assistant manager revisited this to find a solution to increase efficiencies while collecting the required charges to cover costs. After many weeks of experimenting, a solution was found in another, seemingly unrelated section of a reporting module. The semantics of this area’s title and descriptions hid what it could do. It took time and effort to dig into these newly found reports and settings, but the payoff has been a huge success.
This process is now completely automated and works flawlessly each month. After implementing this last fiscal year, the county saw over a 600% increase to shop supply revenue. This fiscal year, that has increased to almost 700% increase, with approximately $29,000 billed monthly, which more accurately funds the county’s non‐inventoried consumable products.