A few years ago, the Ft.Wayne, Ind., fleet operations team set an ambitious goal — to become one of the best-run fleets not only in the state, but also in the entire nation.

With Director of Fleet Management Larry Campbell spearheading the effort, and with the support of the city’s mayor, the team achieved that goal, earning accolades as the most efficient fleet operation and one of the 100 Best Fleets in North America.

Campbell works closely with Kelly Reagan, general manager of First Vehicle Services (FVS), the city’s contracted vehicle maintenance provider. “It’s important that Kelly and I work as a team, communicating daily, to discuss planning and problem-solve,” said Campbell.

“FVS bridges the gap between fleet operations and vendor,” added Reagan.

The Ft.Wayne fleet was judged according to 12 criteria determined by a panel of industry experts, site visits, peer reviews, and recommendations. According to program organizers, Ft.Wayne was noted for its leadership and success in educating top city management about the critical importance of fleet operations.

Fleet and FVS Partner to Excel
FVS and Campbell’s team partnered to improve Ft.Wayne fleet operation standards and processes. The northern Indiana city, population 250,000, operates a 1,400-vehicle fleet, encompassing police cars, city passenger vehicles, dump tractors, payloaders, construction equipment, and other city equipment.

Campbell handles city vendor contracts and all vehicle and equipment specifications and purchasing.He also serves as the mayor’s “fleet resource,” sharing knowledge and expertise on how fleet can help serve the city’s mission.His goals include:

  1. Fostering a cohesive, coordinated “one-team” effort.
  2. Reducing equipment purchasing.
  3. Evolving as a “green fleet.”

Now in its sixth contract year with Ft. Wayne, FVS brought to the city industry-standard certifications, including:

  1. ASE Blue Seal Shop designation.
  2. ISO9001:2000 certification.
  3. Voluntary Protection Program (VPP) IOSHA recognition.

Together, Reagan and Campbell continue to drive the staff and technician education process. {+PAGEBREAK+}

Mayor Helps Lead the Way
An important element in the process to improve fleet operations was city Mayor Graham Richard’s “High Performance Government” initiative to foster staff leadership,which incorporated such private-sector programs as Six Sigma.

One of the first U.S. government entities to offer employees Six Sigma green belt and black belt training, Ft.Wayne implemented the team-structured, databased problem solving process to improve customer service and increase city government effectiveness. According to Reagan, himself a Lean Six Sigma Master Green Belt, other U.S. cities traveled to Ft.Wayne to study how the city has used the program in its operations.

Team Guided by Vision Statement
Ft.Wayne’s fleet management team and its FVS partner both are guided by a vision statement that encourages an organizational culture in which:

  1. Continuous improvement is a fundamental expectation.
  2. An open atmosphere of communication encourages an interdependence of team members’ skills, abilities, talents, experiences, abilities, and perspectives.
  3. Employees are part of the solution to challenges.
  4. An ability to adapt to changes is a critical value.
  5. Change is embraced and failure is seen as learning opportunity.

Employees are empowered to change policies, correct safety violations, and raise any concern relative to the well being of all shop employees. Feedback from this open-door policy prevented misunderstandings and increased employee morale, according to Campbell.

A purchasing policy change Campbell instituted saved Ft.Wayne just under $950,000 in three years. The city fleet now uses the federal government’s GSA specification process. “By using this process, rather than the state bid program, the city can tap into better volume purchasing,” said Campbell.

A member of the mayor’s “Green Initiative” team, Campbell also helps guide local public agency and commercial entities in the use of B-20 biodiesel.Working with the Clean Cities organization, Campbell recently secured a $40,000 grant to add a hybrid dump truck to Ft.Wayne’s fleet.

Efforts Achieve Results
Ft.Wayne’s fleet improvement effort to date has achieved the following results.

  1. The only FVS Blue Seal municipal shop in the state of Indiana, the entire maintenance operation is yellow-belt certified. Staff levels include 17 master certifications on the floor and 159 ASE certifications among 15 technicians. Twenty-five employees hold both CPR and First Aid certifications. Employees are paid for reaching educational goals and advanced certifications.
  2. The FVS-operated shop is ISO9001:2000-certified in comprehensive fleet maintenance services. Each month, 800 work orders are processed with less than 0.02-percent come-backs over a five-year period.
  3. The FVS maintenance shop is one of only two in the country to receive OSHA-VPP recognition. The shop boasts of a six-year record of no lost time due to injury.
  4. Ft Wayne is one of just two fleets ever nominated for the John F. Kennedy School of Government Innovation Award, recognizing and promoting excellence and creativity in the public sector.
  5. Overall vehicle availability has averaged 99 percent over the past four years.
  6. While Ft.Wayne’s fleet has grown 17 percent over the past seven years, overall maintenance costs are 15-percent less (in today’s dollars) than in 1996.
  7. Organizational efficiencies have resulted in $730,000 net savings to the city over the past five years.
  8. For its “green” efforts, Ft.Wayne received the “Green Fleet” award. Emissions have been reduced by 50 percent, through switching to hybrid, biodiesel, and E-85-powered vehicles. Recipient SUVs were eliminated saving an estimated $256,594 over a seven-year lifecycle. In addition, the FVS recycling policy exceeds in-state standards, recycles oil filters, absorbents, steel, used oil, aluminum, cardboard, parts washers, fluorescent light bulbs, oil separators, and antifreeze.