The City of Troy, Mich., earned the No. 1 spot on the 100 Best Fleets listing for 2010. Dramatic initiatives in the City's fleet over the past year allowed for significant costs savings, improved customer satisfaction, and enhanced productivity. Changes in the fleet included vehicle right-sizing, use of hybrid vehicles, implementation of a utilization policy, enforcement of the City's anti-idle policy, and GPS installation in selected vehicles, among others. Communication, teamwork, and quality of work helped take the City of Troy to the next level.
The results of the competition were announced at the 2010 Government Fleet Expo & Conference (GFX), held June 21 in Austin, Texas. Rounding out the top five spots in the contest were the City of Portland, Ore.; Polk County, Fla. Fleet Management; City of Oxnard, Calif.; and Denver Fleet Management Division. Previously, Hillsborough County in Tampa, Fla., took the top spot for two years running.
During an acceptance speech at a special 100 Best Fleets ceremony held at the 2010 GFX, Sam Lamerato, CPFP, superintendent of fleet maintenance for the City of Troy, encouraged other fleets to strive for the award and participate in the 100 Best Fleets program. He also noted the importance of events, such as GFX, that target government fleets.
"Pay attention to all the sessions and explore the expo floor, and make sure to take back one or two ideas to make your fleet operation more efficient," Lamerato said. "And thank the management who sends us here and lets us participate in this conference. Let them know how much we appreciate all the opportunities to network and learn from our peers."
The No. 1 fleets from the past five years are not eligible to compete, however, each past winner won a 100 Best Fleets Elite Fleet award for continued efforts to lead and innovate.
Fleet Prospers Despite Challenging Times
The City of Troy's fleet department, which includes 15 fleet employees and two maintenance facilities, operates more than 500 fleet vehicles used for public services, including fire, police, department of public works, engineering, assessing, building, and parks and recreation personnel.
Despite facing constant economic pressures during the past year, the fleet team continued to keep the City's vehicles and equipment on the road and ready for service. Thanks to the department's foresight several years ago to develop service-level agreements, a business plan, and a leasing program, the fleet department escaped being the focal point of cutbacks occurring within the City.
City management, the mayor, and City Council continue to recognize the fleet department as a model division. The team continues to expand its in-sourcing services and vehicle lease program to surrounding communities. Currently, they are also an in-house warranty shop for GM, Chrysler, and Ford Motor Co.
"Through team effort, we maintain the quality of work we have always strived for in the past," Lamerato said. "We are still 98- to 100-percent compliant on monthly PMs." Repairs to all City-owned equipment, as well as in-sourced equipment, are completed in most instances within a 24-hour turn-around time. And 91 percent of City technicians are ASE certified with a total of 129 certifications. Several technicians hold double certifications in auto and medium/heavy trucks. Employees receive $100 per month in additional pay for Master ASE certifications and are reimbursed for their State of Michigan mechanic's certification.
The City is one of only two municipal repair facilities in the State to receive the ASE Blue Seal of Excellence.
Due to proactive fleet management and vehicle seasonal preparation, plus aggressive training and use of diagnostic software, each employee averaged less than six hours of overtime last year. The creativity of Troy's fleet team directly impacts the success of its drivers and customers. Out-of-the-box initiatives over the past year helped improve driver and customer knowledge, input, and satisfaction, including:
- A twice yearly Citizen's Academy: two nights informing citizens of the importance of fleet and the varied job responsibilities.
- A "Keep Your Car on the Road (and out of the Repair Shop)" presentation by the fleet maintenance division, attended by many employees who learned safety and repair tips for their personal vehicles.
- Customer satisfaction mirror hangers after vehicles servicing (allowing input from fleet's customers on the service provided).
- Plastic trash bags with "Who Do I Call If" and "Where Do I Go" information placed in each vehicle after service completed.
Employees are always encouraged to participate in training seminars. Each employee receives approximately 40 hours of training per year and encompasses not only fleet issues, but also personal issues such as stress management, drug awareness, financial planning, proper lifting techniques, hearing protection, and lock-out/tag-out. Training in management efficiencies, succession planning, budget management, communications, emergency management, purchasing, and specification writing are also available.
Fleet employees receive passwords to Web training sites to help further develop their repair skills and knowledge. They also have access to training videos and materials to assist them in achieving their ASE Master Certification.
Fleet Initiatives Lead to New Business, Savings & Upgrades
Over the past year, the City implemented several successful fleet initiatives, leading to new customers, increased revenue, fuel savings, and facility upgrades. And, as was the case with many municipalities, the City faced financial challenges necessitating change.
"We were successful in the managed competition for police and fire department emergency equipment installation," Lamerato stated.
To ensure end users' needs are met, prior to building new vehicles fleet holds meetings with customers to create the right specifications for the job at hand.
Another area experiencing change over the past year included a drastic decrease in fuel and oil consumption. The decline resulted from a myriad of factors, including a milder winter, right-sizing of the City's fleet, use of hybrid vehicles, implementation of a utilization policy, rolling out motorcycles for police patrol, enforcing an anti-idle policy, GPS installation in selected vehicles, and use of synthetic oils.
The City also received an energy grant through the Department of Energy's American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA) of just under $1 million for energy-efficient vehicles, lighting, heating, etc. This offsets the cost of hybrid vehicles and lighting upgrades for maintenance facilities.
"We were awarded a grant from DTE Energy for the purchase of energy efficient lighting upgrades to our facility," Lamerato said. "We will be experimenting with solar and wind turbines to supplement our energy needs." Other fleet initiatives include "Troy Goes Green" decals placed on the City's new hybrid vehicles to help inform the public and promote awareness that fleet is doing its part to conserve resources by using alternate fuels for transportation needs; recycling of metal, aluminum, and used oil as budget revenue; and the fleet division becoming a warehouse distributor for repair parts, which greatly reduces parts expenses.
Collaboration Key to Fleet Success
Collaboration remains an important part of the City's ongoing success. Troy's fleet department works with all 15 City departments, as well as its in-sourcing customers, toward a common goal of providing the best, most efficient service for the tax dollars spent. The superintendent has an open door policy, which includes technicians and any City employee.
Fleet staff review bid specifications and make recommendations on future purchases and equipment replacement. Prior to new equipment purchases, on- and off-site demonstrations are conducted with operators. This ensures fleet purchases the right piece of equipment for the job.
Additional collaborative efforts include monthly supervisors meeting in each division to manage any concerns with solutions; periodic meetings held with technicians to discuss upcoming events and changes in procedures; monthly meetings with neighboring municipalities to review common problems and solutions; and local communities joining in purchasing agreements to obtain the best pricing for parts, fuel, and other items.
Accountability also remains critical to the fleet department's success. The team uses FASTER software to measure productivity and PM compliance. Management regularly runs reports for scheduled repairs versus non-scheduled repairs, downtime detail, comebacks, and technician efficiency. Also, the FASTER system software runs a physical inventory of both storerooms yearly. City auditors receive a printed copy of the inventory for their review.
Reports reviewed monthly include fuel usage, inventory issued, vehicle usage, and rental and in-sourcing income. Individual technician performance evaluations are performed annually.
Beyond these accountability measures, new employees receive monthly performance evaluations during their first six months on the job, and results are communicated to the fleet division supervisory staff. The supervisors address the technicians on an individual basis to make recommendations, if needed, and to recognize a job well done.
"Our city customers, as well as our in-sourced customers, place a high trust in our commitment to doing the job correctly the first time and returning a well-maintained, safe, and efficient vehicle back to them with minimal downtime," Lamerato said. "When the fleet division budget is submitted each year, city management, the mayor, and City Council make very few, if any, changes due to their trust in our judgment and ethical practices."
According to Lamerato, these practices remain in effect at all times, resulting in a team that works together for the common goal of providing the City of Troy with safe, efficient, equipment/vehicle maintenance repair and replacement services through a workforce that places high value on communication, teamwork, and quality of work.
Technology Allows for Competitive Facilities
State-of-the-art technology makes it possible for the City of Troy to be competitive with surrounding dealerships and repair facilities. Technician input and manufacturer's requirements are always considered prior to purchasing new technology.
FASTER software is located at eight work stations/laptops throughout the main shop. Other technological aids include Caterpillar Diagnostic software CatET wireless communication adapter to remotely monitor machines or engine operation; E.J. Ward Fueling Systems; Allison transmission/Detroit Diesel diagnostic software; bar-coding of all stocked parts; Veeder-Root automated fuel tank monitoring; Internet auctioning of out-of-service vehicles; and GPS installed units in patrol vehicles and fire trucks, among others.
In addition, the shop floor includes three work stations and the parts room includes two work stations for technician use. They also use laptops at the job site for diagnostics. "We will continue to budget for technology upgrades," Lamerato said.
As surrounding cities, school districts, and counties continue to approach the City about taking over vehicle repairs, Lamerato stated their customer base looks to expand at even a greater rate. "As part of our in-sourcing program, surrounding communities recognize our ASE Blue Seal of Excellence and are impressed by this," he said.
To date, the City holds seven service agreements from surrounding communities (City of Clawson, City of Royal Oak, South Oakland County Resource Recovery Association, Troy Medigo, South Oakland County Water Authority, Troy Schools, and City of Birmingham) and performs in-sourcing work for each of these entities, bringing in approximately $500,000 per year.
"We also have a renewed vehicle lease agreement with the City of Clawson, which states they are very pleased with the lease agreement and hope to expand the lease program in the near future."
100 Best Fleets Recognizes Public Sector Success
In its ninth year, the 100 Best Fleets Program recognizes and rewards peak-performing fleet operations in North America. The 100 Best Fleets plays a leading role in promoting, encouraging, and enhancing the public sector's work performance. It also identifies and encourages ever-increasing levels of performance improvement within the fleet industry. 100 Best Fleets is sponsored by Invers Mobility Solutions, National Joint Powers Alliance (NJPA), Government Fleet Magazine, and the 100 Best Fleets in North America program.[PAGEBREAK]100 Best Fleet Criteria
The 100 Best Fleets were selected using a comprehensive criterion, including implementing best business practices. The following 12 criteria help to make a great place to work.
- Use of technology & information.
- Evidence of a high-trust culture.
- Performance recognition.
- "Doing it right the first time."
- Quick/efficient turnaround.
- Competitive pricing.
- Staff development.
- Resources stewardship.
100 Best Top 20 List
- City of Troy, Mich.
- City of Portland, Ore.
- Polk County, Fla. Fleet Management
- City of Oxnard, Calif.
- Denver Fleet Management Division.
- City of Fayetteville, Ark. Fleet Operations.
- City of Culver City, Calif.
- City of Fort Lauderdale, Fla. Fleet Services.
- Manatee County, Fla.
- City of Moline, Ill.
- City of San Diego Fleet Services Division.
- San Bernardino County, Calif. Fleet Management Department.
- Sarasota County, Fla., Fleet Services.
- Las Vegas Valley Water District.
- City of Fort Worth, Texas, Equipment Services Department.
- City of Columbus, Ohio, Fleet Management Division.
- Virginia Department of Transportation.
- City of Concord, N.C.
- City of Fresno, Calif.
- Palm Beach County, Fla.
2010 100 Best Fleet Honorable Mentions
- Austin, Texas Independent School District
- Baldwin County, Ga.
- Boston Publican School
- Canyon County, Idaho
- Charlotte County, Fla., Fleet Management
- City of Atlantic Beach, Fla.
- City of Bakersfield, Calif.
- City of Bristol, Conn., School Bus facility
- City of Coconut Creek, Fla.
- City of Edmonton, Alberta, Fleet Services
- City of Houston, Texas
- City of Irving, Texas, Police and Fire Light-Duty Fleet
- City of Jacksonville Beach, Fla.
- City of Kamloops, British Columbia
- City of Lewisville, Texas
- City of Longmont, Colo.
- City of McKinney, Texas
- City of Miami Gardens, Fla.
- City of Moultrie, Ga.
- City of Newport, R.I.
- City of Oneonta, N.Y.
- City of Pflugerville, Texas
- City of Port St Lucie, Fla.
- City of Roanoke, Va.
- City of Santa Monica, Calif.
- City of Suffolk, Va.
- City of Sumter, S.C.
- City of Syracuse, N.Y.
- City of Winter Garden, Fla.
- County of Peoria, Ill.
- Dallas County Schools, Texas
- Dallas Police Department, Texas
- Darlington County, S.C.
- District of Columbia Metropolitan Police Department
- District of Columbia Water and Sewer Authority
- Emergency Health Services, Dartmouth, Nova Scotia
- Florence County, S.C.
- Georgetown County, S.C.
- Knox County, Tenn.
- Knoxville, Tenn., Utilities Board
- La Plata County, Colo.
- Liberty County, Ga.
- Maricopa County, Ariz.
- Minnesota Dept. of Natural Resources
- Monterey County, Calif.
- Montgomery Township, N.J.
- NASA Glenn Research Center, Ohio
- Neptune Township, N.J.
- Nevada Department of Transportation, Equipment Division
- Oklahoma Department of Central Services
- Pasco County, Fla., Board of County Commissioners
- Public Works Fleet Management, Norman, Okla.
- Riverside County, Calif., Purchasing & Fleet Services
- Space Coast Area Transit, Brevard County, Fla.
- State of Utah - Division of Fleet Operations
- The City of Alcoa, Tenn.
- The City of Claremore, Okla.
- Town of Davie, Fla.
- Town of Mount Pleasant, S.C.