At GFX 2019 in New Orleans, I was joined by my two deputies Randy Koch and Tyson Roessler. Although I was at the event as a speaker, I told them both that there are a lot of ideas from across the fleet industry that we don’t know about, and that we should note those down whether from GFX presentations, test drives, or displays that could help us in the City of Madison and bring those ideas home with us. We came not only to share best practices but also absorb them.
We brought back a list of 25 different ideas to explore. I assigned a staff member to each one, and so far we have implemented four of them: (1) Buying tablets for all fleet technicians to keep them working in their bays; (2) Using a project management software for the senior staff; (3) Integration of data from separate fleet management software, GPS/AVL software, and fuel management software into one database; and (4) Running a contest for all fleet technicians.
- Tablets. We saw a presentation where “keeping techs in their bays” was discussed by a leading fleet. By issuing tablets to all fleet techs, they can now stay in their bays while punching in detailed work order data; receiving and sending e-mails; and for diagnostics, parts ordering, and Internet research. All of these tasks used to require logging into and out of software at some distance from their auto repair bays. We now have individual tablets that have internet, e-mail, access to our fleet management system, and parts ordering live at all times so technicians don’t have to log in and out of shared work stations. The project is underway and will be completed in 2020.
- Project Management Software. A number of programs exist to automate office functions and manage complex projects involving multiple people. We settled on Asana, which our senior staff is using daily. This was based on a presentation about project management software at GFX. Other options include Trello, Slack, and Monday.
- Data Integration. During the open roundtable forum of fleet managers, the issue of data integration was thrown around, along with the microphone ball. It is a challenge we had been thinking about, and it was helpful to hear that it was a challenge nationwide. Particularly, integrating millions of lines of data between fleet management, fuel management, and GPS/AVL was discussed. Since GFX, we hired David Coy, a data analyst, specifically to deal with this, and we now have a top-shelf integrated database that is a model not only for fleets, but all government agencies and organizations.
- Contest. In 2019, with input from every single fleet technician in the division, we implemented a contest based on a presentation by Baltimore’s Department of General Services fleet about having technicians compete on established metrics. In Madison, we ran the first iteration from September to December 2019, with a twist: all technicians were on one team. You can read about the program, which we are continuing and expanding in 2020, here.
Other ideas either didn’t work for us or we aren’t yet ready to implement yet, but more will definitely be implemented this year.
About the Author: Mahanth Joishy is the fleet service superintendent at the City of Madison, Wis. He was the keynote speaker at GFX 2019.