ANKENY, IA – The City of Ankeny significantly improved its fleet maintenance program by implementing a number of changes, which Al Olson, public works administrator for the City’s Public Works Department, Streets Division, explained to Government Fleet.

The City put together a program called Innovision, the goal of which was to engage City employees in the process of finding ways to cut costs. The group of City employees involved in the program is called the “I-Team.” The group focused on fleet maintenance, in addition to others, as an area for improvement. The key programs and policies implemented after the I-Team’s review involve how employees conduct inspections, who conducts them, streamlining maintenance scheduling, and deciding to purchase a fleet management software system.

Changing Inspection Procedures

First, the group decided to have department directors designate employees as fleet management coordinators who would be in charge of vehicle maintenance.
“It was determined out of the I-Team meetings that we needed to increase vehicle inspections from every six months to once per month,” said Al Olson, public works administrator for the City’s Public Works Department, Streets Division. “Instead of our mechanics conducting the inspections, the I-Team determined that fleet maintenance coordinators for each department should be established. Fleet management coordinators were designated by each department director as responsible for ensuring that monthly inspections are conducted and maintenance is performed on their respective department’s vehicles and equipment.”

The new fleet management coordinators have established new vehicle and equipment inspection procedures. Inspections take place on the first Monday of the month, and they each use a vehicle and equipment maintenance checklist to assist them during inspections, Olson said. So far this program has been a success.

“We’re no longer seeing vehicles overdue for service by hundreds if not thousands of miles,” Olson said. “We have created a higher level of accountability and responsibility within each department, with fleet management coordinators taking responsibility for the inspections. Users and operators are more aware of vehicle maintenance due to the frequency of inspections.”

Olson said the fleet management coordinators work with the Central Garage foreman to schedule maintenance or repair work identified on monthly reports.

“All repairs and maintenance from the inspection checklists are compiled on a monthly vehicle maintenance report, which is submitted to the Central Garage foreman no later than noon on Wednesday,” Olson explained. “Monthly vehicle inspections were implemented in April. Users and operators assist the fleet management coordinators in the inspection process, which creates a more positive awareness of maintenance throughout the department.”

Vehicles that end up on the report, scheduled for service, are those within 150 miles or 10 hours from service, according to Olson. The I-Team group positively assessed program performance in a review earlier this year.

“After four months of inspections, we had a meeting in July with all I-Team members and the fleet management coordinators to update each of them on the progress of our actions to date and to receive input from the fleet management coordinators on how the inspections were going.  No changes were made,” Olson said.

Streamlining Operations

Olson said the next issue the I-Team identified was the placement of routine service labels on vehicles and equipment.

“Currently service labels are placed in a plastic holder and adhered to the dashboard where there is space available,” Olson said. “This problem has now been resolved with the purchase of a new service labeling machine. Labels are now displayed in the upper left hand corner of all vehicles and equipment to make users/operators aware of when service is due.”

Beyond labeling, maintenance scheduling and tracking needed streamlining. To accomplish this, the City decided to purchase a new fleet management system to handle tracking all aspects of operations.

“Along with scheduling and tracking, we need to have a software system for asset and inventory management, insurance, fleet history, warranty work, fuel monitoring, and the overall cost of ownership,” Olson said. “Currently, many lists exist documenting assets within the City, and not all of them are complete and up to date. Departments have a need to access this type of information quickly and accurately. Other information regarding department vehicles and equipment profiles are not easily assessable unless the department keeps an inventory of its own, and each inventory is sometimes different from department to department. I-Team recommended installing a new CFA fleet management software system that will provide a one-stop shop for compiling all of this important information to be accessible electronically throughout the City network.”

Although the City has only decided to purchase this new system, Olson and others in the City expect to see significant benefits.

“CFA will allow us to electronically document our entire fleet inventory, improve warranty recaptures, identify and manage our over- and underutilized vehicles, reduce unnecessary inventory, improve work flow, and report on virtually any aspect of the fleet operation,” he said. “The software will reduce employee time and paper usage associated with preparing, updating, and retrieving physical documents through the use of the flexible, integrated scheduling of service and repair work orders.”

Other benefits include preventing loss of important data; better access to information, which will lead to wiser budget decisions; proper analysis and incorporation of a vehicle depreciation schedule, which will enhance the vehicle/equipment replacement process; and with all of this, extending the useful life of fleet vehicles and equipment.

By Greg Basich