SUITLAND, MD - The Smithsonian Institution's Vehicle Repair Shop moved into a brand new 14,000 sq. ft. building in Suitland, Md., just outside Washington D.C., on December 2011. The $4.7 million facility replaces and consolidates the federal agency's previous maintenance facilities. It has nine light-duty bays with above-ground lifts, a heavy-duty bay for trucks and buses with mobile lifts, a small engine section for small engine repairs, and a wash bay according to Bill Griffiths, transportation branch chief for the Smithsonian.
The facility is located about six miles from downtown Washington D.C. "The campus that we're on is one of the Smithsonian's central storage and research facilities, and easily accessible from downtown. A number of vehicles and fleet equipment are garaged or housed here each day," Griffiths said.
In requesting congressional funding for the facility, Griffiths said his team had to demonstrate that his operation was more cost-effective and efficient than contracted services, which he was able to prove through reports and data from their fleet management information system. Griffiths also proposed environmentally friendly initiatives such as alt-fuel fueling stations, aqueous-based parts washers, a nitrogen tire inflation system, and other "green" maintenance processes.
The facility has a fueling island, one of four the Smithsonian manages. Some features of the new facility include; Level 2 electric vehicle charging stations, a compressed natural gas (CNG) fast-fill station, and WiFi internet. Griffiths said having WiFi capability in the facility has completely improved operations by eliminating the paper-based work order processes, and increased technician efficiencies by providing them wireless diagnostic tools and Web-based parts and service manuals.
By Thi Dao