By ED SMITH | Agile Fleet
The city of Stamford is like many public organizations that rely on vehicles to achieve their mission. With a fleet of 1,100 vehicles, the city must maintain and manage passenger vehicles, heavy-duty highway trucks, and sanitation and park equipment year-round on a limited budget.
Two years ago, Stamford’s fleet maintenance manager Mike Scacco, a 13-year veteran in fleet management, took a hard look at the 80 passenger vehicles parked at the city’s Government Center building that were being used by nearly 50 different departments housed there. Scacco was concerned about high fleet costs and lack of metrics to understand vehicle usage or needs.
“Every time I went to the Government Center, there were always 30-40 cars sitting idle, some with dust on the windshields. That told me they weren’t being used, but we had no way to know for sure because we didn’t collect utilization data or trip information. We needed a way to do that and I was determined to find one,” said Scacco. “We had no accountability or hard data to understand which of the 80 vehicles that the departments used were needed and which ones weren’t. And, no one wanted to share vehicles. The general consensus was that we actually needed more cars to meet the needs of the departments, but with dust on the windshields, I didn’t think that was right.”
City of Stamford Savings Summary*
Maintenance cost savings ($3,500-$6,000/year/vehicle) = $178,000 – $357,000
One-time Disposal income @ $4,000/vehicle = $204,000
*Based on eliminating 51 vehicles
Results: Technology-driven savings
What did Scacco do? He first created policy requiring employees to share vehicles. He then took the best 49 vehicles out of the 80 vehicles sitting idle at the Government Center and created an easy-to-use-motor pool. The remaining 31 vehicles were moved out of service until they could assess if 49 was the right number of vehicles to meet the needs of employees. Using the automated Agile Fleet FleetCommander system, Scacco was able to streamline the vehicle-sharing process by offering online vehicle reservations, and automated dispatching and key management, as well as billing and reporting. The system enabled him to collect usage data, and he determined that not only did they not need more vehicles, but that they could further reduce the 49-vehicle shared fleet down to 29. He was then able to sell the unneeded 51 vehicles.
Chantilly, Va.-based fleet management solutions provider Agile Fleet estimates that the cost to keep a vehicle in a fleet is about $3,500-$6,000 per year in maintenance, depreciation, insurance, parking and other costs. By eliminating 51 vehicles, the city saved $357,000 in ongoing costs over the first two years. Agile Fleet estimates a five-year cost savings of more than $1 million, including the disposal income generated by the city’s sale of the 51 extra vehicles.
“Our savings are tremendous, and replacement cost avoidance is also substantial. If you are paying $18,000-$25,000 per vehicle and you reduce 51 cars, you are avoiding upwards of $918,000-plus in replacement costs alone,” Scacco said. “We have saved the city a tremendous amount of money and now vehicle utilization is where it should be.”
Scacco emphasized the ease in which the system was put in place. “It was so easy to set up and launch our motor pool. Nowadays people are familiar with logging in online. Reserving vehicles in the system is so easy. For municipalities, it’s a match made in heaven because there are so many cities that don’t necessarily have the data they need to know what’s going on with these expensive assets. With the system in place, we easily right-sized and eliminated vehicles that no one needed.”
Success: Data-driven decision-making
“We believe the Agile Fleet data is the key to our success. We have both the FleetCommander FMIS and GPS tracking solutions here. FleetCommander automates the management of our motor pool, helps us manage keys, run reports and keep up with preventive maintenance. We use GPS to gather data about our vehicle usage and driver behavior. GPS is integrated with the FleetCommander system, which uses the GPS to track mileage, vehicle location and driver behavior. All of that data feeds our reports. This has helped us get a handle on our fleet and provide better service to our city employees,” Scacco said.
Since the city is able to get accurate mileage, Scacco said preventive maintenance schedules are on time. In addition, drivers can report any mechanical issues with vehicles directly into the FleetCommander system each time they return a vehicle, which helps the city to be proactive with maintenance. Scacco said there was no accountability or trip reports before. “When there was damage to the cars, we had no idea who was responsible. We needed to have clear accountability for our assets,” he added.
From “free-for-all” to “all accounted for”
Scacco said that before implementing a fleet management information system, drivers treated city vehicles like a “free-for-all,” with drivers and departments taking advantage of the system. “I can remember one time (when) five cars were all taken with single drivers to the same meeting 60 miles away. Some project managers would get a car, drive three-fourths of a mile and keep it there all day, then return the car. Using a $25,000 asset to drive 2.5 miles a week is not what I call good utilization.”
Happy drivers, happy fleet
When asked how city employees feel about the system, Scacco said, “The city has a training policy for anyone who uses a city vehicle or equipment (including unions since the majority of people are union). We sit down with everyone and explain that we are not using these systems to reprimand or find fault with people, we are using them to collect data. In the beginning there was pushback, but now every department has a vehicle when they need it, which they didn’t have before, and the majority have a better vehicle and more choices for vehicle types, which people like. And, on certain occasions, a vehicle can be used multiple times a day. Now people are comfortable with it and it is working extremely well here in our union environment.”
For more success stories or information about the Agile Fleet fleet management information system in place in Stamford, Conn., visit www.agilefleet.com, email firstname.lastname@example.org or call (408) 213-9555, ext 1.
City of Stamford Fleet Quick Facts
• 1,100 fleet vehicles, including sedans, heavy-duty trucks, sanitation, park equipment
• Shares 29 vehicles in a motor pool
• Eliminated 51 vehicles from fleet
• Saved $178,000-plus in ongoing vehicle costs/year
• Generated one-time disposal income of $204,000
• Projected five-year savings of $1 million-plus
• Offers online reservations to drivers
• Tracks maintenance schedules
• Utilizes GPS technology
• Collects fleet data
• Manages driver profiles online
• Manages vehicle profiles online
• Has 100 percent accountability for vehicles