By: Shawna Laird, Business Manager & Business Services Team
In the last several years, Utilization Management and Shared Resources have been ‘in the news, on the horizon, and adopted in budget goals and fleet business plans. In 2012, we are challenged at looking deeper – into the small “stuff” and the specialty equipment.
We all recognize that every fleet has a substantial investment in vehicle and equipment assets that their customers need for the delivery of service; and we know the goal of a Utilization Management Program is to balance under and over utilized vehicles and equipment for a more efficient and cost effective use of the fleet assets. We have traditionally overlooked a large category of fleet assets, the small and specialty assets, and we all have plenty of them. Often times, we have one for every service center or for every crew throughout the agency jurisdiction.
We are targeting specialized and small equipment that may or may not have meters on them, but are included on your fleet asset list. Small and specialized equipment is often overlooked or put on the back burner for utilization management programs and planning. It is time to track the ‘use’ of this type of asset and record use patterns. Need vs. convenience?
Make it an objective in 2013 to begin accurate tracking of the use of these units throughout your agency. Look at alternative technologies for tracking use, such as Automated Vehicle Location (AVL), Global Positioning Systems (GPS) and Automated Pooling Systems (APS). These are available to track the actual use of the equipment. This technology tracks the number of times the equipment/vehicle is operated rather than the number of engine hours or miles driven or even days in use. In small and specialized equipment the number of times the unit is used is a better measure of the use than hours or miles driven.
Once you have data on the actual ‘use’ of the small assets divide them into three categories: Retain, Consider for Shared Resources, and Reduce Fleet.
Once you have identified units that could be better utilized in a shared environment between operating customers, consider consolidating these units into a central rental center where the equipment can be reserved when truly needed and shared between customers in the agency.
In many cases it may be more fiscally responsible to rent the types of equipment that have been identified as underutilized from commercial sources. Be sure to have contracts in place for commercial rentals. Utilization balancing reduces fleet costs by balancing usage of all units within a specified class and within an annual time frame across the entire agency. Be sure to update your Utilization Policy to include these assets.
The FleetPros Blog is written and moderated by the Business Manager with contributions from the membership and Business Services Team.