The City of Lemoore, California, deployed Dossier fleet maintenance software in September of 2008 to help manage the maintenance of its 200 vehicle fleet – everything from police cars and pickups to heavy trucks. But overcoming resistance to change took time. That’s why the benefits of Dossier didn’t become obvious until June 2009, but then they were impressive.
Before Dossier, Lemoore had employed three full-time mechanics plus part timers, and fleet maintenance cost was exceeding budget by between $50,000 and $70,000 a year. City manager Jeff Briltz asked Jason Shaw to find out why.
Jason Shaw came to Lemoore in April of 2008 with a management degree and a wealth of hands-on experience. Shaw had worked as an industrial mechanic for Alcoa. Before that he had served as a mechanic in the U.S. Navy on the U.S.S. Nimitz. There Shaw played a crucial role in the implementation of a new safety-related software system aboard the nuclear-powered super-carrier.
Shaw’s title in Lemoore is project coordinator, but he reports directly to Briltz.
“A lot of the problems were obvious,” Shaw said of the fleet maintenance operation. “For one thing, they weren’t accounting for overhead in their billing costs.”
More challenging, he said, was a lack of organization; nothing was standardized.
“One mechanic would do maintenance completely differently from another mechanic. I knew they needed a lot more organization. That’s why I began looking at maintenance management software,” he said.
Shaw interviewed everyone in the department prior to shopping for software. Then he contacted a number of suppliers and set up nine demos in all.
“I’ll say honestly Dossier is the most intuitive, and I think it is the easiest to learn,” Shaw said. “That was one of the reasons I wanted to go with Dossier.”
After installation and training, employee resistance to the new software – and the more intentional approach to fleet maintenance — was obvious. “It became extremely frustrating,” Shaw said.
Finally, in June, the city made some management changes that included an ultimatum to the department: they had one year to turn things around or maintenance would be outsourced.
“That’s when we started to really see changes,” Shaw said. “It’s been huge since then.”
First of all, Dossier enabled greater accountability for mechanics’ time. As a result, one mechanic was transferred out of the division for an immediate savings of approximately $70,000 annually.
Before Dossier, a worker spent approximately 40 hours a month transferring data from fuel vendor reports into an Excel spreadsheet. Now it takes only 20 minutes a week for Dossier’s Fuel Import feature to bring that data into the Dossier database – one hour and 20 minutes a month instead of 40 hours for an estimated savings of $9,000 annually.
Dossier’s Inventory Management system enabled Lemoore to reestablish an inventory of frequently used parts. The city had largely stopped stocking parts rather than deal with its inability to account for inventory. Now, Lemoore is able to buy some items in bulk, which lowers initial cost as well as the cost of shipping. The city estimates the savings will be $4,000 annually, but it will really be more. Having parts on hand has all but eliminated the practice of sending mechanics on parts-buying errands.
The city also anticipates that Dossier will extend the usable life of its vehicles.
“One of the principle reasons we got rid of vehicles in the past was transmission issues. Turns out we hadn’t been servicing transmissions on any vehicles. By servicing vehicles the way they’re supposed to be serviced, we can run vehicles for much longer,” Shaw said.
Dossier enables input of manufacturer recommended preventive maintenance intervals and prompts the shop when a vehicle needs attention. The impact of regular maintenance will extend beyond transmissions to other vehicle components. Shaw projects that longer component and vehicle life will save the city between $60,000 and $70,000 annually.
According to Shaw, Dossier has enabled the Lemoore fleet shop to streamline and redirect its efforts. Before Dossier, he said, approximately 50% of wrench time was spent on preventive maintenance and 50% on corrective maintenance – break-downs and repairs. Now Lemoore mechanics spend approximately 80% of wrench time on preventive maintenance and only 20% on corrective maintenance.
As a result, said Shaw, vehicles are serviced more quickly and the city’s vehicles experience less downtime overall. That’s something that benefits every department in the City of Lemoore – and the taxpayers.