Moving Up in the World

Special Feature: Starting out on the right step when planning a new maintenance facility.

Are you thinking about moving into a new maintenance repair shop, or considering remodeling the one you currently operate out of? Before you hire an architect to begin the design, consider this: you may be saving yourself a great deal of time—and thousands of dollars—by retaining the services of a Fleet Management Facility Programmer (FMFP). By doing so you will probably end up in a facility that is vastly more operationally efficient, and fine-tuned to match the services your company provides.

Typically, an architect will approach a building solution by listing the client’s assumed needs, then designing the facilities according to the list. There are several things wrong with this approach.

If the architect and the fleet manager are unaware of new state-of-the-art capital equipment that can expedite repairs, reduce repair cost and increase productivity the new shop just becomes bigger box containing the current inefficient operation. If the fleet manager and the architect are not aware of operating inefficiencies—excessive or deficient staffing levels, oversized or aging fleets, inadequate inventory levels, or changing industry practices (“outsourcing,” for example)—the architect will probably not account for such conditions in the final product.

Architects may be first-class facilities designers, buy they don’t necessarily understand how to analyze current (and predict future) operations, and translate operational characteristics into design parameters.

What develops is a design that is prematurely outdated, inefficient, costly to remedy and possibly hazardous.


One way to avoid these pitfalls is to hire a professional FMFP, practiced at the art of designing and building according to what is really needed, correcting existing problems, and anticipating changes in industry practices. Decisions regarding new facilities are some of the most important ones you will be making. A professional FMFP knows these decisions are directly related to your level of productivity—how well you are able to deliver services.

Why does your owner want to invest in a new facility? Fleet repair shops have long been referred to by owners as “a big hole we throw money at,” but that comment falls well short of an accurate statement. More accurately, a fleet repair shop is a tool, and perhaps the most important tool an operation has in its arsenal to provide a profitable and cost effective delivery of service. The difference is subtle but important.

A well-conceived, planned and programmed facility will have a tremendous and positive impact on productivity, efficiency, and effectiveness. Designed and built accordingly, your facility can make active contributions to your operation. If, for example, the heating and cooling expenses in your new facility run 22 percent lower than in the old one, the contributions made by your facilities can be quantified and therefore measured in terms of dollars. New shops have proven to increase mechanic productivity by as much as 23 percent. Productivity adds up to dollars saved, improved uptime of the fleet, less mechanics required and less equipment (fleet size) due to improved reliability of the first line fleet. These are a few of the cost savings owners will view as measurable steps if you expect them to build you a new facility.

The FMFP has many, many measurable factors that reveal how your facility does more than just hold tools and production staff. Cost savings associated with reduced energy consumption is just one element of the “Facilities Payback Analysis,” an important weapon found in the FMFP’s arsenal. Imagine delivering a presentation to your owner or stockholders, armed with information that shows how the new facility you propose can actually pay for itself in, say, nine years? Would this not give the powers-that-be a gentle nudge towards approval?


Facilities requiring replacement fall into four general categories: they are either outgrown, outdated, in the wrong location or outcast.

This content continues onto the next page...

We Recommend