Often, fiscal constraints compel fleets to keep some vehicles and equipment in service for much longer than originally intended. As a consequence, maintenance costs increase, availability for vehicle and equipment use decreases and more frequent inspections and services are required. The dilemma becomes: When to replace aging vehicles and equipment rather than continue to repair them?
Typically, the overriding factor is money. But for the County of Fresno’s Fleet Services Division, facing the repair versus replace quandary on its aging fleet of mobile fueling and service trucks, the determining factor was – of all things – government regulations.
Fresno, nicknamed the Raisin Capitol, is located in the heart of California’s San Joaquin Valley, an area known for its large agricultural production. The fifth largest city in California, it is located south of Stockton and north of Bakersfield.
Fresno County covers some 6,000 square miles. Fleet Services manages the County’s vehicle and construction equipment fleet. Under the direction of Allen Moore, Fleet Services Manager, and Dennis Kerns and Greg Buckley, Fleet Services Supervisors, the division is responsible for the fleet’s maintenance and procurement. This includes fleet planning, acquisition, maintenance and sale of surplus equipment.
All maintenance is performed in one fully equipped shop that operates weekdays with one shift and 31 employees - 16 technicians, three welders, three parts people and the nine support people. The division also operates 19 fueling sites located throughout Fresno County, plus provides transportation services through a centralized motor pool.
Fleet Services’ fleet is composed of 850 cars and light trucks, 150 pieces of construction equipment and 145 heavy duty trucks and trailers, including the four mobile fueling and service trucks, says Moore.
The four mobile service vehicles are operated by employees from the County’s Public Works (PW) Department and each vehicle is domiciled at a specific PW yard, Kerns says. The old trucks were diesel-powered 1980 Ford flatbeds that had been jerry-rigged to serve as field service trucks. The trucks were used to change oil and fluids and do minor repairs and services to the County’s PW equipment in the field.
Despite the age of the trucks, the one element that pushed the decision to replace the trucks was environmental regulations.
In February 2006, the California Air Resources Board adopted the Diesel Particulate Matter Control Measure for on-road heavy duty diesel vehicles operated by public agencies, Moore explains. This regulation mandates that municipal vehicle owners reduce diesel particulate matter emissions from their affected vehicles.
As a result, Fleet Services implemented a diesel emission control plan to meet the requirements for “early implementation status,” he says. By doing more up front, this pushed out the compliance date to July 1, 2012.
This just didn’t make good business sense, says Moore. The decision was made to go with new equipment, designed specifically to the application and outfitted with the newest technology.
The objective was threefold: to spec the trucks to achieve operating and maintenance savings, to have the vehicles well-organized for quick and easy access to maximize jobsite productivity and to gain better control and accountability for the metered or pulsed consumables, such as gasoline and diesel, being dispensed into the construction equipment.
This type of accountability has been in place at all of the County’s fueling facilities for the past 15 years, he notes. Each location is equipped with an E.J. Ward automated fuel management system (www.ejward.com) to help assure the security and accountability of fuel.
Fleet Services uses the FleetFocus fleet management software from AssetWorks (www.assetworks.com), a provider of fleet asset and maintenance management solutions. Moore says FleetFocus is used to track all functions related to the maintenance of vehicles and equipment, including processing repair and preventive maintenance work orders, capturing operating expenses and doing billing and tracking for vehicle equipment usage.