Managing a fleet in times of budget cuts demands creativity, vision and leadership. NAFA President Douglas Weichman, CAFM, Director of Fleet for Palm Beach County, is always looking for ways to increase fleet effectiveness and efficiency while reducing the fleet's overall operating budget. His latest move involves a new public vehicle maintenance plan for the County that outsources vehicle parts acquisition to NAPA's Genuine Parts Company.
"Palm Beach County, like many fleet operations, looks for ways to increase efficiencies and utilize processes to increase productivity, streamline processes, and control costs," said Weichman. "After researching and much due diligence it was determined the process of outsourcing the parts operation could deliver many efficiencies and cost savings."
While many believe that the majority of savings from outsourcing a fleet's parts room comes from reduced costs for parts and the purchase of lower grade parts, Weichman's analysis showed that his fleet could see significant savings without adversely affecting quality. In fact, he is projecting annual savings between $300,000 to $500,000 with faster repair times, meaning less time for vehicles to be out of commission.
The County's ongoing cost-cutting measures, necessitated by tax revenue shortfalls amid a difficult economy, also called for the elimination of four jobs. "This was hard as the employees were doing a great job within the arena they had to operate in; having to purchase parts and supplies in a government environment is very tedious, labor intensive and creates many stipulations that may not always be the most efficient method of completing this task."
However, Weichman said that all four of the former parts specialists have found other employment, including one that will be working for NAPA IBS as part of the contract. The fleet will retain the managerial responsibilities of tracking technician productivity, vehicle downtime, and percent of scheduled vs. non-scheduled repairs before and after the NAPA contract has taken effect.
Weichman praised NAFA, its informative networks, and its educational aspects for helping guide him to the best possible solution to Palm Beach County's issue. "Through NAFA, I was exposed to a practice which is becoming a solution and opportunity for more and more fleet operations to meet these sorts of objectives. I was able to attend courses on the process at the last I&E and reach out to members who have gone through this process, and to do onsite visits with fellow NAFA members who went through the process. NAFA allowed me to have an honest peer review of the process."