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Keeping their feet fleet enough
Fleet management more than just cars
Herb Hajer has his hand on the wheel — both literally and figuratively — for the City of Winnipeg.
Hajer is chief operating officer of the city’s fleet of nearly 2,000 vehicles including ambulances, police cars and fire trucks.
His department is known as The Agency in city circles. Its job is to manage manage each of those vehicles and track everything from computer software to blown tires or ruptured gaskets.
"We’re certainly a city special op," Hajer says, noting that being in charge of the city’s transportation needs wasn’t always so complicated. "Way back when we would’ve been shoeing horses."
Like many Winnipeg motorists, Hajer pays close attention to gasoline prices. The fleet management agency uses about 25 million of litres of fuel each year.
"To keep help keep tabs on each fleet vehicle, the city uses an internal software system that tracks department equipment, fuel usage, maintenance and repairs," he says.
The agency employs six mechanics at five locations throughout the city. They are responsible for 444 light duty trucks, 231 sedans, 200 other trucks and more than 800 pieces of specialty, agricultural or industrial equipment or vehicles owned by the city.
"We have more than half a dozen heavy duty mechanic apprentices working here. It is a partnership with Red River College," Hajer said.
The department is responsible for more than basic repairs. Almost anything with moving parts that may requires fixing will show up at one of the three separate shops contained within Fleet HQ, located in the Centennial neighbourhood.
Fleet staff work on all kinds of manufacturing and fabrication services, including machining, welding, carpentry, metal fabrication and structural repair. The fleet’s machine shop is also used when modifications to vehicles and equipment are needed but not available through the original equipment manufacturers.
"For our trucks we buy chassis and dump box and then put together, again another way to cut costs," he says.
The machine shop also produces non-fleet related items such as signage, park benches, cages, and gates.
"When the Kildonan East pool sauna went down we were able to fix most of it right here," he said.
The agency was created in January 2003.
At the time of its inception, WFMA managed a fleet of approximately 2,300 vehicles and specialty equipment. Since then, the number has dipped to just under 1,900.
Prior to having the city’s fleet run by a special operating agency, Winnipeg was spending more than $42 million on fleet operating costs. The new business-first approach reduced fleet operating costs to $26 million.
Monty Perham, who has spent nearly a decade with the Agency and is the supervisor of life cycle cost management, says the city is much more proactive when it comes to using equipment than it was previously.
"There is involvement for the entire planning process of equipment," he says.
"We now start planning for its replacement the day it is purchased instead of waiting for it to break down," he said
"We now look for the lowest life cycle cost of equipment, not just lowest cost. We examine environmental impacts, use, all sorts of things beyond a simple financial cost to the city," he says.
Hajer says his department is eagerly awaiting results of more than two years of study and work on an emission reduction plan.
In September 2009, council adopted a corporate climate change action plan to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. At the same time, the fleet management agency developed a complimentary green fleet plan to help reduce GHG emissions significantly by reducing transportation emissions from fleet vehicles. Results from the first two year’s of the study are expected soon.
"It is more than two years of work and a report should be coming around this month," Hajer says.
While the agency is involved in most vehicle decisions, it remains in the background.
"People don’t think when all of a sudden 50 new police officers are asked for — where are their vehicles coming from and how do we keep a budget while at the same time finding new cars," he said.
Last fall, the Winnipeg Public Service recommended that Winnipeg Fleet Management Agency facilities on the east side of the Red River should be located at the former Elmwood Nairn Landfill site on Foster Street. The move combines some fleet services with public works and will result in the amalgamation of existing facilities throughout the city.
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(1 of 9 articles for this week)06/11/2013 11:37 AM 0
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