Manager: Kelly Reagan

Title: Fleet administrator

Fleet: City of Columbus fleet division, Columbus, OH

Operation: Police, fire and municipal vehicle maintenance

PROBLEM

With a fleet of more than 3,100 cars, trucks, police cruisers and fire trucks, as well as 2,000-plus off-road vehicles, maintenance for the fleet division of Columbus becomes a complex task. The scope of equipment necessary to perform city functions calls for a variety of maintenance disciplines and knowledge requiring a focused effort, especially if Columbus wants to deliver the most cost-efficient and time-sensitive maintenance and repair services possible.

For starters, the city consolidated its maintenance division under one roof, condensing six spread-out shops into one centralized 160,000-sq.-ft. facility. The $26.4-million, 77-bay shop opened in March and is equipped with 16 heavy truck/fire apparatus service bays, parallelogram vehicle lifts, overhead cranes, fenced and covered vehicle storage areas, fueling pumps, secured parking, emergency generating power, and other amenities.

Yet Kelly Reagan, brought on as fleet administrator last year, says all the maintenance tools and shop space is worthless unless the people using them are skilled.

“The better we are at maintaining equipment, which allows us to ‘right size’ the fleet in terms of the number of assets we need, the better we are at reducing costs for the city,” Reagan says. “To do that, though, our technicians need to be computer and diagnostic experts. For example, the average midsized vehicle comes equipped with 17 computers. That electronic complexity is but one of the many challenges we face.”

SOLUTION

As Columbus embarked on its fleet consolidation effort several years ago, it injected a heavy dose of technician training into its strategy as well.

“We're making sure that every city vehicle has the best care available and that our mechanics are trained, professional and accountable,” says Mayor Michael Coleman.

Today, 59 of the city's 78 mechanics and supervisors are ASE-certified, holding a total of 301 certifications. In February, the National Institute for Automotive Service Excellence awarded the city of Columbus its “Blue Seal” ASE certification.

“This has increased the quality of mechanics watching over our fleet, and allows us to put more firefighters into neighborhood stations where they are needed most,” says Ned Pettus, the city's fire chief.

“Between our technicians, we hold 15 master certifications and an average of five certifications per technician on the floor,” he explains. “By continuing to train our people at this level, the better we are at coping with a variety of challenges, such as technological changes brought on by ever-tighter emissions standards, and we're also helping reduce costs for the city. Training our people to this degree has helped us move from a fleet maintenance mindset to a true fleet management approach.”

During the first two quarters of this year, Reagan notes, the fleet took 64 units out of service, replacing them with smaller vehicles — or not replacing them at all.

“[The mayor's] spent quite a bit of time and money on the fleet so we can play a bigger role in not only spending the taxpayer's money more wisely, but improving our green footprint as well. That's what training helps us do,” Reagan notes.


Maintenance Bay presents case studies detailing how fleets resolve maintenance-related issues.