Company: Pepsi-Cola North America, Somers, N.Y.

Operation: National manufacturing and distribution operation with over 20,000 power units, some 8,000 trailers, and nearly 200 shops; Dave Wood, national director, plant operations

Problem: How can a widespread fleet operation quickly standardize fleet maintenance practices and gain a centralized database on which to base fleet-wide equipment decisions?

In a nutshell, that was the challenge facing the managers responsible for the fleet operation serving 12 regional business units of Pepsi-Cola North America.

The Pepsi-Cola fleet, which runs a varied mix of equipment out of several hundred locations across the country, was missing out on the advantages of standardized maintenance and purchasing practices.

This was because the fleet performed management tasks using a variety of standalone computerized systems, which had been selected over time on a shop-by-shop basis.

As a result, reports Pepsi's Dave Wood, only a few standard maintenance practices had been instituted.

It was also difficult to identify ' let alone address ' equipment problems common to vehicles across the entire fleet.

Solution: According to Wood, after reviewing computerized systems already in use by its fleet, Pepsi found the comprehensive solution it was looking for in Prototype Inc.'s e.fleet package.

Pepsi's Seattle-based Northwest business unit had been using Prototype's FleetAnywhere system. The e.fleet setup is a configuration of that product.

What's different is e.fleet places the computer server and database in Prototype's headquarters and all the workstations needed in Pepsi shops across North America.

The workstations connect to the server via a T-1 high-speed Internet connection line accessible to Pepsi's wide area network and corporate Intranet.

For its part, Prototype is responsible for configuring and maintaining the server and the database. It's required to handle all nightly backups, as well as installation of new software versions as they become available.

One advantage to Pepsi of implementing e.fleet was that it doesn't require any IS resources other than those already allocated to the rollout of the Windows NT-based workstations in the shops.

'We're essentially letting Prototype act as our IS department for this application,' notes Wood. 'With e.fleet, we can run the fleet-management program without having to invest in internal resources to set up and maintain the system.'

Thanks to e.fleet, according to Wood, Pepsi plans to create a single, centralized fleet database; standardize its fleet-related business and PM practices; and identify and recover warranty costs for each unit.

Pepsi will also use the system to identify and retire equipment no longer needed to support its product-distribution operation.

As of press time, all of the shops in Pepsi's 12 North American business units were scheduled to be hooked up to e.fleet.