COMPANY:

City of Sacramento

OPERATION:

Municipal fleet supporting police, fire, refuse, infrastructure maintenance and general services

PROBLEM:

Responsible for 2,700 vehicles and pieces of mobile equipment, the City of Sacramento's fleet operations wanted to get a handle on costs by improving fuel economy while also enhancing shop and overall fleet productivity. Driver behavior and improved visibility of vehicle condition were identified as keys.

Tracking was limited, however, to manual records indicating vehicle assignments and scheduled routes. Vehicle condition reports were also handwritten by drivers completing pretrip inspections and submitted to the city's shop operation for manual input into the work-order system.

A GPS tracking system and electronic data capture were clearly the way to go. “We did some pilots with multiple GPS vendors, which created an inherent behavior change in drivers and as much as a 25% improvement in fuel economy,” says Jonathon Yee, fleet operations manager. “So we knew the potential ROI was there just in fuel savings.”

The question, though, was how did the fleet also get better vehicle condition visibility without adding to its technology investment?

SOLUTION:

The answer was a system that combined a number of onboard wireless technologies in an integrated package that included a web-based fleet management portal to deliver the information where it could be best used to improve fleet operations and productivity.

Initially, the city installed two related technologies from Zonar Systems in 184 of its vehicles representing 14 different vehicle types. All were equipped with V2J, a hardwired GPS receiver and wireless communication device that delivers real-time vehicle location, as well as fuel consumption and performance data. Heavier trucks subject to pretrip inspection requirements were also fitted with Zonar's EVIR (electronic vehicle inspection report), an RFID-tag-based system that replaces paper inspection checklists with verifiable electronic data capture.

That initial installation “identified savings in excess of $60,000/month in fuel costs alone, quite an impressive figure considering the cost to equip those 184 vehicles was just over $110,000,” says Keith Leech, fleet manager. “Utilizing trip-level metrics on operator behavior and vehicle performance directly impacts behaviors and leads to improved fuel efficiency.”

The bonus with the Zonar system was the inspection package, adds Yee. With RFID tags installed at critical locations around the truck, “the driver has to go to each location with the handheld scanner, so it's a verified inspection,” he says. “Plus, the inspection information is electronically stored and automatically downloaded to the main database, so we can review it and react without waiting for paper records to be turned in and entered into the shop system.”

The inspection information, as well as tracking data, is accessed via Zonar's Ground Traffic Control web portal. Currently, the city is finalizing integration of that data with its fleet management system. “That means defects reported by the driver's pretrip inspection will automatically come into our system as work requests for that unit, and we won't have to access two systems to manage the repair process,” says Yee. “That will be huge for our folks. We can't wait to turn it on.”

Sacramento has installed the Zonar technology in 400 vehicles and is moving forward with both retrofits and installations in all new vehicles. “Our goal is to put the majority of the fleet on the system,” says Yee.