George Survant, senior director, fleet at Time Warner Cable knows exactly the direction he wants to focus on for the future of the telecom provider’s vehicle operation. “We have to manage for the minimum cost per month over the life cycle of the vehicle,” he said. “If we use best practices to drive up reliability, we not only have lower costs, but we’re in a better position to meet customer expectations and improve our customers’ experience.”
It Was a Dark and Stormy Night
It was one of those very intense New England winter storms that, in February 2011, buried Vermont in up to 4 feet of snow, not counting drifting snow. So much snow had piled up during the night that when Dan Mackey, fleet manager for Central Vermont Public Service, headed for his office in Rutland, he realized it was impossible to make it. The roads had not yet been sufficiently cleared, so Mackey had to settle for the nearby Poultney, Vt., office to try to manage the fleet from there.
“The challenge of operating on a flat budget requires us to look for cost-saving measures on an annual basis,” says Richard Dwornik, business manager for transportation and equipment services at We Energies. “That and other management challenges lead to the need for a comprehensive process of benchmarking our fleet. Equipment utilization and staffing issues, for example, are among the things that drive us to see what other utilities are doing and to identify best practices that we can incorporate into our fleet management processes.
“We’re evaluating data on our operation and comparing it to the industry average as well as to historical and current internal benchmarks,” Dwornik continues. “We look at measurements of vehicle utilization, cost per unit, work order touches per unit, fuel usage, operating costs and staffing levels.”
Central Vermont Public Service (CVPS), headquartered in Rutland, is one of the largest businesses in Vermont and the state’s largest electric company. The utility, which was organized in 1929 with the consolidation of eight electric companies, traces its roots to more than 100 companies, including one dating back to 1858.
A shareholder-owned electric utility, CVPS serves one of the most rural territories in the country, with just 18 customers per mile of line. Its customer base, however, numbers more than 159,000 in 163 communities. Due to the size of its operating territory, CVPS utilizes 617 miles of transmission line and 8,806 miles of distribution line to meet customer power needs.
When you have upward of 200,000 members to make happy, there’s more than a little pressure on any fleet manager to make smart and effective decisions. For Jim Petty, fleet supervisor for Pedernales Electric Cooperative (PEC) – the country’s largest – the recent purchase of a Kenworth T370 hybrid truck is turning out to be the right choice.
“Not only will we be saving up to 50 percent in our fuel bills, but we’re doing something positive for our workers and the environment when it comes to emissions,” said Petty. “We expect the Kenworth hybrid to pay for the cost difference against a standard T370 in a short period. After that, we’ll save substantial money during our eight- to 10-year trade cycle. And we’ll be doing our part to be green.”
For the City of Sacramento, Calif., the recent implementation of vehicle telematics has led to significant reductions in fleet fuel consumption and operating costs. Recently, the municipal fleet equipped more than 400 of its vehicles with electronic fleet management products from Zonar Systems.