How the City of Oxnard became an award-winning fleet by sharing technology and information with everyone.
Located about an hour northwest of Los Angeles, the City of Oxnard, California has grown from a sleepy agricultural community to a thriving city with over 200,000 residents. Oxnard is the largest city in Ventura County and is home to two large U.S. Navy bases, as well as many diverse industrial and commercial developments. Oxnard has the only deep water port between Los Angeles and San Francisco and is a major transportation hub for Amtrak and Greyhound. With so much to offer, including fertile soil, beautiful beaches and a temperate climate year round, it is easy to understand Oxnard’s appeal.
As the city has grown, the city’s fleet has grown as well. Oxnard’s Fleet Services Division is responsible for acquisition, disposal, fueling, maintenance, and repair of the City’s $34 million vehicle and equipment fleet. The fleet is comprised of over 900 vehicles and maintained by 32 technicians. Dan Berlenbach joined the Fleet Services Division as Fleet Manager in 2004. At that point, the city was relying on a homegrown database with paper work orders. With Dan’s background as a former Air Force fleet manager for almost 30 years, he understood the valuable role that technology can play in keeping a fleet running at an optimal level.
The City of Oxnard became an AssetWorks customer in 2005 and through the deployment of FleetFocus they transitioned to a paperless shop. Fleet Services deployed FleetFocus with InfoCenter and kiosks on the shop floor for technicians to interact with the system in real-time.
“We converted to AssetWorks software from a homegrown database with paper work orders and little to no historical data. Our technicians were able to master the software almost immediately and our efficiency quickly improved. The software’s capabilities are almost limitless, and we’ve been very successful at exploiting those capabilities to better serve our customers,” said Dan Berlenbach, Fleet Services Manager for the City. He continued, “We’re now a paperless shop with excellent data integrity and the ability to offer the information that our customers demand. I especially value the software’s strong analysis and reporting packages that have enabled us to implement fact-based management of the fleet.”
Three years later the shop moved from shared workstations to individual laptops for each technician, which allows the technician to work in real time, capturing vehicle information and reporting the labor for each task. In addition, the laptops allow the technicians immediate access to diagnostic data that comes directly from the vehicles onboard computer. Once the issue has been diagnosed, the technician is able to add to his work order on the spot, in real-time, with no lost time awaiting his turn at the kiosk.
Dashboards and Key Performance Indicators
FleetFocus offers robust reporting functionality that is capable of processing a tremendous amount of data into whatever format is desired by management. However, this data is also useful to have at the fingertips of technicians working on the fleet. FleetFocus’ dashboard/Key Performance Indicators provide real-time access to the FleetFocus database through easy-to-interpret gauges and charts. This provides a visual reference of what is happening in the maintenance system and prompts immediate solutions to immediate problems.
“I’m a big believer in fact-based management. We want decisions to be made on data versus intuition or a look out the window”, says Berlenbach. As part of their implementation, Fleet Services began by asking the question “What should be measured?” They established multiple Key Performance Indicators and set up dashboards that illustrate them. Their goal was to transform the data in to practical and usable information. When a technician logs on, he will see dashboards that show him real-time information such as Current In-Service Rates and Productivity Rate customised to each user. A technician won’t see the same information that a parts room person might see, for example.
The City of Oxnard went a step further and shared the dashboards with their internal clients. Everyone who is connected to the system can see the same information in real-time. For example, both the technician and refuse departments will see dashboards that show the number of roll-off trucks available for the day. This allows the refuse department to plan accordingly and also shows the technician where his work is needed most. By keeping the Fleet Management System so transparent, everyone is able to work towards the same goals with a tremendous amount of accountability.
Berlenbach and his team also use the dashboards for analysis and discussion at staff meetings. If their productivity goes down, they are able to address it as a team. They review the internal and external factors that cause the problems and they are able to take action to correct the problem based on verified information. This is true management through facts.
Parts and Inventory
To handle the parts needed to keep the fleet running, the City of Oxnard relies on their integrated business solution with NAPA. NAPA staffs and maintains an actual parts shop at the City’s fleet facility. Prior to establishing this system, each technician was responsible for researching and ordering his parts. This was an inefficient system that took time away from the technicians whose true skill is in the maintenance of the fleet vehicles. It also meant that technicians might be ordering similar parts from different vendors which can be a less cost-effective process.
NAPA provided the solution to this issue. NAPA employees are experts on product information and ordering. While working in FleetFocus, a technician is able to place a general order for a part and NAPA’s staff does the product research and completes the work of the order. For example, a technician might need to order a “ball joint for the left upper side” of a certain vehicle. That order is generated through FleetFocus and sent directly to NAPA who has a FleetFocus screen. The NAPA staff researches the part number, places the order and either delivers the part to the technician or has it ready for pick up at the window. NAPA’s staff also maintains and updates an appropriate inventory based on Oxnard’s needs.
How FleetFocus Helps the City of Oxnard Excel
The fact that FleetFocus captures labor time and parts information in real-time is useful for reporting and planning, and also plays a big role in billing. The City of Oxnard bills its internal customers on a Time & Materials basis. With FleetFocus’ sophistication, the City is able to bill its customers to the minute. NAPA also has the ability to enter all costs associated with the part in FleetFocus which allows Oxnard to track and bill these charges back to its internal customers using a single system.
In 2008, Government Fleet magazine recognised the City of Oxnard as the #3 Public Sector Fleet in the country. In the article announcing this award, Government Fleet recognised the City’s improved efficiency and increased vehicle availability through development of 26 key metrics on technician and customer dashboards; reduced repair cycle times and enhanced diagnostics through deployment of wireless laptop computers to technicians; and enhanced employee performance with a new Pit Crew Team award that evaluates direct labor, comebacks, safety, and housekeeping. “We are proud to have played a role in the City of Oxnard’s recognition as one of the country’s top fleets. The Fleet Services Division has excelled at using technology to better manage their fleet,” says Jim Schnepp, Vice President of AssetWorks.
Although proud of his fleet’s success, Berlenbach continues to strive for future improvements. His goals include implementing more KPIs for tracking and assessment and he would like to deploy the dashboards to more customers. Oxnard’s Fleet Services Division has embraced the technology as a tool that helps each employee perform at his or her job better.
“Without good data and the ability to analyse it, it’s impossible to have good management,” states Berlenbach. “FleetFocus enables our good management and stewardship of the city’s fleet.”