Utilities Share Fleet Management Best Practices

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Valuable information from managers and directors

BY PHILL FELTHAM, Executive Editor
Electricity Today Magazine

Electric utilities are facing operational cutbacks and lower budgets due to the recent economic downturn. However, many of these same utilities are taking a fresh approach to maintaining high levels of service without hiring more people or buying more trucks. Recently, Electricity Today Magazine spoke to utility fleet managers and directors from several electric utilities on a variety of different topics including fleet management best practices, lessons learned, and maintenance.

LESSONS LEARNED
Q: What lessons learned from past mistakes shape the utility’s current fleet management program?

“Based on our past experiences, we have learned that we need to keep a consistent and level capital funding mechanism.”
– Arthur Macey, Director of Fleet Services, Florida Power & Light Company

“Keeping assets beyond their useful life drives increased operating expenses and decreased operators’ satisfaction.”
– Mark Johnson, Director of Fleet Operations, DTE Energy

BEST PRACTICES
Q: What are some of the utility’s best practices for effective fleet management?

“Our best practices include fuel management, long range outlook, consistent funding, asset utilization, accurate data and data integration, software systems, regulatory and standard understanding, training, and accident management.”
– Richard Douglas, Fleet Manager, Nashville Electric Service

“At FPL, we benchmark our progress with top-notch utility companies, form strategic alliances with major supply partners, and support an alternative fuel program that aligns with our corporate strategy on green energy. We also apply Six Sigma [set of techniques and tools for process improvement] tools to all decision making processes.”
– Arthur Macey, Director of Fleet Services, Florida Power & Light Company

“We maintain a central database with vehicle-related records that capture the entire costs of ownership.”
– Mark Johnson, Director of Fleet Operations, DTE Energy

MAINTENANCE
Q: How have electric utilities been able to maintain fleet vehicles without hiring more staff and buying more vehicles?

“We hired a fleet management company several years ago to provide a consistent high level of service to our clients. Accompanying an outsourced fleet management company is a network of privately owned garages that perform the majority of our required maintenance.”
– Peter Michaud, Fleet Manager, NB Power

“Having a comprehensive preventative maintenance program over the years has enabled our vehicles to stay in service longer between replacement cycles and has had less of an impact on our operations. Temporary staffing and increased outsourcing of some larger jobs has also been a practice used by our fleet garage operations team to help maintain high levels of service without hiring more people.”
– Arthur Macey, Director of Fleet Services, Florida Power & Light Company

“Minimizing the number of assets maintained gave us room for more strategic spending.”
– Mark Johnson, Director of Fleet Operations, DTE Energy

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