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How To Manage A Transportation Agency

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Length: 1892 words (5.4 double-spaced pages)
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Introduction
How to review a fleet management operation is a difficult question for federal agencies. Fleet management operations are composed of many diverse tasks and responsibilities. Today, managing and operating a fleet of motor vehicles has become both challenging and rewarding. Fleet personnel must understand the vehicle acquisition market, maintenance and repairs, vehicle disposal and all the regulations and policies affecting use of motor vehicles. This requires extensive training for fleet managers.

A comprehensive fleet management can help to develop a good strategie. Companies can save a lot of money if rightsizing the fleet and ensuring proper vehicle utilization. Fleet operations as a source of cost savings has been proven by many fleets in the private sector and can be achieved in the federal government. Over the years fleet management has developed some bad habits for example:

-Highly decentralized vehicle assignment policies- vehicles and equipment are owned and maintained by numerous independent units of a government entity.
-Vehicles that are assigned to individuals rather than used as a pool vehicle decrease vehicle utilization.
-Determining your fleet size based on peak demand. Fleet operations that meet 100% demand in the middle of the week may have many idle vehicles at the end of the week.
-Excessive downtime for vehicle repairs and requires a larger fleet to provide replacement vehicles for drivers.
-Unresponsive to changing technology and working conditions. Retaining vehicles that are not suited to the work requirements may increase fleet costs and reduce worker productivity.

An efficient fleet management program can be reached if the companies reviewing their entire fleet operations. They have to analyze that they have the required types and numbers of vehicles needed. Companies have to evaluate their fleet periodically to ensure that proper use and full utilization are maintained. Many "targets of opportunity" exist for reducing fleet costs, for example:

-Eliminate vehicles from the fleet that are not being properly utilized or that are unnecessary to meeting the goals of the company. Consider not only the vehicle's monthly mileage, but also the time a vehicle is used.
-The use of local modes of transportation such as taxis, public transit, privately owned vehicles and rental vehicles.
-Justify maintaining medium and heavy vehicles that have very low utilization (time and mileage). Consider pooling these vehicles for centralized use or partner with other agencies.

Let's see a few parts of the managing:
The fleet manager have to know everything from their company. It is really hard if the company's main mission is only the transportation. They have to get the knowledge from the clients. Of course they have to know all kind of vehicles in the fleet and they have to keep contact with special transportation companies.It will help to determine if the companiy have the required number of vehicles and types of vehicles to accomplish the mission. Visits to field locations should be performed by an Agency Fleet Manager periodically so they are familiar with the types of work being performed and the types of vehicles required.

Review of the fleet management
A review of the fleet management operations should be looked upon as an opportunity for improvement and cost savings. To review the operations, you must be familiar with your company and the climate in which it operates. Does your company have a mission statement and is it incorporated in how you manage your fleet operations? An auditor will gather pre-audit data to familiarize himself with your agency. He may ask for information about your agency and any written documentation maintained on your fleet operations. This section of the template will aid you in determining if you have these items readily available for use by an auditor. It also helps you to learn more about your organization and how your fleet is operated. If readily available, include any of the requested documents as an attachment to the template.

Fleet Financial Info
How your fleet is funded is very important and something you should be very familiar with. The ability to replace vehicles on an established replacement program is critical to cost effective fleet management. Typically, companies that manage their fleet operations with a revolving fund have newer vehicles. They are able to replace vehicles on an established replacement program and are not as affected by budget shortfalls. Agencies who use appropriated funds may be limited to how often they can replace vehicles and maintain them properly. Appropriated funds for vehicles are subject to being eliminated by various political entities inside and outside the agency. Agencies should look for ways to turn their fleet operations into a revolving fund that is able to generate funds for proper vehicle maintenance and replacement.

Fleet Management Systems
A Fleet Management System (FMS) is critical for a cost effective and efficient fleet management operation. Whether it is a commercial off the shelf or an in-house system, a FMS can help you reduce paperwork and costs. It is the most efficient way to maintain fleet records so information can be routinely analyzed and delivered to meet any reporting requirements you may have in a timely manner. A FMS can manage your inventory, maintenance and fuel programs including preventive maintenance, replacement cycles, safety and accident program, driver records, and disposal program. You can maintain data on a vehicle from the moment it is acquired until it is time for disposing of it. This historical data can be used to monitor the lifecycle of a vehicle and establish guidelines for its maintenance and utilization. There are many fleet software applications and functions available. When evaluating your needs, make sure that the FMS you select is compatible with other systems within your agency.

Vehicle Acquisition, Determination of Need, Fleet Composition, and Alternative Fuel Vehicles
As federal fleet managers, environmental laws, rules, and regulations govern many of your vehicle acquisition decisions. With a few exceptions, seventy-five percent of all of your new vehicle acquisitions must be alternative fuel vehicles. It is very important that you make careful considerations in acquiring vehicles, determining needs and fleet composition. The choices you make in these areas determine if you are in compliance with the AFV mandates and still able to manage a cost effective and efficient fleet operation. As an agency fleet manager, you need written policies to outline for your drivers and field managers how to determine when a vehicle is needed, how to acquire it and what types of vehicles are available to meet your agency's mission. Many organizations reduce fleet costs by limiting the types of vehicles and optional equipment packages available for acquisition by field managers. Exceptions to the "standard" vehicle would have to be approved at the regional or national level. Also, establishing a written replacement cycle for vehicles by type based on age and/or mileage enables many organizations to reduce fleet costs by maintaining a newer fleet. Maintaining a newer fleet allows you to take optimal advantage of a manufacturer's warranty program and keeps your maintenance costs low.

Maintenance and Fuel Programs
A crucial part of reviewing your fleet management operations is the analysis of your maintenance and fuel programs. Other than the initial vehicle acquisition costs, a significant amount of your expenses are in these two programs. A fleet management system will enable you to manage and monitor these programs more effectively. Whether you have an in-house maintenance facility, a cross service agreement with another agency, or use commercial maintenance and fueling facilities, a fleet management system can be tailored to track all of your expenses. You can analyze reports and look for unnecessary or fraudulent expenses. It can also help you determine when to dispose of a vehicle due to excessive maintenance costs. Preventive maintenance should be a critical part of your maintenance program. Preventive maintenance helps you to maintain vehicles at their peak performance and ensures safety guidelines are being adhered to. You should also verify that your maintenance and fueling programs adhere to all federal, state, and local environmental and safety laws and regulations. You should seek advice from you agency's designated Safety and Environmental office for assistance in reviewing your maintenance and fuel operations.

Fleet Safety
Fleet Safety is becoming an increasingly important factor in fleet management programs. Your fleet safety program should include a driver selection and screening process, a driver-training program, a crash reporting system, and a safe driving incentive awards program. You should determine what is the goal of your safety program. The goal could be to reduce the number of crashes in your agency each year and minimize the expenses associated with crashes. The expenses associated with motor vehicle crashes not only include the vehicle repairs, but also the vehicle downtime and personnel time spent on managing the repairs and reporting requirements. Initial driver screening and selection can help eliminate any problem drivers who may have a history of crashes and/or motor vehicle violations. Screening drivers on a routine basis can also help your agency with regards to liability if your driver is found to be negligent in a crash. Driver's training should also be routinely administered to your employees. Most agencies accomplish this task in-house by purchasing commercial off the shelf training manuals and videos. There is also web-based driver training available for a fee from commercial companies. Your agency should use a standard procedure for reporting crashes and handling the repairs of your vehicles. The procedures should communicate to your driver what to do if he is involved in a crash. Your driver should never admit liability for a crash on the scene. Be sure to seek advice from your agency's general counsel's office for more information on your agency's and driver's personal liability with regards to crashes. You can also get information from your agency's designated safety office on motor vehicle crashes and other pertinent policies including the use of wireless telephones while driving. A fleet management system can also be tailored to maintain the data on your agency's motor vehicle crashes. The data should be analyzed for trends and the proper actions taken against drivers who have multiple crashes. A FMS system will also help you analyze and evaluate the repair costs and warranty program for repairs. These records can facilitate the development of a safe driving incentive awards program. It is important to recognize your drivers for good driving habits. A formal safety program for encouraging safe driving will help reduce the number of crashes your agency has each year and reduce your fleet expenses.

Conclusion
Fleet Management has evolved over the years as a profession. Fleet Managers have complex activities and responsibilities within fleet management that require more knowledge and comprehension then ever before. The companys request that agencies take a closer look at their fleet operations should be viewed as an opportunity to highlight one of the best programs in federal personal property management.

Bibliography: Fleet Management and Logistics
edited by Teodor Gabriel Crainic, Gilbert Laporte
International Journal of Logistics: Research and Applications
Vol. 7, No. 2, June 2004

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