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future fleet forum

Future Fleet Forum workshop speakers, from left to right: Keith Kerman, chief fleet officer for New York City. Eric Richardson, deputy fleet officer for New York City. Austin Birks, Bus and Coach Forum chair and CILT Transport and Logistics Safety Forum vice chair.

collaborated is way beyond any other category. And we have pulled together because we know it is in our best interests.’ Two major vehicle buying groups have formed, representing the largest collaborative police vehicle buying groups. They achieved £13m of savings over two years purchasing 6,000 vehicles. This provoked debate among the delegates to close out Arend’s session. Some were concerned that such buying power might lock out innovation while others commented that the emergency services are often resistant to collaboation because they want to keep existing relationships with suppliers. 'This is true,' said Arend, but he added that collaboration in this way is essential when organisations are facing budget restraints yet are still expected to deliver the same service. ‘We are buying better and that means consolidating, collaborating, and aggregating. If everyone moves forward together, success takes care of itself.’

NYC fleet consolidation 'Fleet consolidation in NYC saved the city over US $365 million,' said NYC Chief Fleet Officer Keith Kerman. ‘The police department, NYPD, is a big partner for us. With over 9,600 listed vehicles, they are a huge supporter of innovation and a major player in our shared servicing and consolidation.’ But none of it was easy. Roles and locations changed for 280 staff with 90 moving to different agencies. It was a challenging transition. ‘We have some very powerful and important agencies, themselves as large as most City governments, each with their own entrenched cultures, so it is very hard to make certain types of changes.’ When Keith started in his role, there were 10 major agencies in fleet – 50 in total – and the extent of a centralised operation amounted to a database and some common buying. ‘When I was at NYC Parks, if you asked who managed the Parks fleet, I would have said we do. I wouldn’t have mentioned a central agency.’ Mayor Bloomberg wanted fleet run as one operation, so NYC embarked on the fleet consolidation programme. NYC Fleet was created by executive order and the intention was that there would be one common fleet with common procurement, common sourcing, and the agencies would service each other. ‘It was a case of: we have to break these silos and work together.’ 'But you can’t just be the grim reaper,' Keith pointed out. 'It’s no good just going in and closing garages, taking vehicles, and losing people. You can’t effect long-term strategic change just by top down mandates of cost cutting and closings that will be viewed negatively and resisted. So our strategy was that we would invest in core – police, fire, sanitation, mechanics, and new vehicles while dramatically restructuring and save in non-core such as facilities, parts, fuel, auction, claims, non-emergency cars, and leasing. As one

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result, while we have implemented countless cost savings and re-engineering projects, vehicle acquisitions have gone way up, especially for core trucks and emergency services.’ And all fleet managers have been brought together in a fleet federation. ‘We have a two-hour meeting every two weeks. Getting everyone in a room together is absolutely critical. Different agencies often want to do completely different things. Getting them together and having them work each other in person is essential.’ A consolidation programme like this did have to involve some closures. ‘We closed ten garages and transferred two others between agencies. These types of things are never popular. The unions had concerns about consolidation and they don’t like closing facilities. But we cut back on facilities and invested in hires. No one lost their job.’ For servicing, parts, and fuel, the aim was to give city vehicles access to the whole private marketplace. Even though most repair is in-house, City vehicles now have a contract way to use any private repair shop if needed. These are inspected by city mechanics. The same is true for fuel. We have access to all private fuel stations and the city itself also runs 420 fuel sites are part of its resilience infrastructure – the importance of which was hammered home by Hurricane Sandy. Then there’s parts – ‘one of the more contentious, and I think most successful, of our initiatives,’ admits Keith. ‘We still have US$48m in on-hand parts, and that is post our initiative. The fact is, municipals often don’t do inventory well. A recent audit asserted that 28% of the parts inventory wasn’t used. Currently, we have $10 million in inventory that hasn’t been used in two years. You have to have a different model. Now, at 15 of our locations, though not yet all, we have a company that controls our inventory, takes all the risks, and we only pay for what we use.’ A similar attitude to car sharing means NYC uses both private Zip Cars and Local Motion technology to share city vehicles, including EVs. ‘What's more sustainable than an electric vehicle operated through car share and powered by solar? It works, it is viable, but it is a culture change. ‘I believe fleet is the industry that will make the transition for transport,’ said Keith in closing. ‘Most of us still own cars we don’t use most of the time. Fleet could be the answer for public transport in many ways. After all, it is potentially quicker to bring sustainability to fleets than switch-over the private cars of 260 million Americans. The technology is very promising and it works, but it has only just started. And it is all predicated on the ability of fleet to share its assets and use them in more creative ways.’ So that’s the challenge to fleet managers globally in 2018. Can this be the industry that makes meaningful progress on sustainability? The Future Fleet Partnership is all about sharing best practice on a global level. If you want to join, get in touch:

LAPV June 2018  
LAPV June 2018