City of Fort Wayne and First Vehicle Services: Working Together for a Quality Fleet Management Operation

Overview of Fort Wayne

The City of Fort Wayne is Indiana’s second largest city, with a population of 230,000 and a diverse vehicle and equipment fleet of 1,740 vehicles, including law enforcement, fire apparatus and rescue, public works, and construction units.

Previous Fleet Management Challenges of the City

Prior to outsourcing the vehicle maintenance operation, fleet management staff faced challenges in the areas of safety, quality, and productivity. Daily operations were constantly in reactive mode and were having difficulty in performing regular routine preventive maintenance (PM). To compound the problem, the fleet was growing, but the fleet maintenance budget was not. Technicians were not trained on new technologies, vehicle turnaround time took several days, and rework was performed numerous times with no guarantee of an actual remedy.

Delivering Fleet Management Solutions through Public-Private Partnership

In 2001, the City of Fort Wayne partnered with First Vehicle Services—a leading North America provider of public sector fleet maintenance and fleet management services since 1981. As a result, they found a productive partnership that supported a common goal: maximum fleet safety, availability, and reliability for the City’s diverse vehicle and equipment fleet through a tailored PM program, trained technicians, leading technology, and best fleet practices.

Mr. Larry Campbell, City Fleet Manager, stated, “The trust our two organizations has built means I know our vehicles and equipment will be repaired right the first time. I don’t worry about putting out fires.” Since First Vehicle Services began working with the City, Mr. Campbell has seen this operation shift from reacting to daily problems to managing a highly-efficient, industry-certified, award-winning facility. He continued, “I can be proactive and concentrate on other things the Mayor and City Council would like to accomplish. This department has become a strategic part of the municipal organization.”

“At First Vehicle Services, our customized maintenance programs have a proven track record of helping customers reduce vehicle downtime, improve fleet safety, and lower overall operating costs,” stated Mr. David Jackson, First Vehicle Services General Manager at the Fort Wayne location. “And that’s just what we have been able to accomplish for the City of Fort Wayne.”

Industry-leading Quality Assurance Initiatives

First Vehicle Services has successfully achieved the prestigious ISO 9001 Certification in Fleet Management from the International Organization for Standardization (ISO)—recognizing First Vehicle Services’ programs, processes, and practices as the pinnacle of quality and process excellence. We have further enhanced the quality assurance efforts for Fort Wayne’s operation, achieving ISO 9001:2008 Certification for the shop. ISO 9001:2008 recognizes companies that continually demonstrate process improvements in quality and organizational excellence. Fort Wayne is among three First Vehicle Services’ locations with ISO 9001 Certification, with the other two including the Corporate Headquarters in Cincinnati (OH) and The City of San Clemente (CA) service center.

First Vehicle Services’ commitment to quality maintenance is underscored by the trademarked First Quality Management (FQM) program established for all First Vehicle Services’ service centers. FQM sets the standard for quality maintenance services, leveraging best fleet practices and Lean Six Sigma Principles targeting organizational efficiency and effectiveness.

Mr. Marty Bender, Fort Wayne Deputy Chief of Police, backs up Mr. Campbell’s story. He says, “I remember when an officer would take a car in five to six times before it was fixed, and every time, it was gone for two to three days. First Vehicle Services came in when the whole place was in turmoil, but they got it up and running fast and efficiently and we’ve never looked back.”

Comprehensive Technician Training

ASE Training and Certification of technicians is subsidized by First Vehicle Services so the City can realize the benefits of advances in technology. Well-trained technicians maintain the high fleet availability, low turn-around times, and an optimum technician-to-vehicle ratio—all of which have resulted in lower operating costs for Fort Wayne.

The Fort Wayne shop is an ASE Blue Seal of Excellence recognized facility - a prestigious status awarded by the National Institute for Automotive Excellence (ASE) only when at least 75 percent of the facility’s technicians are ASE-certified. At Fort Wayne, 100 percent of the technicians hold current ASE certifications.

World-class Safety Program

Safety was another concern that was addressed by First Vehicle Services. Mr. Jackson commented, “Safety is one of our core values. Every shift starts with a safety meeting and safety message. We like to get participation, and ask for feedback from every staff member. Safety training is conducted monthly as well.” Mr. Campbell added, “First Vehicle Services has a proven safety record. The safety program they brought to the City is far better, 100 percent better.”

This is indeed exemplified by the zero OSHA recordable injury record that First Vehicle Services has successfully held for the City’s fleet services operation since 2007. In addition, the facility has been awarded the OSHA Voluntary Protection Program (VPP) STAR status - in recognition of achieving the highest safety performance in the industry. VPP STAR status is reserved for an elite group of worksites that design exemplary safety and health programs, achieve injury and illness rates at or below the national average of their respective industries, and demonstrate their ability to control workplace hazards. VPP STAR-designated locations also include two additional First Vehicle Services’ service centers – The City of Jacksonville Beach (FL) and The Town of Mount Pleasant (SC).

Innovative Technology

As the Fort Wayne’s service partner since 2001, First Vehicle Services continually drives improvements in operational efficiencies and cost reductions with the latest, innovative technology matching Fort Wayne’s fleet and user requirements. Renewing the contract in 2015, First Vehicle Services introduced Paperless Shop technology for the Fort Wayne facility to improve technician productivity, increase shop communications, and reduce time spent on paperwork. The technicians are equipped with tablets to provide real-time, instant access to vehicle repair history, service manuals, and documentation of work orders. The City of Fort Wayne gave their praises of this new technology for the vehicle maintenance program.

“Our other core value is customer service,” stated Mr. Jackson. “We continually evaluate the customer’s evolving needs and find better ways of improving service performance through new technology. It’s a responsibility we take very seriously.”