City of Glendora
John Menke, street and equipment supervisor
Like many municipal fleets, the city of Glendora's is a mixed bag, including everything from police cars to street sweepers. As the newly hired fleet supervisor, John Menke was curious about new technology for remote vehicle tracking, suspecting that it might make both economic and operational sense for a number of the 150 vehicles now his responsibility.
“I'd been a police dispatcher at one time, and I know that you might get a call from an officer needing assistance,” says Menke. “If you lose radio contact, you might not know were the officer is if you can't reestablish contact.”
Downtime lost to minor maintenance items and emissions-control inspections required by California were also a concern. And finally, driver accountability was a thorny problem if there were citizen complaints about city workers.
Despite the value he saw in remote tracking, though, Menke wasn't sure he could fit an effective system into his budget.
When Networkcar approached Menke early last year with its GPS-based Networkfleet system, it seemed a good fit for a number of reasons. The hardware worked with any vehicle equipped with OBDII emissions controls and provided not only location, but also full operational and diagnostic information gathered in real-time by the OBDII sensors and control unit. Using a Web-based hosted application that could be accessed anywhere with an Internet browser, it provided updates every three minutes to city managers.
Better still, the system allows the city to remotely monitor each vehicle's smog control devices, alerting the shop if there is a problem with both a fault code and an explanation of that code. Under California law, such ongoing monitoring exempts vehicles from the physical bi-annual smog inspections, eliminating the $60 to $70 cost and downtime for such a check.
Cost was in line with budget restraints, too, Menke says. “Each unit is $500. We install them ourselves in about 45 minutes. Monthly charges are $15 a month.”
The fleet started with a five-vehicle pilot program last March — three police cars, one meter reader vehicle and a street-repair truck. Since then, the fleet has expanded the program to 46 vehicles. including street sweepers and minibuses, and the budget includes funds to add more fleet this year as well.
While hard dollar ROI comes from eliminating the smog checks and unnecessary trips to the shop, the tracking system is also providing a number of less tangible, but still important benefits, says Menke.
“If there's an emergency situation, all we have to do is look at who is closest to the scene [and] dispatch that vehicle,” he says. “We get complaints about street sweepers going too fast or missing streets. Since they operate from 2 a.m. to 9 a.m. and I don't start work until 8 a.m., I can tell exactly where those sweepers went the previous night and how fast they were going if we do get a complaint”