Fleets online: Record building

March 1, 2013

Company: City of Hoboken, Hoboken, NJ

Operation: Midsized municipal fleet serving small but dense urban area

Problem: Located just across the Hudson River from its much larger neighbor New York City, Hoboken is home to 50,000 housed within its two square miles and served by a grid of only 48 streets. Once a lively industrial and waterfront working class city famous for its rough and tumble atmosphere (not to mention its role as the birthplace of both baseball and Frank Sinatra), today it’s largely an upscale residential community with excellent ferry and train service to Manhattan.

As part of a reorganization, Joe Bucino, head of the city’s Division of Streets and Roads, was asked last summer to take on management of its 151-vehicle municipal fleet. A collection of police cars, fire emergency vehicles, and public works trucks, the fleet had been run without any real centralized management or recordkeeping.

Without formal preventive maintenance procedures, work was done on an “as needed basis,” says Bucino. Any records were handwritten and filed away in drawers. “If you wanted to see when the last PM was done on a vehicle, you had to wade through piles of paper to find out,” he recalls. So one of Bucino’s first initiatives as fleet manager was to find a software system that would allow him to establish a formal preventive maintenance program

Solution: After researching a number of options, Bucino settled on Dossier, a software program focused on all aspects of fleet maintenance. It not only seemed to provide the tracking and recordkeeping features he was looking for, but it had the added benefit of coming from a New Jersey-based developer, Arsenault Associates of Burlington.

The program “gives us the information we need,” Bucino says. “It’s helping us establish a preventive maintenance program. And now we have better records and tracking of our vehicles. It will also be good for budgeting purposes.” It only took a few months to get the Dossier software system up and running.

“They provided us with three days of training and back it up with 24-hr. support,” says Maricela Rivera, Hoboken’s fleet manager. “Dossier tells us when inspections and registrations are due,” Rivera adds. “We can print out all the work done on a specific vehicle, including cost breakdowns. We weren’t able to do that before.”

The system’s recordkeeping starts with written work orders from the fleet’s three mechanics. The fleet’s office staff inputs the information, which then feeds scheduling, cost tracking, parts inventory, and all the other data management functions required to run a shop cost-effectively.

While basic PM and smaller repairs are done in-house, Hoboken relies on outsourced providers for major repairs. “We just input their work orders into the system” to keep records up to date and accurate, says Bucino.

With the program up and running for just a month, it’s too early to begin serious analysis of the maintenance data being captured. “We expect to begin seeing trends in the data a few months down the road,” Bucino says. The fleet will be looking at not only total costs, but also breakdowns by department and even by individual vehicles.

“The next step is to take pictures of each vehicle and put them in the system,” Bucino says, pointing to Dossier’s ability to attach photographs and documents in common digital formats to files and work orders, a capability particularly useful for tracking physical damage and repairs. Even at this early stage of implementation, Bucino is confident that he’s well on his way to achieving his initial goal—an effective preventive maintenance program for Hoboken’s municipal fleet.

About the Author

Jim Mele

Nationally recognized journalist, author and editor, Jim Mele joined Fleet Owner in 1986 with over a dozen years’ experience covering transportation as a newspaper reporter and magazine staff writer. Fleet Owner Magazine has won over 45 national editorial awards since his appointment as editor-in-chief in 1999.

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