The Car and Truck Fleet and Leasing Management Magazine

Telematics Case Study: Managing Public Works Vehicles

Baltimore County's fleet has installed telematics devices on 651 of its vehicles.

June 2013, by Shelley Mika

Logo via Baltimore County.
Logo via Baltimore County.

Founded in 1659, Baltimore County provides police, fire, emergency medical, trash and recycling collection, parks, senior centers, and other municipal services to its nearly 806,000 residents.

The Fleet: Baltimore County's fleet has installed telematics devices on 651 of its vehicles.

The Challenge: Baltimore County sought a way to better manage the Department of Public Works activities and automate its manual processes for tracking snow removal operations.

With winter approaching and snowfall beginning soon in the Baltimore area, the County needed a solution fast — and faced the challenge of implementing a solution in a limited amount of time.

The Solution: After evaluating several solutions, Baltimore County selected a web-based fleet tracking solution and a dispatching application it could implement quickly.

The Results: "We saw results quickly," said Chip Hiebler, Senior Project Manager for Baltimore County. "As an organization, we have virtually eliminated unauthorized vehicle use, while increasing our fleet's efficiency and decreasing fuel costs."

He continued, "We have also been able to optimize our routes for better service with routing functionality and the fleet dispatch application in each Agency where we've implemented."

Rob Stradling, CIO of Baltimore County, added, "The reporting functionality has been extremely beneficial. We use our idle report to reduce our fuel costs, but also to reduce our carbon emissions as well. Baltimore County is committed to being a green organization for our community."

Dana Walker, Project Portfolio Manager for Baltimore County, said the telematics solution has also improved safety. "Speed alerts allow us to manage and rectify any driver speeding issues, which is a tremendous benefit to us as we are self-insured," Walker said.

The County hopes to have telematics installed on 2,000 vehicles by the beginning of next year.

Eastern Municipal Water District (GF)

About: Located in drought-stricken Riverside County, Calif., Eastern Municipal Water District (EMWD) provides fresh and recycled water and wastewater services to a 555-square-mile area.

The Fleet: EMWD operates a 350-vehicle fleet.

The Challenge: Forced to establish mandatory water usage restrictions, EMWD needed to reduce operating and labor costs to make up for shrinking revenues from lower customer consumption.

According to Mark Iverson, EMWD Maintenance Director, one of the agency's initial goals was to make more efficient use of its fleet. "When the district extended the criteria for vehicle life from 10 years/200,000 miles to 12 years/250,000 miles, we began a study that covered all aspects of fleet management and efficiency," he noted.

The Solution: EMWD installed telematics devices on all 1996 or newer vehicles. In addition to the potential savings in operating costs, EMWD chose its telematics solution for the plug-and-play installation capability and 24/7 roadside assistance, which was included in the cost.

Because EMWD's telematics device connects to the engine's OBD-II, the organization can now remotely monitor engine diagnostics, fault codes, and emissions control system status. For example, EMWD staff receive an immediate alert when there is an engine problem, allowing them to proactively repair the vehicle before the problem worsens.

The Results: EMWD initially focused on drivers' habits such as speed and idle time, which have a huge impact on fuel usage. This simple measure has improved mpg, while reducing the risk of speed-related accidents.

Since supervisors can now log in and view a GPS-based map of vehicle locations, they can dispatch the vehicle closest to an emergency or other work not scheduled in advance. With more efficient vehicle usage, employees drove about 165,000 fewer miles, and fuel costs declined by about $79,000 (as compared to the previous year's data for the same period).

Improved routing has also resulted in less time behind the wheel, giving EMWD employees more time to focus on work-related tasks. The payoff has been a significant reduction in the backlog of work.

"The final result is a productivity savings valued at nearly $354,000 in the six months alone," Iverson said. "Less time driving means more productive time for employees. We've already recouped our one-time equipment and startup costs in three months. And the money we save in fuel and labor more than pays for our monthly subscription fee."

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