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Eastman Chemical's Partnership Fine-Tunes Its Fleet

December 2008, by Shelley Mika - Also by this author

Fleet managers know how important vehicle availability is to their business. When vehicles are down, that means less productivity. That’s why an efficient fleet maintenance operation is integral to every business. However, sometimes businesses need to spend time on their own goals and leave fleet maintenance to a professional.

Eastman Chemical, located in Longview, Texas, partnered with a company whose business is fleet maintenance.

Outsourcing for a Good Cause

Eastman Chemical’s business is manufacturing chemicals, fibers, and plastics, including coatings, adhesives, and specialty plastics products. The company is a major supplier of cellulose acetate fibers and produces polyethylene terephthalate (PET) polymers for packaging, so while its vehicles are important, keeping them maintained is not its core competency. By partnering with First Vehicle Services (FVS), a provider of customized fleet maintenance and fleet management solutions, Eastman Chemical could return to concentrating on its own business goals, while FVS focused on improving its fleet efficiencies.

Shaun Groh from First Vehicle Services runs a maintenance check on an Eastman Chemical fleet vehicle.

Summing Up the Fleet

Eastman Chemical’s fleet consists of a wide variety of vehicles, including bulldozers, compactors, fire trucks, ambulances, light-, medium-, and heavy-duty trucks, heavy-, medium-, and light-duty forklifts, industrial compressors, backhoes, tractors, golf carts, electric pallet jacks, medium-duty cranes, equipment-like graders, dump trucks, and small and medium cranes used daily in the construction and maintenance of chemical plant facilities.

With a 507-unit fleet, many are support vehicles used for transportation or service purposes, while others are specific-use units critical to production and safety.

While many fleets might see them as special-use equipment, at Eastman these vehicles are in constant use. That means when a piece of equipment needs repairs or preventive maintenance, a quick turnaround is important.


Eastman Chemical and First Vehicle Services (FVS) staff members include: (l-r) Mike Maggard (FVS), Jim Hallman (Eastman), Dale McGaughey (Eastman), John Kocher (FVS), Bob O’Brien (Eastman), Tony Lee (FVS), Gary Bunger (FVS), Abear Patterson (FVS), Shaun Groh (FVS), and John Claassen (FVS).

Offering Help All the Way

After researching several firms, Eastman chose FVS to oversee its maintenance operations and identify ways to increase vehicle availability, whether preventive or critical. At Eastman, the maintenance technicians, general manager, and shop foreman are all employed by FVS, which includes salaries, benefits, and training. Additionally, FVS maintains parts and supplies, which allows it to control the levels of technical expertise and customer service in the maintenance shop. Using these factors as a starting point, FVS helped Eastman in two key areas: vehicle availability and preventive maintenance compliance.

As part of FirstGroup America, a large surface transportation company that employs 99,000 people in North America and is part of a $10 billion-plus company, FVS leverages its buying power to offer Eastman significant discounts on parts and other supplies. Access to a large volume of supplies also helps Eastman maintain an accurate service and repair parts inventory, ensuring maximum availability for common component failures. "Many of the types of equipment in the Eastman fleet demand quick turnaround on repairs with a minimum of downtime," said Bill Snowden, a former Eastman general manager, who was responsible for implementing many of the procedures now underway.

"We try to do that as seamlessly as possible. If we do our jobs right, our operation will remain transparent to the user," said Snowden.

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