The Car and Truck Fleet and Leasing Management Magazine

Siemens Streamlines Vehicle Relocation

Once a tedious manual process involving faxes, telephone calls, and e-mails, moving Siemens fleet vehicles around the country to new assignments is now almost entirely automated, thanks to a Web-based management system.

February 2010, by Cindy Brauer - Also by this author

A Web-based vehicle relocation management program has transformed a tedious, intensively hands-on process into a simple, click-and-go operation, boosting productivity and saving critical time for Siemens Corp.'s busy fleet organization.

The Iselin, N.J.-based Siemens Corp. is the U.S. operating unit of Siemens AG, a global provider of electronics and electrical engineering for the industry, energy, and healthcare markets. With reported U.S. revenues of $21.3 billion, Siemens Corp. employees number more than 60,000.

Supporting 17 operating companies in the U.S., Canada, and Puerto Rico, the Siemens fleets comprise 16,000 units, including sedans, minivans, cargo vans, upfitted pickups, and medium- and heavy-duty trucks. Fleet vehicle relocations have been handled by Auto Driveaway (AD) for more than a decade.

Partners such as Auto Driveaway have helped fleet managers deal with the challenges they have faced in the last few years, said Jim McCarthy, director vehicle management services (VMS), Siemens Shared Services. Events such as mergers, acquisitions, consolidations, and reductions in force have challenged "even the most organized and structured minds" among professional fleet managers, McCarthy noted.

Auto Driveaway has "made this challenge and these tough situations much easier to manage and control," said McCarthy. "They understand the complexity of our business structure, they recognize our demanding expectations, and they do everything possible to make every move as seamless as possible for our Siemens' team and as painless as possible for our Siemens' drivers."

Siemens fleet account managers Dana Bussiere, Wendy Kupper, and Katie Buonacquista, and the entire VMS team handle more than 800 vehicle relocations annually. Nearly every new-hire, employee resignation or termination, and job reassignment requires transporting a vehicle or groups of vehicles, a process that includes arranging vehicle pickup, delivery and/or storage, and communicating with multiple parties.

In the past, each vehicle transport required several time-consuming manual "touches" - individual hands-on contact via faxes, phone calls, e-mail, confirmations, tracking, etc.

Today, however, Siemens' vehicle relocation program is almost entirely automated, supported by the enhanced AD Customer Module, a Web-based tool that streamlines the entire process.

Vehicle Moves Begin with One Click

Deeply entrenched in their respective fleet accounts, Bussiere, Kupper, and Buonacquista are inherently familiar with their clients needs and activities and often anticipate potential vehicle relocations based on  information from their internal corporate contacts.

Siemens fleet account managers (l-r) Katie Buonacquista, Dana Bussiere, and Wendy Kupper now access Auto Driveaways’ “one-stop-shop” Web site and click on one button to start a nearly fully automated vehicle relocation process.

"We're hands-on with our fleets," said Buonacquista. "With accountability for 16,000 units and 17 clients, managing vehicle assets, minimizing dormant vehicle inventory, and optimizing driver productivity are extremely important, and as such,  integral parts of what we do every day."

When a vehicle move is identified, the fleet account managers access Auto Driveaway's "one-stop shop" Web site and simply "click to start the move process," said Bussiere, an 11-year Siemens employee.

"When the Siemens/Auto Driveaway partnership began, Siemens was faxing orders and following up via telephone on all questions that result from moving hundreds of vehicles across the U.S.," said Scott Okun, Auto Driveaway national sales and marketing director.

"With multiple contact points involved in every relocation, including pickup and delivery points, fleet management teams, leasing company staff, and the driveaway company, there were numerous phone calls for scheduling and confirmations," Okun explained.

Enhancements Make 'Huge' Impact

"Over the years, we've transitioned from fax and phone requests" as the fleet group took advantage of refinements to the online AD Customer Module, said Bussiere.

"The enhancements AD continually has made to the Web site have been huge in their impact and value," said Kupper. "We can now set up a move in minutes, see vehicle status, and get automated alerts and reminders."
Previously a move was a "pretty time-consuming project; it is now a relatively simple, continuously refined process," Kupper added.

She noted specific improvements in its online customer program:

● Quotes now are instantly obtained online by entering zip codes and the type of vehicle to be moved.
● Vehicle status is tracked online.
● Condition reports and photos, previously faxed, are uploaded to the Web site. "You can check for valid registrations, returned fuel cards, the number of keys returned, and damage to the vehicle prior to moving," Kupper noted.
● Vehicle storage, delivery, and summary data is downloadable into Microsoft Excel spreadsheets.

The newest system enhancement, AD Notification, alerts fleets on "all notes and status changes on a vehicle-by-vehicle basis," said Okun. "Siemens places the order and sends and receives notes and automatic updates. Field people involved in the vehicle move can be notified of scheduled pickup and delivery status without the Siemens staff ever having to touch the phone."

According to Bussiere, the AD Notification tool provides fleet account managers access to detailed information, "spontaneously allowing us to work at our pace without depending on others for answers."

The enhancements "automate the entire aspect of the move. They allow our drivers to remain productive while waiting on delivery of their company vehicle," Bussiere added.

The AD system also offers a monthly "Balanced Scorecard," providing a "one-page snapshot of our fleet, with monthly costs, turnaround times, storage information, aggregate costs for first service or details, and more," Bussiere noted.

The 16,000-unit Siemens Corp. fleet includes (l-r) Ford Fusions, Dodge Grand Caravans, and Chevrolet Malibus, plus cargo vans and upfitted pickups and medium-duty trucks. Siemens fleet account managers annually handle more than 800 vehicle relocations exclusively through Auto Driveaway.

AD Open to Suggestions

In addition to "stepping up to the plate" to handle Siemens' vehicle transport needs, Auto Driveaway is "open to any suggestion we have. They take our suggestions for improvements, evaluate, and implement them when applicable," said Kupper. "For example, we wanted the billing broken out by Siemens company division and routed through our leasing company to allow automated allocation of move expenses to the proper cost centers. AD worked to make this happen."

The transport company is also "very good" providing follow-up notice if issues occur with a vehicle move. "For example, when they have trouble reaching an employee to pick up a vehicle," said Buonacquista. "They will also go out of their way to pick up a vehicle wherever and whenever we request. You can rely on them."

Bussiere summarized, "When you compare the cost of a rental vehicle and the service Auto Driveaway provides, the 4.55 average days to delivery goes a long way toward becoming financial relevant and strategically important."

According to Kupper, "With all of the challenges fleet managers face today, it is nice to have a reliable vendor with a simple, worry-free process that saves us time and effort - both invaluable resources in today's working environment."

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