If someone told you that he'd been able to reduce mileage in 180 of his vehicles by one-third, cut repair costs, and maintain vehicles in better condition, you think you might sit up and pay attention?
Genesee Country, (Flint) Michigan has been able to do just that by establishing a Motor Pool facility and an automated system to repot the information it generates. These important benefits are augmented by more efficient control and the fact that the vehicles bring better prices at auction time because of improved condition.
The Motor Pool is responsible for 180 vehicles in the Genesee County fleet. Over 80-percent of the vehicles are automobiles (about 10-percent are patrol cars of the Sheriff's office), and about 20-percent are light trucks for maintenance, the dog-catching department and prisoner transportation. About 22,000 miles a year are recorded on the average pool car (car not assigned to an individual). Those that are assigned run up 8000 miles a year, and the light trucks cover 15,000 miles in a year. The trucks are responsible for maintenance, the dog-catching department, and prisoner transportation.
There are other advantages, primarily administrative, resulting from the new system and the County's present control over the use and maintenance of its vehicles. They can charge departments for usage on an accurate and equitable basis; they can schedule regular preventive maintenance checks and they have better utilization of the vehicles under our jurisdiction.
When the Genesee County Board of Commissioners authorized the Motor Pool Administration, it was realized that an effective control system would be the key to efficient operation. We checked out several and selected one incorporating the use of Source Record Punch (SRP) data collection terminals and specially designed Zipcard forms, both from The Standard Register Company. This data collection system works in close conjunction with the data processing facilities and computer operations.
The Motor Pool was brought into existence a little over two years ago. Up to that time, county-owned vehicles had been assigned to individuals who were free to drive them between home and office or workplace as necessary and, since they were assigned, no others could use them without authorization from the assigned driver. There was no maintenance schedule... cars were repaired as needed by private vendors, Gasoline, oil, lubricating and washing were done at our own garage by prison trustees and charges were recorded on scraps of paper by prison trustees and charges were recorded on scraps of paper without any system and no way of tracing them to specific departments. It wasn't too hard to demonstrate to the Commissioners through cost analysis that there were savings to be obtained from a control system in this area.
10 Problem Areas Corrected By New System:
- Final reports issued too late.
- Final reports too restricted.
- Raw and finished data not easily sorted and these were reported in a variety of formats.
- Too much clerical time needed to extract data for reports.
- No proper labor distribution.
- No means of scheduling preventive maintenance.
- No easy way to determine age of critical parts on vehicles.
- No way to rate vehicle and parts performances.
- No easy way to determine usage of "spare" vehicles and reasons for use.
- No action information for people who needed it.
Motor Pool Organization
The first step in organizing a Motor Pool was to install a repair shop along with the already existent gas and oil ????. Two mechanics and a pump operator were brought in to run the shop. Shortly after the Pool was started, the control system was installed. Each vehicle is identified by a plastic master tab card punched with its number in Hollerith code. This is kept filed in the gas station repair shop's office. Each authorized user of a vehicle is provided with a plastic badge punched (Hollerith code) with an identifying six-digit number assigned by the Motor Pool. In the repair shop's office, there is a badge-reading "Source Record Punch" unit and supplies of three types of Zipcard forms-Trip Tickets, Commodity Cards and Labor Cards.
To obtain a car, the driver brings his identification badge to the Motor Pool station and fills in (by hand) a four-part Trip Ticket Zipcard form having three paper copies and one tab card. This calls for the entry of the vehicle number, present mileage, time out, destination or use and the driver's signature. The first two items are obtained from a copy of the previous transaction's Zipcard form that is kept in the file rack behind the master card.
The Motor Pool foreman then places the driver's badge, the vehicle's master tab card and the Zipcard form in the Source Record Punch unit located on the counter. He enters the mileage out on the machine's keyboard, then activates the unit. This action transfers the information from the various sources into the Zipcard form in both punched code and printed characters-badge number, vehicle number and mileage out. Date and the SRP location code come automatically from the machine's internal slide switch settings. The form is then filed behind the vehicle's mast card in the rack.
When a car is retuned, the driver fills in the mileage-in and time-in information and indicates if the car is in OK condition or is damaged. A blank badge, a blank vehicle master and the related Trip Ticket are placed in the SRP unit and the mileage-in information is keyed in for transfer to the Trip Ticket. If the car is returned a day or more later, then the automatic date entry is prevented through use of a mode switch and the number of days is keyed in.
The foreman then separates the form retaining one copy for his daily recap, giving one copy to the driver, filing another copy with the master card for the next use of that vehicle and sending the tab card copy to Data Processing for use in the preparation of vehicle usage reports. The driver's copy serves as a receipt and also gives the department to be charged a means of checking against the month's billing charges.
All other vehicle transactions call for the use of Commodity Card forms and, when shop work is involved, Labor Card forms. The Commodity Card is a three-part Zipcard form and the Labor Card has two parts, Each includes a tab card copy.
When a car has gas or oil added, the attendant handwrites the basic information on the three-part Commodity Card form-vehicle number, mileage and the quantities issued. As soon as possible, this information will be punched into the form using the SRP is the Motor Pool office. To do this, the operator removes the middle copy of the Commodity Card form and uses it as a reference after inserting the remainder of the form and the vehicle's master card in the machine. The vehicle number comes from the master card and the date and location come from the internal slide switch settings. Mileage, part (gas or oil code) and quantity are entered via the keyboard in two machine cycles of six digits or less each.
The master is refilled and the reference copy is destroyed. The original is retained by the foreman for his daily activity review while the card copy goes to Data Processing for computer file input.
The Commodity Card form is similarly used whenever parts are required for repair work. The form is do designed as to allow for the entry of information relative to three parts through the three remaining cycles after the entry of mileage data. Part code and quantity entries are assigned three digits each.
Another use for this form is recording the replacement of parts in inventory. When a part is replaced in stock, a blank master card and blank badges are placed in the SRP unit with the Commodity Zipcard form. Part number and quantity are entered via the keyboard and the date comes from the internal slide switch settings. The disposition of the form copies is the same.
Six Different Transactions
The labor Card form is designed to record information covering, at present, six different types of transactions. These have been coded with two digits each and include Vehicle Repair, Scheduled Work, Road Work, Non-Fleet Vehicle Work, Outside Repair and Non-Scheduled Work. A second two-digit code will give a Specific Category, such as ignition, carburetor brakes, etc., giving us up to 99 subdivisions of major activity.
When a vehicle is to be repaired in the garage, the foreman handwrites on a Labor Zipcard form the transaction type of repair and the specific category. The assigned mechanic then enter, by hand, the vehicle code and mileage information. If parts are needed, a Commodity Zipcard form will also be initiated. After repairs have been made, the mechanic enters the total on the job and his signature.
The SRP punching operation can be done immediately or whenever there is time. Either the foreman or the mechanic can handle this. The vehicle's master card is pulled top copy of the Zipcad form is removed and used as a reference before it is put into the machine. Using the keyboard, the operator enters the car's mileage, the transaction code.
The SRP punching operation can be done immediately or whenever there is time. Either the foreman or the mechanic can handle this. The vehicle's master card is pulled and placed in the machine along with a blank badge. The top copy of the Zipcard form is removed and used as a reference before it is put into the machine. Using the keyboard, the operator enters the car's mileage, the transaction code with specific category code, the mechanic's identifying number and the elapsed time on the job. Activation of the SRP transfers all data-form vehicle master card, internal slides and keyboard-into the Labor Zipcard form in both punched code and printed characters. Again the card copy to Data Processing while the paper copy is retained by the foreman for daily activity review.
Data processing maintains a master history for every fleet vehicle and each week the Motor Pool receives a report advising which vehicles require work on the basis of mileage. The garage operation is similar to that for straight repair work except that the transaction code will be difference.
Road work repairs are also handled in much the same way. The transaction code and the location of the repairs made being the only differences. The Labor and, if needed, Commodity Zipcard forms are filled out by hand at the time of the repairs and then machine-processed later.
Non-Fleet Vehicle Work is performed by Motor Pool personnel on those vehicles that are not under the Pool's permanent control. One Vehicle Master Card is used for al vehicles coming under this classification and its number 9999, flags the computer to make a special charge record on it. No mileage information is recorded for these, but the date, transaction code, mechanic's number and elapsed time for cost purposes is recorded.
If repair work requires the services of an outside vendor, again the Labor Zipcard form is used. For these occurrences, basic information is obtained from the vendor's invoice and the vehicle code, date, mileage, transaction code and cost or vendor charges is also recorded. Finally, Non-Scheduled Repair Work is handled in the same way we treat straight Vehicle Repairs.
In the course of a month between 2500 and 3000 Zipcard forms are processed, and of these, between 600 and 700 are Trip Tickets. The rest are Labor and Commodity cards. Every week, Data Processing provides the Motor Pool with an audit of every transaction for each vehicle in fleet as well as the above-mentioned Scheduled Repair listing. The Pool also receives an inventory Status Report concerning parts used and stock quantities.
Each month the Pool also receives a report based on the Trip Tickets processed. This is used for vehicle billing purposes so the Pool can charge back to each department for vehicle usage. This report indicates miles driven, receipt number and charges, and it is keyed to employee and vehicle number sand done by department. There is a minimum charge of #5 a day, $100 a month or 12¢ a mile, whichever is the largest. This report is in quadruplicate with copies for Purchasing, Motor Pool, Controller and Billing Departments.
Vehicle Performance Report
One of the most valuable reports is that which enables the Motor Pool to check and compare vehicle performances. This is a Cost-Per-Mile report and is available on request. From it you can determine maintenance costs from repairs made, operating costs from gas used, depreciation and yearly insurance rates. These four items are totaled and divided by miles driven to give you an analysis of performance. With it you can compare the performances of similar vehicles and rid yourself fast of those that are uneconomical to operate. Normally, the County trades vehicles on a two-year basis (Sheriff's Department does it annually). The report becomes more meaningful as you bring new cars into the system.
Summing up the reporting the Pool has detailed histories and operating cost of each fleet vehicle, overall fleet costs, complete labor distribution of all fleet personnel, usage of spare vehicles, performance ratings of vehicles and critical components, scheduled maintenance work, indications of which vehicles are significantly above or below established normal values, complete parts inventory control and vehicle costs by department for budget purposes.
Probably the greatest advantage of the new system is in the control you now have over fleet vehicles. They receive better care through a regular maintenance program and they are driven fewer miles, one-third less on the average because of the Motor Pool arrangement that eliminates home-to-work mileage. That means that, according to a Motor Pool estimate, county business accounts for 99-percent of the mileage now driven.
Another advantage is that despite an increase of about 20-percent in county office personnel, the Motor Pool has not had to add any vehicles, indicating that the Country are getting more efficient use of each vehicle in the system. Finally, unless there are unusual conditions prevalent, there is always a vehicle available for somebody. On those rare occasions when there isn't the employee may use his own car and receive adequate reimbursement, but this is very infrequent.
A "Smooth Operation"
The system provides the County with the control it needs and this makes it easy for Data Processing to handle the information. Because all the information is presented to them in punched card form, there is no manual keypunching necessary, thereby saving time and expensive labor. The data is ready for computer input as soon as it is received. All in all, a smooth operation from beginning to end.