This is Part Two of a two-part Interview with Rick Hilmer, County Fleet Manager for Prince George's County, MD Office of Central Services.
County fleet expert and Certified Automotive Fleet Manager (CAFM) Rick Hilmer has worked in county fleet management since 1994. The Prince George's County Fleet Management Division currently oversees 3,500 light vehicles, which include both public safety and public service vehicles. If you missed Part One of this series, which covered Fleet and Motor Pool Automation in a County Government Environment, read it here.
Part 2: Rolling out Multiple Motor Pools
Q: What factors contributed to the decision to create the second motor pool site at Largo?
A: We wanted a signature project to demonstrate fuel and emissions reductions in partnership with the Maryland Energy Administration. We wanted it to be a multi-disciplined approach that integrated fleet reduction, car sharing and electrification so we created a motor pool which consists of Plug-In Hybrid Electric vehicles shared by multiple agencies all of which are controlled by Agile Fleet Commander. We used county and state funds and have implemented a successful project which we believe can be replicated at other sites going forward.
Q: How would you describe the transition to managing multiple sites now that Largo has been open about a year?
A: The biggest concern was geography. We were opening a second site ten miles away from the original site but weren’t adding any additional staff to manage it. For the most part, we have been able to manage everything through Fleet Commander but do have a backup person trained who is physically closer to the new site and who is occasionally called on to respond to a problem there. The need for him to respond has been minimal.
Q: How has your vehicle utilization improved? Please include metrics if you can.
A: We basically removed 12 underutilized vehicles from the fleet and have been able to pool 31 users to share the 6 cars we put in the pool. We believe the envelope can be pushed a little further on these 6 cars as we have only had several occasions where all of the cars were out at the same time but have yet to turn down a request. If we are able to successfully add another agency to the pool, we‘ll reduce their owned fleet, add their employees and could add a vehicle or two back to the pool to match the increased demand. That’s the beauty of using the Fleet Commander system. You can track your usage and make adjustments based on data. Our first few months we were averaging 40 trips a month and now we’re up to 80. We have slowly added users as requested.
Q: Were you able to accomplish your goal of reducing the fleet by 12-20 vehicles? If so, how many did you reduce? Were you able to add back in PHEV vehicles? How has this contributed to your efficiencies?
A: We reduced by 12 to date. We are trying to bring in an additional agency but they have been reluctant to give up control of their vehicles. Their employees do look longingly at our 2016 C-Max Energi vehicles though. It’s just a matter of time. Ultimately, we think we could support as many as fifty users with as few as 8 or 9 cars properly and efficiently managed.
Q: How much money would you say you are saving annually by sharing vehicles?
A: The two using agencies currently enrolled are each saving $ 15,000 - $ 20,000 per year depending on the price of fuel. Fleet is saving on our end through reduced maintenance costs but it is harder to quantify with limited data. We do know however, that the new cars are much more efficient and have lower operating costs.
Q: What is the best thing the drivers like the about automated system?
A: The Grab and Go feature which allows them flexibility to get a vehicle and get on the road quickly if something comes up at the last minute and they can’t wait for the approval process. They were concerned about how complex it might be to check out a vehicle but it has turned out to be simple and quick.
If you are interested in hearing more about county government fleet automation, listen in on our upcoming live Podcast: County Government Fleet Success Story on May 11, 2016 at 2 p.m. Sign up now – limited slots available.