The still-struggling economy presents opportunities for fleet managers to think "out-of-the-box" and come up with new, innovative ways to challenge the age-old idiom, "But it's always been done that way."
The NAFA Fleet Management Association/Bell Canada 2010 Larry Goill Memorial Quality Fleet Management Idea Award is presented annually at NAFA's Institute & Expo. The award is given to fleet managers whose innovative ideas improved productivity or resulted in bottom-line savings for their employers. One of this year's winners, Bob Adamsky, fleet manager for Del-Air Heating and Air Conditioning, increased fleet fuel mileage by 10 percent, lowered fleet emissions, and enhanced driver safety by limiting vehicle top speeds - all accomplished in 10 minutes through reprogramming Del-Air vehicle electronic control modules.
Trying New Solutions
According to Adamsky, this project was the result of trying to find better fuel management methods after most of the common "textbook" solutions were tried.
"In an effort to reduce our fuel cost and increase safety, we teamed up with SCT Fleet Solutions and reprogrammed the powertrain control module (PCM) on some test trucks of the same year, make, and model to see what mpg could be gained by setting a top mph and reducing idle rpm," explained Adamsky. "After some promising results, we continued some further, more detailed testing along with custom tuning. The results were showing gains above the projected 8 percent; in some cases above 10-11 percent."
An added benefit came from dramatically reduced speeding complaints. Del-Air also reduced the number of rear accidents.
After rolling out a large number of trucks of different years and locations, Adamsky was able to show solid, sustained gains compared to trucks still in the stock factory program.
Realizing the Benefits
According to NAFA, the greatest benefit of Adamsky's idea is that it eliminates fluctuations that occur between vehicle models and drivers.
For example, if 20 drivers are using the same vehicle model, most likely 20 different fuel mileages will be reported. By transferring performance accountability from the driver to the vehicle, Adamsky gained more control and was able to make changes that benefitted not only his company, but drivers and the environment as well.
According to Adamsky, Del-Air has continued to put more trucks on the program as vehicles are added.
"These are the projects all fleet managers should be trying instead of simply saying reduce, cut, etc.," said Adamsky. "These are some of the best times to be a fleet manager. When times are tight, we get the chance to explore and find better ways outside the box."
Awards Named After NAFA Member
The NAFA/Bell Canada Larry Goill Memorial Quality Fleet Management Idea Award was named after Larry Goill, an active member of NAFA in the late '80s and early '90s. At the time of his passing in 1995, Goill was NAFA's vice president for Canada and the supervising engineer of Fleet Services for Bell Canada. The awards were sponsored by Bell Canada in appreciation for his contributions to the company's commitment to quality.