Below: Fleet technician Paul Williams, left, and Don Mihalevich, fleet administrator for Springfield, Mo., award personnel through a worker incentive program that gives cash awards for meeting productivity levels. Photo: Springfield Public Works. Right: Larimer County's fleet services (director Kim Nohava has instituted a rigorous preventive maintenance program, including oil sampling for heavy equipment. Photo: Larimer County, Colo.
Jim Burke, public works fleet manager public works fleet manager for Benton County, Ore., partners with multiple agencies to save costs on things like fuel and heavy equipment. Photo: Benton County Public Works
Oil Sampling

A rigorous PM program, including oil sampling for heavy equipment, helps Larimer County get the most value for its equipment dollar. Police cars go from 90,000 to 100.000 miles, with service intervals of 4000 miles, said Nohava. For tandem dump trucks, the service intervals are 5000 miles. "We settled on 5000 miles thanks to oil sampling," said Nohava. "We found that we can run longer than 4000, but 6000 miles is too long."

Close visual inspections can go a long ways toward preventing failures. Larimer County uses vehicle condition reports performed by operators daily. "We use those to find oil leaks, tail lights out, radiator leaks—whatever," said Nohava.

"Oil sampling for heavy equipment is well worth the expense," said Nohava. "When a landfill compactor is worth close to $500,000, it's worthwhile to do oil sampling. We do oil sampling every time we do a PM. We follow the manufacturer's recommended service intervals for heavy equipment."

Fleet management is a teamwork process. And obviously it takes a certain amount of money to pay the team, maintain the fleet, and replace pieces. Sometimes you need to fund growth, but the goal is to accomplish the job with a fairly steady flow of funds from year to year. The keys are to keep your people trained and motivated, provide good customer service, maintain the equipment, and get the capital replacement money you need.

Brown is a freelance writer in Des Plainer III.