Fluid Management streamlines operations for fleet service center
When the city of Beverly Hills, California, built a new fleet service center in 2008, city officials wanted a state-of-the-art facility that included a fluid management system to capture accurate and useful data. This data includes type of fluid dispensed, amount dispensed, repair order to capture product usage, bulk fluid storage quantity on hand, and technician ID number used when dispensed.
Previously, the city did what some fleet maintenance facilities still do today – roll a cart with a 55-gallon drum next to the vehicle being serviced and pump out the required oil. Technicians, when they remembered, would write down how much fluid they used on a job, loosely tracking fluid usage.
City officials had heard about the Graco Fluid Management System, and they were very interested. When several officials visited a local BMW dealership that used the system, they weren’t disappointed.
“It looked good. All the fluids were routed into overhead hose reels that dispensed to each bay,” said Craig Crowder, fleet and central stores manager. “Choosing the Graco fluid management system was a no brainer. It was the only system that offered wireless capability. We didn’t want a bunch of wires running around the shop back to a PC.”
The fluid management system provides state-of-the-art automated tracking and dispense monitoring for complete control of fluids, including antifreeze, motor oil and gear oil.
System components include management software, transceiver, meters, pump air control and tank level monitor. These components communicate wirelessly to transmit dispense and fluid inventory levels.
Wireless sensors on each bulk storage tank automatically send fluid-level data to a PC, so Crowder and his staff are always up to date on inventory and never run out of fluids. At the City of Beverly Hills, technicians punch a repair order into the meter and fluid dispensed is reported, allowing it to be charged to the correct job. If there is interest in tracking oil dispenses to a technician, PIN numbers can also be used for an additional layer of security.
“We’re really happy with the Graco fluid management system – we saw the benefits immediately,” said Crowder. “In the larger scheme of building a resource-efficient facility that earned a Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) Silver rating, the system didn’t cost much. It probably paid for itself in the first year. If you try to manually keep track and you don’t charge out five or six barrels of fluid, there’s the cost right there.”
Crowder, a 23-year fleet veteran, also appreciates Graco’s highly knowledgeable customer service staff. They know the answers to his questions or quickly find answers and share the information. “Product support speaks volumes. How great is your product if you don’t support it?” added Crowder.
After installing the Graco fluid management system, Crowder immediately saw technician efficiency increase compared to the previous system. He believes his technicians save an hour of labor on simple jobs. With 300 pieces of city-owned rolling stock to maintain and repair, the time savings are a huge benefit.
By transitioning from 55-gallon drum dispensing to bulk fluid dispensing, time was saved by eliminating the need to:
• Roll products around the facility in drums.
• Clean product drums during and after each use.
• Find product drum storage in work bays.
In addition, the Graco fluid management system provided additional time savings due to the:
• Location of products overhead.
• Organization of products at workstations.
• Accurate tracking of fluid quantity used.
• Ease of tracking bulk fluid quantities.
• Streamlined ordering and delivery of bulk fluid.
His technicians really like the Graco fluid management system because it’s cleaner and makes their job easier. Equipment downtime is reduced, availability has increased, efficiency is greater – and city officials have noticed.
“Now that we have fluid management nailed down, we can take time to be sure city vehicles are clean and in good operating order,” Crowder said. “I don’t think you would build a maintenance facility today without a fluid management system. You’d be remiss in your duties.”
Crowder also likes that city hall officials know his group is being efficient and not frivolously spending money. The Graco system improves workflow and shop cleanliness, and helps support his fluid budget request.
“Before the Graco system was installed, we had oil drums sitting around in various locations and the shop looked cluttered,” said Crowder. “Now that our fluids are delivered from bulk storage through overhead hose reels, the shop is less cluttered, stays cleaner and it’s easier for us to run the floor scrubbers after each job. City employees – our customers – as well as the executive staff, see a clean, organized service center and that instills confidence in our ability to maintain our equipment.”