Fleet Answers Webinar (Text Version)
This is a text version of the video for the Fleet Answers webinar presented on March 15, 2011, by Brooke Rymer, Fleet Answers.
COORDINATOR: Welcome and thank you for standing by. At this time, all participants are on a listen-only mode. During the question-and-answer session, please press star one on your touch-tone telephone. You will be prompted to record your name in order to be introduced. Today's conference is being recorded. If you have objections, you may disconnect at this time. Now, I would like to turn the call over to Sandra Loi. Ma'am, you may begin.
SANDRA LOI: Thank you, thank you, everyone, for joining us today. Good morning, good afternoon. Today we are going to be talking about Fleet Answers. I know Andrew has sent out a note about giving a little bit of background on what this is. And we have Chris Shaffer; he's a partner and developer of both Fleet Answers and Utilimarc.
Fleet Answers is an online networking tool that allows individual fleet professionals and fleet associations to connect, share, and learn from one another in a secure environment. And Utilimarc is the official benchmarking partner for Fleet Answers.
Chris Shaffer is going to walk you through a live demo of both of these online communities and databases and kind of talk with you about how you can use it in your work as Clean Cities coordinators. So Chris, I'm going to go ahead and pass it on to you. You may begin.
CHRIS SHAFFER: Great, thanks, Sandra—really appreciate the opportunity, and thank you, everyone, for joining here. I'll start with Fleet Answers. And this came about 18 months ago because in all of the consulting work and benchmarking work we do, we noticed that all of the fleet professionals that we deal with seemed to be struggling with the same questions.
Everybody, you know, has the same challenges, the same questions, and unfortunately, a lot of these fleet professionals really manage in a silo. And Fleet Answers was our attempt to really provide them a platform where they could, in a very secure environment, share and connect with one another. And we think it would be a great partnership with Clean Cities program. And so I'll go ahead and show you how this works.
First of all, you have to request to join, and so it is not automatic. So you must submit who you are and what fleet you manage, and we check that before we add anybody to the system. It is password protected, so once you've been granted access, you will be given a password. And you have the ability to log in. And this is kind of the log-in screen; this is the landing page. And I just kind of want to walk you through some of the features in Fleet Answers. I think the biggest one is the community, and I'm going to start by the ability to search for contacts. So I'm going to go ahead and open that up.
And what we've done is, we've really put all the 1,500 professionals that are in Fleet Answers right now, we've put them in there with some very detailed profiles so that you can find that professional you're really trying to connect with. So if you know somebody's name, you can type that in and do a search. If you know the name of their company, you can type that in and do a search.
If you wanted to do a search just for all of the fleets in California, you could do that. We've got fleets segmented by type; so if it's a city fleet, a state fleet, maybe it's a utility fleet, maybe it's a tree-trimming fleet. So we've really opened this up to all of the fleets out there. So this is not just isolated to municipal fleets. This really is opened to every fleet, over-the-road trucking, everything that's out there at this point.
So we're trying to give you lots of different ways to find that person. Maybe you're trying to find somebody who has a specific expertise in something. So maybe you're trying to find somebody who might be an alternative fuel expert. You'd be able to click that and search.
Maybe you're trying to find somebody with a specific job function. Maybe you're trying to find a fleet executive, or maybe a supervisor. Maybe you're trying to find anybody in safety, technical, mechanics. So again, we're trying to give you the ability to really get on a pretty granular and who you're trying to find.
And then we've also established groups. Now, I think this is one of the things we think there's a great opportunity to establish a Clean Cities group. So we have CalStart. We have California County Fleet Managers. We have, you know, anything from the fleet system that they're using, to the Minnesota Buyers Group, to NASA. So again, we give, you know, we're not trying to exclude anybody or any group, and we think it'd be beneficial to have a Clean Cities group where they could tag themselves as a member.
So I want to just kind of pick a couple of things. I'm going to pick a city fleet, and let's go in and find California. And so, what we'll do is, we'll do a search for city fleets in the State of California. And what it does now is it pulls up a list of those folks that fit that criteria.
So you have Richards Battersby, University of California-Davis, Chris Burleson here, Fleet Managers City of Napa. And so you get to start to see those people that fit that criteria. Well, let's say we're trying to find this gentlemen right here. So we can open up him, and what that does is take us to his profile.
So we start to learn that he's with the City of Napa. He's in fleet management. There's 305 pieces of equipment, and it breaks down the types of equipment that he has in his fleet. It talks about whether he leases or owns those. And then it talks about the purchases that this individual is responsible for. It shares a little bit about how they maintain their fleet, whether they do it in-house or vend it out, and then it talks about those areas of expertise.
So if we would have chosen, you know, somebody looking for somebody who's an expert in pool or rental or parts inventory, this gentlemen would have came up. And here is the two tags that he's tagged himself with. He uses the Fleet Anywhere fleet information system and he is a member of Napa. And if he was a Clean Cities participant, we could have a Clean Cities tag that would identify him as a Clean Cities member, okay.
So, once you're in and you have found that person you're trying to connect with; you have the ability to message him. And just by clicking message, you're able to send him an email that travels securely through Fleet Answers. It does not go on business email. What he would receive in his business email is just a ping that says he has a new message in Fleet Answers. He would then need to be able to log in to view that.
One of the things we're finding that's very beneficial is allowing groups of people to connect. So, as you can see, we could easily create a Clean Cities group, and anybody in Fleet Answers could send a message to all of the Clean Cities folks that are also members in Fleet Answers. And that has seemed to work really well, allowing groups and organizations to be able to communicate with each other inside Fleet Answers, okay.
So, that's kind of the starting point of what we built—was the ability to really search and find other folks, other fleet professionals out there, that meet those certain criteria that you're trying to identify.
The next thing that we've built that seems to be working really well is the forum. And again, this is secure. So there is no vendors in Fleet Answers. So there is no way a vendor is participating in the forum. There is no way a vendor has access to the information, and is communicating with anybody in Fleet Answers. And so it is a little unique, in the sense that it's secured-only fleet professionals out there.
So in the forum we have lots of categories identified. We did start a grant funding and writing category, and so that is a forum topic that you'd be able to click on that and you would be able to open up, you know, grant fundamentals. And then, if you wanted to read, or post, or comment, or attach anything about grant writing and those types of things, this would be a great opportunity for both the coordinator and a fleet professional to participate.So, we envision allowing the coordinators to have access to Fleet Answers. It's a little outside of what we would normally do, but it seems like it'd be a great resource for some of our fleet professionals.
So again, we have lots of forum activity going on. This has been very successful, whether it has to deal with vehicles and equipment, whether it has to deal with fuel, you know, we're talking analytics. And then, we have a whole section down here on alternative fueled vehicles and green fleet, okay.
So again, we're trying to establish a place where people can go and communicate, and get those questions and answers. And so here's an alternative fuel and vehicle strategy, and you'd be able to read what, you know, Wayne Farley of the American Electric Power wrote there.
So, heading back to the homepage, we kind of touched a little bit on the community side. The next thing I would like to touch on over here is the policies and procedures, because this has been another area that people are really finding value in. What we're trying to do is really warehouse and house different policies and procedures.
So, if you have somebody that needs a, you know, take-home vehicle policy, or maybe there's an idle reduction policy, or they're looking at maintenance policies, we're trying to now have a spot where they can share these types of policies. And so, if you're looking for an idling policy, you would be able to download this idling policy. It is an actual policy that a city has provided us.
We've stripped it clean of all of their naming conventions, so it is something that you can take, you can download it, you can copy it, you can amend it. You can use it to really create your own policy without having to, kind of, reinvent the wheel. And so this would be a great opportunity to maybe post some of your materials that you would like to share, or some of the policies that some of your Clean Cities folks have implemented, okay.
Let me walk through a couple more things and then I'll move on to the Utilimarc side. And again, I will leave this site open, so when we open it to Q and A, I'll be able to reference it and bring it back up for you. We do lots of case studies, and so, if there's specific things that need to be researched; we just had a request for green garages. We've had some fleets that are really looking at greening their garage. And so, we went out and did a case study on green garages.
We have a writer on staff that interviewed and spent time identifying three fleets in the country that have done a fantastic job of greening their garage. And so, he went out, spent time, interviewed them, and really laid into the document, you know, specifics about a fleet.
So, Nicor Gas is in Chicago. Jeff Price is the manager there, and has done a wonderful job in incorporating green technology into a new facility they just built. He's also a member of Fleet Answers. So, not only can you learn about what they did, you have the ability to actually reach out to him through Fleet Answers, and enter into that discussion and learn more if you have interest there.
So, that's kind of a, in a real brief nutshell, the power of Fleet Answers. It really allows fleet professionals to have a common area to, you know, enter in those forum discussions; really search for that specific individual they're trying to find. We can do all kinds of industry research. There's all kinds of case studies. There's specific examples of policies and procedures that fleet professionals need on a daily basis.
And the way we include the vendors is through this: Ask the Expert. So, not only can you reach out to the fleet professional, but you also have the ability to reach out to the industry experts. And so, if you had a question about, you know, clean technology, you could reach out to CalStart. Maybe we should have a Clean Cities expert here, so that if somebody has some specific questions that were, you know, the expert of the Clean Cities group, this might be a great opportunity for our clients to reach out to you guys through this.
The other is, you know—Dale Kokum is an actual battery manufacturer. And so, if you have a question, you can send that anonymously to our experts, and then that Q and A is posted here for everybody to find, okay.
So, that's kind of what Fleet Answers is. It is evolving as we go. We have about 1,500 professionals in here right now from all verticals of fleet. Our main groups are cities, counties, and states, and utilities at this point. And so those would be the two main groups of professionals that are in Fleet Answers.
I'm just going to shift gears here for a little bit, and I'm going to move away from Fleet Answers, and kind of move over to Utilimarc. Both companies are owned here in Minneapolis; they're both in the same office. So Fleet Answers, again, is about 18 months old, and is really trying to be on that cutting edge of allowing fleet professionals to connect.
The business that we started with is Utilimarc, and that one's been around for about ten years now. And this is really a fairly sophisticated, online, data gathering, benchmarking, analytics tool. And so I just want to share this with you a little bit.
One of the new verticals for us is we are moving into that municipal market, and so we are starting to work with states, with cities, and with counties, in capturing all of their vehicle information. And so, we spend a lot of time getting all of the financial data. And this is really important, because it's going to allow us to do some pretty amazing analysis down the road. But we're capturing all of the financials.
So, we're capturing all of their ownership cost. We're capturing all of their operating costs, with fuel, all of the, you know, the repair cost, the vendor cost, the parts cost. And we're capturing all of the support cost also, and that's very important.
So, this is at a vehicle or unit-specific level. And we're capturing this down to very specific fleet classes. And so, if you wanted to look at a compact car, a mid-sized car, a full-sized car, if you want to look at, you know, a pursuit-rated squad car, or a van, or a refuse truck, what we specialize in is really taking that cost and the analytics down to that vehicle class level. And I think I'll show you some queries here that kind of show you what we can do with it.
So, we really give them the ability to query the database. And, I'm going to choose a query that I think will be of interest to you guys. So, we're going to stay at the City of Philadelphia rollup. Now, we've given the city the ability to break their fleet into many different, you know, districts or regions, here.
Okay, but what I'm going to do is—I'm going to rollup the entire City of Philadelphia, and I'm going to come down here, and I'm going to pick a specific class of equipment. And, I'm going to pick a compact car. And the reason I am is because what I want to compare is a regularly fueled compact car to a gas electric hybrid car, like a Prius, okay. So I'm going to choose that compact car.
Now you could choose anything, right? Any of the equipment that they have in their fleet, you could choose to benchmark this way. But for this demonstration, I'm just going to choose that compact car. Now, here's where you choose your fuel type. So, you have the ability to look at a CNG vehicle, or maybe a diesel electric hybrid vehicle— that a lot of utilities are now incorporating into their fleet.
Or, maybe, you want to look at the gas electric hybrid, like the Prius, or maybe they're some LNG, or propane-only vehicles. So, we really are giving our clients the ability to drill down at a fuel usage-specific level, okay. But, right now, what I'm going to do is, I'm just going to open it up to all fuel types. And now you get to choose what cost buckets you're focusing on. Let's just look at operating cost right now. So, the operating cost would be mechanic labor, contract labor, parts, and fuel.
So, let's just look at that total operating cost. And then, if you were running any kind of two-wheel drive, four-wheel drive, you would also be able to compare that. And then, you get to choose how you want to see the comparison. So, maybe you could just want to see it on cost per unit, but I think what's more valuable is cost per usage, and that would either be a cost per mile, or a cost per gallon consumed, or gallon of throughput. And, in my opinion, when we get to the bigger equipment, especially equipment that may idle, this cost per gallon of throughput is a fantastic metric.
So, I'm just going to choose cost per mile, because that's something you guys are familiar with, and we're going to look at a little compact car, and that's a pretty good indicator. And we'll generate that, okay. So basically what it's showing, and I know it's a lot here on the graph, but let me just summarize it, this U bar is going to be Philadelphia. It's going to be their compact car. And, it's going to be their operating cost per mile.
So, you can see that they spend $.19 for every mile that those compact cars drive. They're going to spend $.19 to maintain it, put parts on it, and to fuel it. Now, if we compare that to the industry average, it's about $.18. So, you can see that they're right in line with the industry average at this point.
Now, here's where it gets kind of fun. Let's go back now, and instead of choosing all of the vehicles, let's go in and choose the gas electric hybrid, okay. So, this is going to be the Prius. And let's run that same metric. And so again, it's operating cost per mile, driven for the Prius.
Now, they only have five of them, so it's not a huge sample size, right, for this group. But, we do have 785 of them in the database. But for Philadelphia, they have five. So let's just look for the internal Philadelphia comparison.
So, they are at $.14. So for the Prius gas electric hybrid, they're spending $.14 in parts, and maintenance, and fuel, for every mile that it drives. Now, let's compare that to their gas-only vehicles. So remember $.14. If we open it back up, and now we're going to switch from the gas electric to the gas only, and we're going to regenerate. And now it moves to $.21.
So, you can see that just within the City of Philadelphia, there's a very significant difference in the operating cost per mile driven between the gas electric hybrid car and the all-gas car. And, it's the same vehicle class. So we're sticking with that compact car; we're just breaking it in between the gas electric hybrid and the gas-only vehicle. And, we can see when we look at operating cost, there is a pretty significant difference between, you know, the $.14 for the Prius, and the $.21 for the gas only.
So, this is the kind of analysis that Utilimarc's been doing for ten years. We think, that with the utility clients that we have, so we do and deal with all of the major investor-owned utilities in the country, and now, the fact that we're moving into the municipal side of the benchmarking, that both of those groups have a tremendous amount of alternative fuel vehicles in their fleets.
And so, the database that we're starting to amass of alternative fueled technology, and the real world performance of those alternative fueled technologies, is quite exciting, actually. We're having a lot of fun with the data.
So, we don't really know what to do with the data yet, but it seems like the Clean Cities partnership is a great one for us, and we're very willing and eager to assist in what you are trying to achieve. And if our data can help you do that, we'd love to see how that partnership can look.
So, I'll just show you one more thing, and then we'll open it up to the Q and A. We do all kinds of lifecycle trending. And so, if you want to look at lifecycle modeling, and you want to look at a compact car, and I'm going to choose all here, you would be able to see what the operating costs differential is over the life of that piece of equipment. And so, this tan bar is going to be for the industry, okay, and the blue bar is going to be for this specific utility.
And the reason the blue bar is so choppy is because, as you look at the utility, I mean at the City of Philadelphia, I apologize, you can see they just don't have many of these vehicles. But, what we can do is start to trend time, you know, over the years, what the maintenance cost, what's going to happen to maintenance cost per usage, or per mile, as that vehicle ages.
And so again, there's a ton of analysis we can do, as far as really predicting as certain vehicle classes age, and vehicle alternative fuel vehicle technologies age, what can we predict in increased operating cost as those vehicles age.
So Sandra, I should probably stop now, and maybe open it up for questions. And, I'll keep both of these open in case anybody has anything I can refer to.
SANDRA LOI: Okay, great. Thank you so much, Chris. Operator, can we go ahead and open up the lines for questions, please?
COORDINATOR: Thank you. At this time, if you would like to ask a question, please press star one on your touch-tone telephone. You will be prompted to record your name in order to be introduced. Once again, press star one on your touch-tone telephone, record your name so you may ask your question. Please continue to hold while we wait for the first question.
Currently, I'm showing no questions. Once again, if you would like to ask a question please press star one.
SANDRA LOI: Chris, while we're waiting for questions, I just wanted to, something that I thought of as you were talking about the Utilimarc website, how do you foresee coordinators using that? I noticed that it's focused on particular fleets or specific agency, here, the City of Philadelphia. How do you perceive coordinators taking advantage of that? And, what message do you think that that would sort of fit in with what they're doing?
CHRIS SHAFFER: Yes, I think what we've talked about in the past is maybe building kind of a datasheet, an aggregate datasheet that would roll up. You know, I think in the database right now, we have over, you know, a 1,000, you know, Prius in the database. And so, what might be interesting is to just take a lot of the information and maybe compare, you know, the Ford Focus to the Toyota Prius, to maybe a propane-type vehicle.
And, if there was some high-level datasheets we could create for you folks, that would help the coordinators when they're in, you know, dealing specifically with a fleet. That that might be something we could look at doing.
SANDRA LOI: Okay, great. And, we actually had one come in over the Web from Jason Waker. His question is, will bio-fuels be added to the query options?
CHRIS SHAFFER: Yeah, that's a great question. The challenge, well, first of all, I would say, you know, if we look at our utility space, a significant portion of the diesel fuel that they burn is a B20. The challenge is, knowing which vehicles are burning that fuel, and when. Now, we have some fleets that are all B20s, so that is something we could do, absolutely. We could incorporate that into the query.
SANDRA LOI: Do we have any questions on the phone lines, Sandy?
COORDINATOR: We do have one. One moment.
SANDRA LOI: Thank you.
COORDINATOR: Our first question comes from Stacy Neef. Your line is open.
STACY NEEF: Hi, I just have a question. How are the fleets introduced to this program?
CHRIS SHAFFER: Which one?
STACY NEEF: The Fleet Answers.
CHRIS SHAFFER: Yes, that is completely free. And so, Fleet Answers is free to all fleet professionals. So, it's just out there on the Web, and we have not done a tremendous amount to promote it. You know, it's just one of those things. It is fairly new, and so it is out there. If they do some searching, a lot of times it will pop up, but we have not promoted it very extensively yet.
STACY NEEF: Second question. Are you—is someone available to do a, something similar like this, with a, say, like, at a stakeholder meeting?
CHRIS SHAFFER: Absolutely, love to. Yes.
STACY NEEF: Thank you.
CHRIS SHAFFER: Yes, you bet. We do see some value in trying to create a Clean Cities tag in Fleet Answers. So, I think a lot of the folks, the municipal folks, that are in Fleet Answers—I bet a lot of them are part of Clean Cities. And it makes sense to maybe have that affiliation where they can click, and create, and say that I am part of this. So, if they want to reach out to somebody else who's a part of Clean Cities, they can do that pretty easily.
SANDRA LOI: And Chris, can folks contact you directly? Is your contact information on either of the websites if they did want you to come to a meeting or had any other questions?
CHRIS SHAFFER: Absolutely, on both Utilimarc and Fleet Answers—those will come to me, and so they can just either call or shoot an email, and I'll be happy to help any way I can.
SANDRA LOI: Okay, great.
COORDINATOR: And I'm showing no further questions on the audio.
SANDRA LOI: Okay. Chris, did you have anything else you wanted to add before we go ahead and wrap up today?
CHRIS SHAFFER: No. If anybody has any data requests, if, you know, you're going into a meeting, if one of your clients has asked you something that you don't know how to answer, you know, if it's something quick and easy, we'll be happy to help. Just give us a call, and we'll query the database real quick. And if you just need a percentage, or a number, and if we can do that for you, we'll be happy to.
SANDRA LOI: Great. Well, thanks again, Chris. Thank you for joining us today. I had a question; let me see.
CHRIS SHAFFER: Sure.
SANDRA LOI: Just a comment, okay. Good feedback coming back on the website. One of our coordinators is already checking it out. So, wanted to thank you again for joining us, Chris. Appreciate your time and talking through both of these great website tools. And if anyone has any questions, feel free to, you know, contact Chris directly through either of the websites, or myself, or Andrew, as always. And hope everyone has a great week, and take care.
CHRIS SHAFFER: Great, thank you.
SANDRA LOI: Thank you.
CHRIS SHAFFER: Yes, bye.
COORDINATOR: Thank you. That does conclude today's conference call. You may disconnect at this time, and thank you for participating.