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September 15. 2013 10:21PM

Manchester garage asks for computer system to track repairs

MANCHESTER — Managers at the city’s new centralized vehicle repair operation, touted as a way to save money on maintenance of city-owned vehicles, want the Board of Mayor and Aldermen to authorize borrowing close to $250,000 to help pay for a computer system to keep track of work done at the new Hayward Street shop.

The aldermen’s Committee on Administration and Information Systems will consider the proposal today; it was recommended in the study that led to the creation of the Central Fleet Management Department.

The $292,000 cost would be paid through $50,000 held in reserve for fleet management computer upgrades and a bond issue of about $242,000 for the remainder.

“It’s basically a fleet-compatible system that allows us to keep track of everything that happens with a vehicle,” said Wesley Anderson, director of the new department. “You have the basic capacity now to keep track of what you are spending, but it really doesn’t have the capability to help you manage the fleet.”Late in the 2012-13 fiscal year, aldermen approved spending $200,000 to maintain several pieces of equipment, including repairs to fire trucks.

“It’s really two different things.” Anderson said. “What the aldermen did for me last year is stuff I need to fix vehicles directly, parts and tires, for example. Fleet management (software) is more like an investment for the future; it helps you get a department to be more efficient.”

The city was also hit with a decision from the state labor board upholding a grievance filed by the Teamsters Union on behalf of police mechanics.

That issue is being taken up as part of negotiations on a new contract.

The software program, called Asset Fast, can help city managers decide the best time to trade in individual vehicles in the 461-vehicle fleet — based on repair history and current condition.

Anderson said it can also help the city rotate equipment to prevent some vehicles getting more wear and tear than others.

The program would also track spending on each vehicle.

“I could look at, say, all my dump trucks that are in the same year of purchase...,” he said. If more was being spent on a particular truck, “it would give a focus on why ­— is it an operator issue, do we have a lemon, is it the route that it’s on?”

Mechanics will also be able to access the complete history of a car or truck from a repair bay.

Central Fleet Management expanded to service Manchester Water Works vehicles earlier this year. Further expansion to care for the Manchester airport’s fleet is unlikely, Anderson said, because few airport vehicles are used off the site. Many are one-of-a-kind vehicles for specialized use, he said.

If recommended by the committee, the bond issue would face a vote by the full Board of Aldermen.

The Water Department would be responsible for about $40,000 of the total.

billsmith@unionleader.com


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