How Universities Build and Maintain Their Fleets
While most people do not think of vehicles when they think of the university campus, the reality is that modern university fleets have quite an extensive list of vehicles. Building and maintaining that fleet often requires the help of a full-time fleet management professional. Here are some factors that the university fleet manager must consider as they make the best possible use of the vehicles in their care.
Types of Vehicles in University Fleets
University fleets can be quite complex, with a wide range of vehicle types meeting a number of needs across the campus. The most publicly obvious type of vehicle is the bus or shuttle. These take students across campus, from campus to academic or sporting events and, in some universities, to locations in town where they may need to shop or get medical care, depending on the types of services offered to students. This division of the fleet may include large coach buses, small shuttle buses and even shuttle vans.
Alongside the commonly seen assets, university fleets are also going to include a number of utility vehicles. Keeping the grounds and buildings in good repair requires the use of vehicles, and those vehicles may include everything from commercial grade lawn mowers to skid loaders to move supplies from one place to the next.
Many often have as well, a fleet of passenger vehicles as well for their faculty and sometimes students to use when traveling for university purposes. Security vehicles that patrol parking lots and other areas of campus are another common type. Universities may also have a number of delivery vans or trucks in their fleets used to transport larger items or deliveries from one building to the next. For example, if a large piece of furniture needs to be relocated from the science classroom to the technology center, it can go in one of these vehicles.
Similarly, it’s not uncommon to find a pickup truck or two used for utility work in the modern university fleet.
How Universities Build Their Fleets
Few universities start operations with an expansive fleet.
Fleets are built through careful consideration as the university’s needs grow and change. Purchase decisions must pass through committees before new vehicles are acquired.
Often, grants and other financial helps are used to purchase vehicles. Sometimes the vehicle purchase price is worked into the operating budget. In both ways, university fleets are built slowly, adding vehicles as the demand for that particular service increases.
How Universities Manage Their Fleets
Because of the complexity of the university fleet, it’s crucial for fleet management professionals to use fleet analytics to determine the best possible use for their assets. Most universities do not operate with an excessive amount of extra income, and thus they must ensure that their fleets are running as efficiently as possible.
Fleet management software can be crucial to this process. In fact, fleet best practices for universities practically demand the use of some sort of GPS fleet tracking system to ensure vehicles are where they are supposed to be and are doing what they were purchased to do. This is especially true for the passenger vehicles that teachers or students may use out in the community.
Why is this so important?
Any unnecessary driving done in university vehicles increases the amount of money spent on fuel and maintenance. It also increases wear and tear on vehicles, and thus decreases their intended lifespan.
GPS fleet tracking also helps with routing of vehicles, which is important when the university runs shuttles or buses for their students. Careful routing ensures students are not left waiting for busses for an extended period of time while also avoiding the excessive fuel use that occurs when two shuttles running the same route follow each other back-to-back.
Maintenance is a Must
Finally, fleet management on a university campus requires maintenance. Most universities have on-site maintenance facilities they use to keep their vehicles running well. These facilities may tie into auto/diesel training programs, providing students a place for hands-on instruction. Because of the variety in the fleet, this training can be quite beneficial for students, providing a well-rounded education while also ensuring that campus vehicles are kept in good working order.
Because of the tight budgets of most university fleets, proper management is essential. Using technology and a savvy fleet manager, today’s universities can deliver exceptional service to their students through proper utilization of their fleet vehicles, without driving up the budget too much.