Smithsonian Institute achieves significant : fleet efficiency improvements

Chevin single data management architecture enables true lifecycle cost analysis – leading to lower costs and better planning and decision-making


smithsonion institution

Around the world, the Smithsonian Institution is hard at work achieving its cultural and educational objectives. To support those initiatives it utilises more than 2,500 assets.

In recognition of the need to gain better control over its fleet operations, in 2006 the Smithsonian Institution commissioned an independent comprehensive review of its existing fleet management practices.

This report made numerous recommendations for improvements so that the Smithsonian could better manage its fleet.

The need for a change in tactics

Careful review and analysis of the fleet study report indicated that an inefficient and disjointed approach to fleet management was in place. As such, the Smithsonian created the new position of Fleet Manager and recruited Bill Griffiths to the post.

Griffiths immediately recognized the need for an effective fleet information system that would assist the organization in streamlining the management of its fleet operations as well as help it to reduce operating costs.

After reviewing several software products, in late 2007 Griffiths opted for the web-based and highly configurable FleetWave fleet management information system from Chevin Fleet Solutions, which is able to be customized to incorporate the specific needs of the charitable organization.

Putting a solution in place

Chevin worked with the Smithsonian Institution to conduct detailed business process reviews; to configure individual screens and prototypes; to design and test interfaces; to migrate data from current stand alone systems; to install test and production environments, and to provide onsite training.

Griffiths explains the reasons behind partnering with Chevin Fleet Solutions:

“After looking at several competing products, it was clear that FleetWave would be the best tool for the job. The fact that FleetWave is web-based rather than just web-enabled, mirrors the nature of the Smithsonian and means regardless of where our users are located around the world they have access to up-to-date meaningful fleet data.

“Another selling point was the ability to configure FleetWave to the specific needs of our organization instead of trying to shape our processes around an inflexible piece of software. This surprisingly wasn’t an option with the majority of the other applications we considered, but it’s a big plus in terms of usability.”

A five-month project implementation process was completed in February 2008. Today, the Smithsonian Institution is utilizing every FleetWave module to deliver fleet and asset management capabilities for more than 2,500 assets around the world.

Using FleetWave’s integrated suite of workshop, inventory and fuel management tools, the Smithsonian supports all maintenance management oversight and cost visibility using the single, centrally-administered fleet management information system.

A fuel interface added in 2011 is supporting the institution’s goal of importing 100% of its conventional and alternative fuel details into FleetWave. In addition, deploying FleetWave’s motor pool module allows the Smithsonian’s drivers to access the application to reserve pool vehicles from anywhere, at any time.

A wide range of Smithsonian personnel – from the central fleet administration team to remote technicians and internal fleet users – are using FleetWave. Individually configured user login details ensure that secure access to fleet operating data is always maintained so that proprietary data– such as confidential driver details– are only accessible to appropriate personnel.

As part of the company’s annual support agreement, Chevin provides ongoing technical support with dedicated personnel available to ensure any problems are solved as quickly and efficiently as possible.

Impressive improvements in fleet efficiencies

With FleetWave in place, Griffiths and the Smithsonian Institution’s fleet management team are now able to determine the true lifecycle cost of assets.

Bi-annual mandatory fleet status reporting alone has been cut from months to days.

In addition, they’re able to produce in-depth fiscal reports, which not only saves months of data manipulation and manual analysis but also enables more informed fact-based financial decisions.

For the Smithsonian Institution, the configurable capabilities of FleetWave have facilitated a transition from manual methods of standalone spreadsheets and paper work orders to a fully-integrated fleet management environment.

According to Griffiths, there has been a great return on the Smithsonian’s software investment in FleetWave:

“Before the implementation of FleetWave, it was often impossible to make informed fact-based decisions. Post-implementation, it’s a different story altogether as we’ve clearly achieved a recognizable return on our investment by migrating to FleetWave. We now have complete control over all costs and a much better understanding of our operational efficiencies – this was impossible without FleetWave.

“Thanks to Chevin Fleet Solutions, the Smithsonian Institution has transformed its fleet operations and is continuing to fine tune processes to ensure more consistent and cost-effective fleet management practices. The financial cost of operating the fleet has not only been made more transparent but now is significantly reduced. With FleetWave we have a leaner fleet operation and financial resources to help the Smithsonian Institution achieve its cultural and educational objectives around the world.”

Ron Katz, Senior Vice President, North American Sales at Chevin Fleet Solutions, comments:

“The Smithsonian Institution is now at the forefront of 21st century fleet management with the very latest web-based technologies at its disposal to optimize efficiencies, streamline fleet processes and provide its users with a holistic view of complete fleet performance data from vehicle utilization and fuel management to scheduled maintenance and accident repairs. We’re proud to be working with such a respectable organization and look forward to continuing to support the Smithsonian for many years to come.”