North Lanarkshire Council is transforming the management of its 600-strong fleet following the roll-out of a new system. Part of a move to paperless working by the council, the system from Freeway Fleet Systems sees workshop mechanics equipped with rugged tablet devices with a mobile app providing digital job cards and inspection sheets.
Managing a large local authority is complex as many different types of vehicles are operated by different departments. The fleet includes refuse vehicles, buses, ride on grass cutting machinery, cars and vans that are used across departments such as waste, grounds maintenance, health and social care, roads and education. Freeway will also be used to manage over 1000 other assets such as plant and power tools.
Previously North Lanarkshire had relied on a legacy fleet management system used in conjunction with spreadsheets and paper records. This meant hours spent entering data, filing and looking for records; it was cumbersome and inefficient.
The Council introduced Freeway in 2022 and with the help of Freeway’s software implementation specialists Genie Insights, data was transferred from the existing system and spreadsheets, with paper reports replaced with digital versions.
“It’s still early days with Freeway but the system has already completely transformed the management of the fleet,” says Lynn O’Neill, Service Delivery Manager (Performance & Compliance), Waste and Fleet. “We’ve eliminated much of the paper and data entry work. That’s not only boosted efficiency but has allowed us to re-direct efforts to other important tasks to improve asset management and levels of service.”
“The biggest benefit of Freeway is that everything we need is one click away. It gives us visibility of everything going on so we are always fully informed. This means we can make better decisions and improve communication as we have the information that we need to hand,” O’Neill explains.
Managing vehicles used across different council departments creates a particular challenge for management but Freeway is beginning to make this easier according to O’Neill. “We’re forever on the phone trying to get hold of people to schedule workshop bookings and then chase them when they forget! So, now we will automate communication with emails and texts, with an escalation to managers if needed. And those responsible for a vehicle will be able to use the Freeway app on their mobile phone to check on a vehicle’s availability and status.”
Other automation is being introduced to improve accident reporting and insurance claims. Soon, drivers will be able to record their walk-around vehicle safety checks using a Freeway app which will in turn give the workshop immediate insight into any defects that need to be rectified.
“In addition to giving us visibility of everything going on day to day, Freeway allows us to drill-down into the costs of running the fleet. We had little insight into the real cost before but now we can see everything from operating costs, individual vehicle performance, recurring defects, to parts and labour costs including over run hours of jobs,” O’Neill explains.
“I don’t think we’ll ever actually get to the end of implementation as so much can be done with Freeway and it’s evolving all the time. The fact that support is also good – and we had invaluable help setting up the system [from an expert from Genie Insights] – has made a tremendous difference to success allowing North Lanarkshire to reap the rewards of greater efficiency and cost control.” O’Neill adds.
Cllr Helen Loughran, Convener of the Council’s Environment and Climate Change Committee agrees – “It is good to see that the Council’s digital transformation programme is starting to assist so many areas of the Council. I know that the efficiencies that will be derived from this will allow the Council to reinvest not only in the Fleet service but in other areas throughout the Council at a time when we are facing ever increasing financial challenges.”