Using Centralized Fleet Monitoring and Management Systems to Leverage Data, Improve Safety, and Optimize Maintenance
Centralized Fleet Asset Maintenance System (CFAMS)
Whether it’s to support production, storage, transport, or distribution, fleet management in any setting is a complex area of responsibility. It encompasses not only the vehicles themselves but the personnel that work on and operate them and the equipment and spare parts that keeps them running. Given the complexity, it is impossible for service technicians to be aware of all the variables that affect the operational life and readiness of their fleets by observation and inspection alone.
Most facilities already practice components of good fleet stewardship, whether it be logging vehicle use, limiting use of vehicles to qualified operators, or recording accidents and other incidents on a manual basis. Combined, these practices generate useful data on which to base decisions about maintenance and inventory. However, they suffer from two shortcomings: They are insufficiently granular, producing discrete records at intervals instead of continuously recording data over time. And they are dispersed—different data sources do not inhabit the same system, making it time- and labor-intensive to make cross-comparisons or to evaluate past performance to anticipate future maintenance needs. Data that cannot be analyzed cannot be leveraged! Without data to assess their fleets’ usage and needs, maintainers seeking to minimize the risk of catastrophic failure resort to unnecessary cycles of scheduled preventative maintenance.
The Centralized Fleet Automated Management System (CFAMS) project was launched to develop a wireless fleet management hardware and software solution from existing commercial, off-the-shelf technology. The project includes the design and evaluation of a system of vehicle-mountable devices and accompanying software that connect to a U.S. Army facility’s existing Wi-Fi network. CFAMS records data through both passive monitoring, by tracking vehicles’ position and flagging operator violations, and through user input, such as OSHA inspection checklists. The system centralizes data about vehicle condition and usage patterns in one platform, giving facility managers a bird’s-eye, time-lapse perspective on how their assets and personnel are deployed.
CFAMS provides an invaluable resource for fleet maintainers aiming to migrate away from inefficient schedule-based maintenance regimes or to implement process improvements, such as Lean Logistics. Both strategies allow facilities to conserve resources and increase productivity by operating more efficiently and proactively.
The primary benefit of traditional schedule-based maintenance is that it prevents vehicle use times from conflicting with maintenance activities. The practice does little to limit waste or triage assets so that resources and technicians’ time are devoted to the vehicles that need them most. According to Diego Navarro, global fleet solutions manager for the John Deere Company’s Construction and Forestry Division, “Preventive maintenance (PM), as scheduled maintenance tends to be called, doesn’t prevent anything. As it is normally used, PM minimizes downtime only. However, predictive maintenance maximizes uptime.”
The practice persists because a lack of data about vehicle use from which maintainers can estimate wear and possibility of component failure. CFAMS records the time a vehicle spends in motion or carrying a load, its location, and the routes it takes during operation. Having access to these usage metrics frees maintainers from reliance on frequent scheduled maintenance to preserve the health of their fleets. This eliminates unnecessary preventative maintenance cycles while also improving fleet readiness, reducing risk of component failure, and allowing maintainers to downsize inventories of spare parts.
These benefits dovetail with the goals of Lean Logistics, namely, waste reduction through increased flow of products and services down the value chain. Based on manufacturing practices employed by Toyota, Lean Logistics initiatives strive, above all else, to eliminate excess inventory and to identify and correct barriers and bottlenecks along the chain. CFAMS data is a valuable planning resource for facilities evaluating whether to “right-size” their fleets, inventories, and personnel. The result is that a facility is able to sustain or improve its level of productivity with less equipment and staff.
Total projected savings for the DoD range from $4,920 to $6,760 per vehicle. As implemented, CFAMS has helped optimize depot operations and decrease maintenance cost while improving equipment readiness, reduce vehicle and facility damage, and improve overall safety. CFAMS was installed at Sierra Army Depot (SIAD) during a pilot from 2008 to 2009. The system quickly demonstrated potential far in excess of initial estimates, resulting in a full return on investment in approximately a year, translating to a net present value return, within five years, of almost $4.7 million.
The Centralized Fleet Asset Management System (CFAMS) is a wireless hardware and software system designed to facilitate fleet management by regulating the use of individual vehicles and reporting maintenance data to installation personnel. CFAMS allows vehicles to operate independently within management-defined parameters, with the aim of improving safety and utilization.
The system consists of a set of integrated, radio-frequency-based computers installed on vehicles. The computers are outfitted with software that conducts up to 300 operations, generating maintenance-specific reports and critical event alerts. It collects thousands of metrics related to vehicle telemetry and utilization. This allows supervisors to immediately respond to emergencies and exhaustively document vehicle and installation activity.
CFAMS also allows only qualified operators to drive a specific piece of equipment, eliminating the most common OSHA-cited reason of industrial vehicle accidents in the workplace. Impact reporting allows on-site personnel to locate and repair structural damage to facilities and fixtures.
The system improves workplace safety and prevents loss of work time due to preventable failures and accidents. CFAMS outputs preventative maintenance checklists as well as reporting speeding and impact violations; in the case of violations or when preventative maintenance is not performed, the system can shut vehicles down to compel action, reducing the probability of lost work time due to preventable failures and accidents.
- S. Army – Sierra Army Depot (SIAD)
- S. Army – Anniston Army Depot (ANAD)
- S. Army – Tobyhanna Army Depot (TYAD)
- S. Army – Red River Army Depot (RRAD)
- Marine Corps Logistics Base Albany
- Army Materiel Command G-6
- Defense Logistics Agency (DLA) Distribution Warner Robins
- D. Systems, Inc.
- Ford Motor Company
- National Center for Manufacturing Sciences (NCMS)
 G.C. Skipper, “Predictive Maintenance and Condition-Based Monitoring | Construction Equipment,” February 22, 2013, http://www.constructionequipment.com/predictive-maintenance-and-condition-based-monitoring.
 World Wide Shipping and Robert Martichenko, “Lean Logistics – Understanding,” LTD Management, n.d., http://www.ltdmgmt.com/understanding-lean-logistics.php.