Utah Department of Transportation – Management Consulting, Development of Fleet Support Tools
“We need an estimated $12-$20 million in spending on new trucks each year. Past practice has been to spend about $1 million, and this past year an extra $3 million was provided,” he said. UDOT’s fleet vehicle average age is 13 years. “We continue to experience significant maintenance and repair cost increases due to fleet age since the replacement cycle slowed in 2009,” according to DOT Operations Manager Jeff Casper.
Utah DOT’s fleet is internally managed, and most repairs are done in house with the exception of warranty or overflow work. Operators perform oil changes and minor maintenance, and major repairs are brought to the home shop in Salt Lake City.
UDOT’s method of replacement is also to purchase using cash. “Utah explored leasing and buybacks and found out that plows are like fire trucks — one use only — and it wasn’t feasible in this case. UDOT uses its bond funding capability to support road projects,”
Utah commissioned an expert fleet study from The Kercher Group to identify optimum cycles and to maintain replacements at the appropriate average age for economic efficiency. The Utah fleet is somewhat unique in that it runs larger Class 8 plow trucks. Consultants indicated nine years was the ideal replacement cycle for Utah. The study noted Utah fleet trucks now deteriorate faster due to the use of liquid snow- and ice-dissolving chemicals such as magnesium chloride and brine, which take a toll on truck wiring and bodies. Because of this, Utah had a number of trucks with structural corrosion to address.
According to Casper, the study showed the cost efficiency of timely replacement.
“The older trucks require more maintenance and repair and don’t get fully utilized because of reliability, so the state is paying for something it’s not fully using,” he said. “In Utah, better new truck fuel economy and lower emissions are huge issues since we are surrounded by mountains, and the newer trucks run much cleaner.”