WFP Truck Fleet in Juba, South Sudan. Copyright: WFP/Ekram Elhuni.
A new software application doesn't really sound so thrilling, we know. But for our Fleet Management Team the launch of the web-based Fleet Management System (FMS) was truly an exciting achievement. With 13 country offices already using the FMS and all countries where WFP trucks operate scheduled to be linked in by the end of 2010, we persuaded our Strategic Fleet Manager, Jean-Francois “Jeff” Milhaud, into telling us all about the process of building the FMS for WFP, what it does and what it brings to the organisation. Here's what he told us.
The project started a few years ago and kicked into high gear last year just before the launch. Once Jeff and our field fleet managers established what the FMS should be and the concept was down on paper, all specificities of WFP operations were submitted to the crew at Chevin Fleet Solutions, who created the final web-based system adapted to WFP operations. Previously fleet management systems were stand alone offline systems that monitored individual fleets, making a global view extremely difficult, if not almost impossible to obtain. Thanks to this new system, a corporate system centralised in Rome, monitoring WFP fleets is now a global affair.
This summer, a successful pilot-test ran in Kampala, and in July about 40 WFP selected field staff participated in two “Training of Trainers” conducted in Kampala and Accra to learn FMS and spread the FMS word. Now FMS is live, well and growing with the work of many WFP staff directly affected including drivers, fitters, data clerks, logistics officers and assistants, workshop managers, fleet managers and mechanics.
So what can this tool do?
Here’s where we saw Jeff really shows just how sincerely passionate he is about fleet performance and management. He repeatedly mentioned words like “efficiency”, “control”, “optimise”, "cost efficiency". He walked us through the basic information criteria needed to run operations (the what to take, when and where to) and then laid out the whole range of possibilities the information presented in the 40 different reports that the FMS generates and how it can be cross-analysed to hugely improve operational fleet management.
We are talking about identifying variables such as vehicle best routing, journey duration per season, fuel consumption per route and per model size, repair time per brand and per country, vehicle, driver and stock idle time, and many, many more. This full analysis allows a 24h real-time view of WFP fleet performance.
WFP Afghanistan is currently using the system. Shershah Wahidi, seated in the picture here with his colleague Sharif SHERZAD, is the senior logistics assistant and FMS focal point in Afghanistan. He says the system is very user friendly and ‘useful for all level of staff involved in the fleet asset management and decision making, from the top level manager to lower level employees, It provides an overall picture of the fleet status and its performance.’ Until now, in Afghanistan alone, fleet data was spread out over seven different offline systems with that data having to be imported into one system.
This tool is also a move towards reducing fuel consumption and greenhouse gas emissions in accordance with the UN family’s Climate Neutral initiative, aiming towards a “greener” fleet management.
At a later stage, WFP and Chevin will meet to discuss further possible enhancements to the system. Options include translations into other languages for WFP’s many French and Arabic speaking countries, an offline version for places where internet access is limited and interfaces to other tracking systems utilized by WFP Logistics.
Now two words on the people that made this happen:
A former mechanic, Jeff worked for 5 years in the BIOFORCE Training Centre for Humanitarian Logistics before joining the Logistics Cluster in 2007 and later became part of our own WFP Logistics managerial staff; his right hand man in our Field Support Fleet Team, business analyst Kenji Yamagishi; WFP’s Logistics Systems Unit Chief and FMS technical Project Coordinator, Eric Branckaert; and a standing ovation to all the dedicated parties involved: all of our field Fleet staff related Managers, the staff at Chevin (Karan, Steve and Gerry) and those at the Global Vehicle Leasing Programme (GVLP) in Dubai.