Defining the Fleet Organization’s Purpose

May 18, 2016

Reprinted with the permission of Equipment Manager magazine, the magazine of the Association of Equipment Management Professionals.

The purpose of a fleet organization is to serve and support its internal customers. After all, a company’s revenue is generated by operations performing its duties well: digging the hole, moving the dirt, drilling the tunnel, paving the road. Fleet’s job is to provide equipment, fuel, maintenance and other services when and where operations needs them, and in a timely and cost-effective manner.

The service relationship between fleet and operations is a unique one, different from the service relationship between a distributor and an end user. Certain dynamics can affect the relationship between them, and how the organization manages equipment makes a difference.

In a centralized fleet, which is typically managed as a single “corporate-based” entity, often there can be competition between fleet and operations for owner/management attention, focus and resources. Operations may resent being told what tools they have to use or what brands they have to buy. They may have less flexibility to rent machines or to move them around.

In a decentralized fleet, where the fleet is typically broken up into separated entities loosely tied together in some fashion, the fleet department may be small, have less clout, and have less access to resources. Operations may have, or even take over, some of fleet’s typical responsibilities.

It is also fleet’s responsibility to serve the owners and the management team. A fleet manager cannot forget that they have a responsibility to the stockholders of the company—to efficiently manage the largest portion of the company assets. Although the fleet has to serve the internal customer, it must do that at the estimated or lowest cost per machine hour. It is also the fleet’s responsibility to prevent misuse, underutilization, underreporting, etc.

That often puts a fleet stuck in the middle between management and operations.

In all these cases, it is still the fleet’s responsibility to serve the customer in the best way they can, and within the framework of the particular company’s management structure. Fleet and operations should work together for the betterment of the whole organization, and strive to not take each other for granted.