School Bus Fleet

October 2014

A management & maintenance magazine for school transportation fleets

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43 O C T O B E R 2 0 1 4 • S C H O O L B U S F L E E T buses and a few hearses. Over the next 46 years, the feet expanded into var- ious locations throughout Minneso- ta, Iowa and Nevada. Now, Owaton- na Bus Co. has six locations, serving 48 states and all Canadian provinces. Though the company's bread and but- ter is school buses, its various locations offer other services as well, such as a full paint booth for outside work, char- ter coaches and special-needs transpor- tation with Type A wheelchair vans. Lammers explains that when he started with the company in 1977 as a service technician, technicians had to record everything in a notebook. They wrote down the mileages of buses at least once a week or when they were being refueled. The technicians record- ed how much fuel was used, the date and the mileage of the bus. These note- books, of course, were not surefre, and if a technician overlooked a bus or re- corded the mileage wrong, it could cause maintenance and cost issues. "All of a sudden if someone realiz- es a bus didn't get the oil changed for 10,000 miles when it should have been done at 4,000 miles, that's a problem," he says. "The chances of something like that happening now, slipping through the cracks, is pretty rare, just because there are so many systems put into place to double check itself." For example, if the driver enters a nonsensical mileage into the fuel- ing software, the system understands that and prompts the driver to reen- ter the mileage. After three tries, the driver can manually enter it, but the software logs it as incorrect and Lam- mers will get an alert. That's one of the processes that makes an oversight almost impossible. The evolution The company purchased Manager- Plus in 1997 in an effort to cut down on paper waste, cost and maintenance oversight. The system was originally run on DOS and then switched over to a Windows application, which Owa- Greg Lammers, Owatonna Bus Co.'s feet manager, attributes his success to a dependable software management system and effcient procedures, which keep his total cost of ownership at a minimum. BY KELSEY NOLAN, EDITORIAL ASSISTANT Owatonna Bus Co. Shares TCO Secrets Owatonna Bus Co. has six loca- tions, serving 48 states and all Canadian provinces. Though the company's bread and butter is school buses, its various loca- tions also offer services such as a full paint booth for outside work, charter coaches and special-needs transportation. A minimal total cost of owner- ship (TCO) is the goal for any feet manager. With some precise company procedures, Greg Lammers, the feet manager for Owatonna Bus Co. in Owatonna, Min- nesota, has managed to calculate and measure his exact TCO for each vehi- cle in his 275-vehicle feet. What has helped Lammers perfect his system is management software called Manager- Plus. With this software, some strategic forward-thinking, and an effort to streamline his labor, maintenance and inventory costs, Lammers has created a system that minimizes human error and safety checks that ensure no ve- hicle maintenance falls through the cracks. Getting started Owatonna Bus Co. began in 1967 with owner William E. Regan's pur- chase of Mason Bus Co., which con- sisted of two charter coaches, 16 school

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