Does your anti-idle policy really make a difference?

For us, no, not really. Conceptually it is a good idea; it demonstrates an administration that wants to “make a difference” by reducing their carbon footprint. However it does not really have any teeth in it and is a policy without any real way to enforce and/or discipline an employee for not doing it. In addition it is not quantifiable.  

So what’s the answer?  We are saving about $15,000 per police vehicle over its lifetime. First, we used our GPS to identify the greatest opportunities for idle reduction and to help each department monitor and alert managers to those vehicles. What was the criteria? Vehicles that exceed acceptable measures for idling – typically 5-10 minutes max, depending on the end user application.

Then we attacked the high idle users like police with 21st century technology. We learned that about 50 percent of all “key-on” time for our front-line police cruisers was idle time. Then we addressed the problem with clear objectives:

  • Reduce fuel consumption through technology
  • Limit disruption of current officer protocols
  • Fleet/Police work together to deliver on a viable solution
  • Implementation occurs with current 2014 orders
  • Metric driven results for Police fuel reductions
  • Reduce 50 percent of current “key-on” time as idle time by 35 percent

We worked closely with police to attack the problem by implementing and testing technology on cruisers and implementing a solution that doesn’t require the officer to do anything, like hitting a button to engage or disengage the new technology. It also has full climate control to maintain the comfort and safety of the officer while doing his/her job inside the vehicle! Got it? Simple, right?  Anything but!

In all, this was a tall order and we found just the technology that we could all agree upon - GRIP.

This 21st century technology has a computer coupled with an auxiliary battery that is preprogrammed by the Division of Fleet to automatically shutdown of the cruiser after two (2) minutes of idle time, maintaining all operational electrical systems on everything such as computers, lights, heater, A/C and most importantly, the air bag system. All parties were brought to the table identifying the solution and testing, and Police embraced the technology. The proof? After several months of testing we are now placing the technology on 90 new police cruisers in the next few weeks.

The results are staggering. With just a 35 percent reduction in idle time, the new technology pays for itself within the first year of operations – saving about $3,500 a year in fuel costs for each and every cruiser. That means that we anticipate a savings of approximately $315,000 in the first year and since a cruiser has a “life-cycle” of five years, the savings grows to almost $15,000 during the vehicles tenure in fleet.

This really starts to add up to some real money when you use a multiplier of 90 new police units per year, resulting in about $1,200,000 per year in savings once we have all 340 cruisers operating with the GRIP system – by 2018.  

You might ask, are we stopping there? No, we are currently testing our medics with the same technology, especially since we have determined that these units idle on average 64 percent of all “key-on” time while in operation.

How is your anti-idle technology working for you? You may have a better idea, if so, I would love to hear it! Use the comment box below.

Kelly Reagan is the fleet administrator for Columbus, Ohio.

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