Murrysville sanitary authority uses GPS technology to monitor fleet

| Wednesday, July 16, 2014, 9:00 p.m.

A new GPS tracking program is saving the Franklin Township Municipal Sanitary Authority more than 100 gallons of gas each month.

Officials in September installed GPS units in the dashboard of six of the authorities 10 trucks. The units give assistant manager Kevin Kaplan the ability to track where trucks are and whether the vehicles are idling.

“It does improve efficiency, and we know where the guys are at and how long they're there,” Kaplan said. “It's paying for itself.”

The authority equipped six trucks with the tracking equipment — a field inspector's vehicle, a truck used for pump-station visits and repairs, a truck used for lateral inspections, a crane truck, a dump truck and a pickup truck used daily.

The project cost about $1,550 for equipment and $180 per month for the service. During the fall months, Kaplan found that the authority saved about $310 per month in gas costs.

By tracking the vehicles, Kaplan can dispatch a truck geographically closer to a line break or inspection rather than calling an inspector who might be 20 miles away.

Authority officials began instructing workers to turn off their trucks if they would be parked for more than five minutes.

“During the winter or summer, guys would get out for an inspection that would take 20 minutes,” Kaplan said. “They'd leave the heat or the air running. That isn't happening now.”

The authority has a gas pump on site to refuel authority vehicles, which makes it easy to track fuel usage, Kaplan said. In fall 2012, the authority used an average of 494.75 gallons of gas each month. After installing GPS units, that amount decreased to an average of 375 gallons each month. During a four-month time period, that equated to nearly $1,500 in savings, Kaplan said.

In 2012, the authority spent $20,100 on fuel, Kaplan said. A reduction of 4 miles per day on each vehicle would net the authority a 10 percent cost savings, he said.

Manager Jim Brucker — whose authority-issued vehicle is not one of the six equipped with a tracking device — lauded the decision.

“I was skeptical about it when (Kaplan) first came to me,” Brucker said. “We've always complained about idling. Now, all of the employees know that they're being watched, and it's saving money.”

Kaplan said he would like to have the equipment on all 10 vehicles, but it's not cost-effective, especially because three of the four that do not have tracking equipment installed are specialty vehicles that aren't frequently used.

“I would like to do all of the trucks, but that would reduce our cost savings,” Kaplan said. “But the more I use this, the more I love it.”

Daveen Rae Kurutz is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. She can be reached at 412-871-2365.

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