Archive for Monday, December 27, 2010

Lawrence city commission to conduct morning meeting on Dec. 28

December 27, 2010


Lawrence city commissioners will meet at 9 a.m. Tuesday for a year-end bill paying session.

Commissioners do not have any regular agenda items, but rather will pay bills and make a handful of year-end purchases. Among the items on the city’s consent agenda are:

• $29,250 to ETC Institute to conduct a citizen survey in 2011;

• $50,199 to NetWorkFleet for 32 GPS units for the Utilities Department, 35 for the Solid Waste Division, and 26 for the Street division.

Commissioners will not meet at 6:35 p.m. Tuesday.


kernal 7 years, 5 months ago

Wonder what the ETC Institute citizen survey is for.

tonytman 7 years, 5 months ago

we need to spend 50,000 to tell the street dept and the sanatation dept an address in town they work in that is stupid look on a map they have gotten by with out it for 100 years.50,000 could be better spent on roads or education

gudpoynt 7 years, 5 months ago

Maybe. The idea behind implementing GPS units is cutting costs by making city crews more efficient. It can be done, but only with an effective implementation. I'd be interested to see what the plan is. Anybody have a lead?

$50,199 / 93 GPS units is $539.77 per unit. At an average of, say $15/hr, that's about 36 hours of pay. So at that avg. rate of pay, the project would pay for itself in a year if it could save employees 36 hours of work on average.

Admittedly, I pulled the $15/hr out of thin air. If the avg pay is higher for these positions (those who will be using the GPS units), then the avg number of hours needed to be saved in order to be cost effective would go down. If the avg pay is lower, then person hours saved would have to be more in order to be cost effective.

This does not take into account indirect time savings of those not using the GPS units directly (for instance, it could improve efficiencies in dispatching, data collection/entry, reporting, etc).

While these numbers probably aren't accurate, a similar analysis with more accurate values could be applied to gauge the effectiveness of implementation. Using the faux numbers above, I would file it under "plausible".

I'm much more skeptical of the $539.77 / GPS unit cost. I'd like to see just what these devices can do that your ROTM retail GPS unit, or GPS enabled smart phone (in the $150 - $300 price range) cannot. Is this the best rate the city could negotiate to satisfy their needs (especially given that they are buying in bulk)?

tonytman 7 years, 5 months ago

By Efficient do you mean like the 5 guys that stand around a hole watching one guy dig it. And yes i could see it helping mabe the utillites dept. in that way . But the street dept who has to print the new sighs for new streets and install them And the wast div. that uses a route should be able to look at a map or get it from map quest befor leaving the shop.And mabe 3-4 units for each dept but 20-30 for each. And do we want them looking at gps insted of paying attention to ther driving.

MattressMan 7 years, 5 months ago

I don't know for sure Tony but I am assuming it is a completly different type of GPS than what you are referring to. These particular units would most likely allow supervisors/management to better track where the trucks are at any given time or how long they are in a particular location allowing them to ask questions such as "why was your truck at kwik shop for 10 minutes" or something similar.

gudpoynt 7 years, 5 months ago

5 guys standing around a hole watching one guy dig it has nothing to do with logistics. That's a crew management problem and won't be exacerbated nor improved with the addition of GPS units. (That being said, then next time you see a road worker standing "idly" by, follow them for a couple of hours before you peg them as being lazy. I worked on a road construction crew before, and I assure you, that while they may not be immediately active for the entire work day, they actually do complete a fair amount of work that is not exactly easy, physically speaking).

In most cases, GPS devices are much more than just maps. They work in real time and facilitate with communication. That's why I'm interested to see exactly what devices are being used, how they plan to implement them, and why they cost as much as they do.

I used to work for a company where the technicians used GPS devices and it helped us streamline processes in a variety of ways.

If a new priority job came up during the course of the day, it could be added to the technician's queue immediately, along with notes for the technician and a priority level.

If a technician needed extra help or equipment, we could see who was immediately in the area to provide assistance, as opposed to calling all techs and asking them where they were.

We worked to mitiage scenarios like those above by attaching valuable meta data per location before the tech was dispatched, such as special notes about the customer or special equipment or legal documents needed. This helped to reduce the amount time a tech spent idly waiting for signatures, or making extra trips back to the shop or to the hardware store for equipment they didn't know they needed. This was probably the most immediate benefit in terms of saving person-hours.

From a broader perspective, you can use the GPS data collected to analyze inefficiencies. For instance, you can see which crews work fastest, which work slowest, which sites require more resources, where there might be bottlenecks in routes, etc.

Of course, you can do most of this without GPS devices, just not as quickly or as easily. And since it all comes down to saving time (read "money"), technology such as this can really be a long term cost saver -- but it all comes down to the effectiveness of the implementation.

If the city is buying nearly 100 units, I would hope they got some sort of bulk rate. And if the bulk rate is over $500 per unit, I hope these devices are slick enough to do more than just eliminate a few extraneous phone calls.

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