Quartermasters’ and Fleet Managers have a symbiotic relationship. The Fleet Manager is in charge of vehicles, their maintenance, support, and of course, ensuring that inspections occur. Quartermaster’s are in charge of equipment, and for all the same tasks as they relate to equipment. However, as the mission of law enforcement evolves, agencies find value in assigning some equipment to vehicles permanently, rather than between officers. By doing this, there is a shift in roles between Quartermaster and Fleet Managers, however, both are still dependent on the other to accomplish the mission of outfitting agency personnel, and ensuring that equipment is in working condition. Supporting this symbiotic relationship is crucial to agency operations, and providing tools that make the work easy for both people is the best practice that any agency can implement.
The Role of Kits Re-Examined
We’ve explained how the use of kit building for Quartermaster’s is a vital function to save labor, time, and to build an efficient operation for agency equipment and related issues. Now let’s take a moment to re-examine kit building and how that principle can be furthered into other facets of agency operations.
A patrol vehicle has standard equipment assigned to it throughout its life cycle in the agency. Some of that equipment is installed in the vehicle before it reaches your agency. Some of it is installed by agency personnel before it is assigned to operations. Some of it is placed or installed once someone is assigned, particularly if they have a specialty assignment, or if the vehicle is re-allocated for another type of operational assignment. The point is, some of this this equipment never leaves the vehicle until that vehicle is re-assigned to another part of your agency, and most of the equipment never leaves the vehicle until the vehicle’s time of service with your agency ends. So, in the interest of efficiency, alleviating some of the day-to-day workload of your Quartermaster, and ensuring that the person with best knowledge, your Fleet Manager, why not have all equipment within the vehicle be assigned to the vehicle as a kit? Why not make said equipment the purview of your Fleet Manager, with the Quartermaster having administrative control over purchases, verification of shipments, but the ability to assign overall responsibility to the Fleet Manager, so that they have full control of the vehicles, and all the assigned equipment?
This helps your budget process from a number of perspectives, chiefly. First, by placing vehicles and vehicle-oriented equipment in the total purview of your Fleet Manager, you segment those things a Quartermaster has to exercise daily control over. With that control comes inspections, fielding maintenance requests, troubleshooting issues with vendors, and so on. If your quartermaster is doing this with all pieces of equipment your agency has, then it’s a lot to manage. Removing those responsibilities, and transferring the day to day to your Fleet Manager means that some of the pressure is taken off your Quartermaster, but it also ensures that your Fleet Manager has complete control of the vehicle. This is the most appropriate set of tasks for each role, and empowers the Fleet Manager to enforce vehicle-related policy, but to also complete total inspections of all vehicles before, during, and after their lifecycle in your agency.
When equipment kits were designed, using them in this capacity was not originally considered, but the concept lends itself well to the scenario of vehicles. From prisoner partitions, to laptop mounts, to stop sticks, when items are assigned to the vehicle directly, and placed into a kit, it makes it that much easier to account for the equipment within the vehicle, and for the Fleet Manager to say exactly what they should be maintaining control over.
This also means that agency personnel will have a clear picture of who to go to for whatever their equipment needs will be, and vendors will know who to talk to, and so forth.
Accurate Vehicle Records
We’ve talked about defining roles, but what about the intent behind making a vehicle a kit? Certainly, grouping items in their likeliest form helps with assigning them quickly. But it also helps with maintaining an accurate record of the vehicle and its components, as well as it’s timeline. An example that happens all too often is when a criminal damages or breaks a prisoner partition. Sometimes the damage can be replaced with a single part swapped in for the damaged one. But sometimes the damage is done to a specific part or area that renders the entire partition useless. While the vehicle may be four years old at the time, the replacement partition entered into the vehicle is brand new. When this comes into play is when it’s time to retire the vehicle from service. The kit structure of all vehicle components will show that the partition still has a lot of life to give, and can be placed into a new vehicle, or be set aside as a replacement later down the road. And what’s more, if your asset management software has the capability of maintaining multiple timelines for individual items, is that while parts of a vehicle kit sit out of use, so long as regular inspections occur, those items can be incorporated into regular operational use at a later date, saving your agency from wasting money on equipment that was never fully realized by policy definition, and extends the life cycle of some equipment. This functionality could be yet another cost-saving tool that equals tens of thousands of dollars per budget cycle, and that’s a big number in the end game.
Asset management software needs to provide you the ability to parcel out responsibilities, while also ensuring that you get the most for your agency dollars. Making the use of kits whenever possible saves all involved time, and your agency money, while also documenting the truest condition of all working parts within your operation.
Be safe out there!