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Melbourne City Council Tracks Its Car Fleet

The council estimates that once fully deployed and integrated with its employee ID system, the EPC Gen 2 RFID vehicle-tracking system will reduce labor by at least 40 staff hours per month, resulting in an annual financial savings of up to $40,000.
By Dave Friedlos
Aug 18, 2008Melbourne's city council is planning to expand the use of passive ultrahigh-frequency (UHF) RFID system after a successful 12-month trial tracking fleet vehicles from its corporate parking lot. The council now wants to integrate vehicle RFID data with existing staff identification information, which is captured when employees use their RFID cards each time they enter or exit the parking lot. Once the two data sources are linked, the council will have a fully automated asset-management system.

For the past year, the council, responsible for the city's administration, has been testing the technology's ability to track vehicles as they enter and leave the parking lot to provide automated, accurate data regarding the movement of its vehicles. The system will replace the existing process of manually logging the fleet and its movements, which has been both time-consuming and inefficient.

When a driver stops at the security gate, the RFID tag on the dashboard is automatically read.
Brian Shanahan, chairman of the council's finance and governance committee, says the decision to adopt radio frequency identification for vehicle management was quite simple. "For a relatively modest outlay of approximately AU$12,000 [US$10,000], the technology offers some obvious efficiencies over the current manual system," he says. "Based on the current fleet of 85 vehicles, we anticipate the RFID system will result in a return on investment within the first couple of months once it is fully integrated and operational.

"We estimate RFID has the potential to improve efficiencies in fleet data collection and data quality by up to 90 percent," he adds, "saving at least 40 staff hours per month—a financial saving of up to AU$40,000 [US$35,000] per year."

Accurate data collection is essential, because different departments within the council are charged separate rates depending on the vehicle used. The collection of vehicle usage data has been very labor-intensive until now, Shanahan says, with daily usage sheets completed by the council staff each time a vehicle was used, and completed daily sheets manually entered into the fleet database to meet legislative and operational requirements.

"The RFID system provides accurate data collection of each vehicle entering and departing the car park," Shanahan says, "enabling the council to do away with manual records for asset-management keeping."

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