Every day, the School Board of Sarasota County (SBSC) facilities maintenance department faces a twofold mission: maintain a safe, productive environment for teachers and students across the county; and do the job as efficiently and effectively as possible, keeping finite resources focused on the #1 priority – students learning. With more than 50 educational sites and five maintenance facilities spread out over multiple geographic zones, this is no small feat. It requires daily communication with principals and custodians, careful planning to optimize labor resources, and a well-orchestrated supply chain to make sure technicians have the right parts when and where they need them for each job.
Better Supply Process
SBSC’s strategy for parts and supplies have become increasingly efficient over time. Years ago, the individual facilities managers were responsible for purchasing – a decentralized, low-bid process that led to overbuying, excessive travel time for technicians, and a lack of engagement from non-strategic, often remote suppliers. They took a step forward when they brought in an outside supplier to run a centralized crib, but the role of the supplier’s onsite representative was limited to placing web orders on their behalf. Processes were still manual, SBSC still owned the inventory, and they still had to handle and distribute the product themselves. Those gaps were filled when they partnered with Fastenal, which today oversees the flow of supplies across the district. The program is centered on an onsite Fastenal branch located within SBSC’s Zone 2 maintenance facility. Two full-time Fastenal employees manage roughly $150,000 worth of consigned onsite inventory, fulfill daily requests from the field (including sourcing specialty items when needed), and make daily deliveries to multiple buildings.
Elements of Efficiency
The onsite branch is home to $150k worth of consigned inventory and two full-time Fastenal employees, enabling the SBSC maintenance team to step away from inventory management and focus on repairs. Through the B2B integration vending transactions and web orders automatically flow to SBSC’s electronic work order system, tying every product to a specific project. Safety support provides expert consultation while taking on the heavy lifting of labor-intensive projects like ladder inspections. With vending solutions, technicians are able to self-serve supplies via all five maintenance facilities. Cloud-based software tracks usage by individual and work order while providing a live view of current inventory levels. Finally, SBSC was able to implement Fastenal’s onsite inventory management program without having to re-solicit a contract for these services by utilizing Fastenal's cooperative contract available through OMNIA Partners. OMNIA Partners cooperative contracts are already competitively solicited and fulfilled SBSC’s procurement policies, allowing for quick implementation.
Eliminating Paperwork and Travel Time
According to Jody Dumas, one of the department’s key goals for parts and supplies was to eliminate paperwork. Another was to cut down on “windshield time" for technicians – a major drain on productivity in a sprawling district where a missing part might mean a two-hour drive. To support those goals, Fastenal worked with SBSC to customize vending solutions for all five maintenance facilities, enabling technicians to dispense high-use parts and tools in the field rather than driving to a remote warehouse. To access a product, a technician swipes his or her security badge and enters a work order number, tying each item to a person and project. Behind the scenes, Fastenal’s I.T. department worked to electronically integrate the company’s vending and e-commerce systems with SBSC’s Archibus work order system. As a result, every time a technician vends a product or places an online order with the onsite Fastenal branch, that cost is automatically reflected in the appropriate work order. “There’s nobody punching data, there’s nobody sitting there wasting that time,” said Jody. “It’s all seamless and electronic, and that’s what we really wanted to focus on. I think our business processes behind the delivery of the parts is really set up well.”
Stepping Up with Safety Support
Another way SBSC has leveraged the partnership is by consulting with Fastenal’s regional safety specialist, David Gossett, QSSP, to eliminate risks and drive OSHA compliance. The biggest project to date was when David and Ray Rodriguez, another Fastenal safety specialist from north of Sarasota, spread out and inspected more than 300 ladders throughout the county. That included providing missing labeling (indicating the proper load and usage) and removing ladders from service for repair or replacement when necessary. It was a welcome addition of labor and expertise for Steve Clark, who in addition to managing the Zone 2 maintenance operation serves as the department’s one-man occupational safety resource. “In three days, the Fastenal safety specialists inspected hundreds of ladders for us as part of our partnership,” said Steve. “This was a huge benefit to me and the entire school district. We couldn’t have accomplished on our own what Fastenal did in the short turnaround time and with the expert effectiveness they brought to us.”
Jody Dumas explains the significance of the Fastenal cooperative contract available through OMNIA Partners, Public Sector in this way:
“At the end of the day, what’s important for us is making sure our customers and students are taken care of. But another important piece is taxpayer money. Community members are always asking us to run the school district like a business. Well, we are running it like a business. We focus on what we do best, and we bring in partners like Fastenal to do what they do best – efficiently distributing parts and supplies so we can make repairs at a very low cost.”
SBSC was able to implement Fastenal’s onsite inventory management program and realize deeper savings by utilizing Fastenal's competitively solicited and publicly awarded cooperative contract, available through OMNIA Partners. For full contract documentation, please visit www.omniapartners.com/publicsector.