Sarasota County Schools Find Partner to Reduce Item Consumption by 30%
April 1, 2021
By Blue Print Editorial Team
By Blue Print Editorial Team
Every day, the School Board of Sarasota County (SBSC) facilities maintenance department faces a twofold mission: (1) maintain a safe, productive environment for teachers and students across the county; and (2) 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.
“Something we follow very closely is the cost per square foot for maintenance and custodial,” said Jody Dumas, executive director of facilities planning and construction. “The lower we can drive those numbers, the more money is available for students in the classroom. So I’m very proud when we’re able to operate effectively and efficiently.”
GRADUATING TO A BETTER SUPPLY PROCESS
SBSC’s strategy for parts and supplies has 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.
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 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.”
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Jody Dumas | Executive Director of Facilities Planning and Construction
Responsibilities: maintenance and custodial operations along with long-range planning and construction
“For us, it’s a hands-off approach for parts and supplies. And that’s really what I wanted to have in the district – to have Fastenal come in, be integrated with our entire operation, and be able to get parts where we need them, when we need them, and how we need them. I’m a pretty demanding customer, so I asked that of them, and they’ve done a great job of doing that for us.”
"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."
Steve Clark | Facility Manager
Responsibilities: Zone 2 maintenance and custodial operations along with OSHA compliance for the department
“I’m at an on-the ground level at the zone, and I see the key things that Fastenal brings to us. Obviously cutting time and guys getting their parts is critical, and so is inventory tracking and control. But there are a lot of other support pieces Fastenal offers to us that I personally didn’t know about until we had a solid handshake partnership. Now they’re coming to us with ‘we can do this and that for you,’ sometimes at little to no cost. All of those things just help us to better serve our customers.”
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