Chesapeake Public Schools in Virginia is in the process of moving to a more efficient and accountable

parts inventory management system.

The Sum of Its Parts

Inventory management systems hold much promise for school bus garages, not the least of which is a reduction in paperwork Written by Jim Romeo


avid Benson sits at his desk, a Blue Bird calen- dar hanging on the wall behind him. Above that is a framed illustration of “Peanuts” comic strip characters playing baseball and inscribed with

the words, “Teamwork always wins the game—no matter what the score!” Benson then works through another busy day of managing a fleet of 583 buses for the Chesapeake Public Schools in Virginia. Teamwork is seen everywhere outside of his office—

on the shop floor and in the nearby storeroom of spare parts, where exhaust piping, drive belts for Thomas Built Buses, cases of WD-40, brake shoes, and other supplies, are stacked and shelved. With just a few more tools and technology, his team could ratchet-up the capability to maintain, manage and move its fleet forward in the years ahead. While the Chesapeake Public Schools do not have a distinct parts inventory management system, the cur- rent paper-based parts management system, complete with established minimum and maximum levels that are regularly replenished, works. But like many of his con- temporaries, Benson sees possible ways to build better efficiency and accountability into his department’s parts management requirements.

20 School Transportation News • FEBRUARY 2020 School bus parts inventory management systems are

now making their way into many districts—as stand- alone systems or a part of larger fleet maintenance systems. These systems feature many benefits for shop forepersons, fleet managers, mechanics, and just about everyone else who is tasked with the maintenance and management of moving the fleet forward. Benson said Chesapeake is in the process of changing

its parts management processes, and it plans to soon implement an inventory management system. “We’re negotiating now,” explained Benson. “Our’s is going to be a little bit different, because we’re going to be with a different vendor for our parts management than the rest of the school division, [which will continue with its existing] asset management.” The district will have certain parts linked to a warranty,

Benson noted, based on mileage and time, as well as oth- er considerations. “So, we are in the process of getting a fleet management software program that will assist us better with that because we currently don’t have one,” he continued. “But that is something that we’ve needed. And that’s something that the school division is working on getting now.” Parts inventory management offers many benefits

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