Tacoma Public Utilities Success Story
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Tacoma Public Utilities

Public Utility

Publicly owned since 1893, Tacoma Public Utilities provides safe, clean drinking water and electricity to more than 200,000 customers in Washington, as well as owns and operates a small line railroad.
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TPU Case Study

Tacoma Public Utilities

Saves money, increases safety with GPS technology

Business Challenge

Tacoma Public Utilities (TPU) manages approximately 1,300 pieces of equipment, including heavy construction equipment, specially outfitted trucks, and boats. TPU uses GPS Insight tracking devices on 500 of those vehicles and assets to monitor their fleet.

They needed a telematics solution that could work in the very remote areas of Washington with little cell coverage, to increase driver safety and determine which crew could reach a problem or service area the quickest. In addition, TPU was looking to find a smarter, faster way to deploy repair and maintenance technicians—especially when there’s a power disruption.

When a TPU truck unexpectedly went missing, they also needed a way to quickly recover the lost vehicle and avoid similar issues in the future.

The Solution

By using GPS Insight, TPU was able to solve their problems. They now could:

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Overlay GPS data with power distribution mapping data to find the quickest way for a crew to get to a power issue
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Maintain contact with drivers and vehicles, even in the most remote mountain areas
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Pull information from vehicles with daily reports on energy usage, to prepare for future requirements
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Use GPS data to quickly track stolen vehicles before serious damage occurred

The Results

With all the data GPS tracking provides, TPU power managers can take real-time vehicle location data and overlay it with a grid map of their power distribution. If there’s a power interruption, managers can see what crew is closest and dispatch them to quickly go see if it’s a transformer—or just a squirrel.

TPU works with Green River Watershed inspectors, who patrol 147,290 acres of remote, off-road land. Due in part to an incident where a driver slid off the road, rolled his truck, and had to walk out due to no communication, they now use GPS Insight to maintain constant contact and increase driver safety.

We entered the relationship with very little or no knowledge of what telematics is and what telematics can do. It’s been a benefit to learn as we go, and a great partnership… it comes down to the personnel working together with us to make sure we’re taken care of.
Don Ashmore

Fleet Manager, Tacoma Public Utilities

With the increasing energy requirements and plans to incorporate alternative energy-fueled vehicles into its fleet over time, TPU is also using GPS Insight data to generate reports to understand how solutions like electric and hybrid vehicles will impact fleet operations in the future.

When a fleet pickup truck was discovered missing, TPU went straight to GPS Insight. Due to the mapping, real-time, and history data collected, they knew the truck had been stolen, driven to a hospital, and then parked at a residence. They easily located the vehicle and turned over all their information to the police. Unfortunately, this wasn’t the first time a vehicle had been stolen, but TPU was able to use GPS tracking data each time to quickly recover the vehicles.

We’re very thankful we have the data. It promotes the use of telematics, because it helps when I sit in front of executives and start talking about the cost and some of the values of having telematics in our fleet – being able to recover vehicles would be one of the pros.
Don Ashmore

Fleet Manager, Tacoma Public Utilities

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