A technology purchase is expected to help one county department continue its essential services.

The Franklin County Emergency Medical Service has requested the Franklin County Board of Commissioners approve a purchase of a vehicle monitoring system for five of the department’s vehicles. This system, Nick Robbins said, would allow the department to be more efficient by ensuring vehicle maintenance schedules are followed properly.

“We can keep track of how much we spend on each truck, set parameters on oil changes, tire rotations and transmission services,” the EMS director said. “We can track it on the computer.”

The original start-up cost of the monitoring system is $1,995, but with an expected 5-percent discount, Robbins said, the system should cost $1,895 initially. After the first year, there would be a $24 charge per transmitter each year for upgrades and support.

The system, developed by Fleetio, would allow the department to monitor each trip the ambulance takes, recording specifics about the trips like idle time, trip fuel mileage and driver behavior. A small censor plugs into the computer port under the dashboard of the vehicle and wirelessly transmits data when it comes within 150 feet of a receiver. The information would be invaluable to determine maintenance schedules, Robbins said.

“The thing that we have run into is we’ve been trying to figure out how we can monitor oil changes on actual idle hours,” Robbins said. “This would allow us to track the actual idle hours.”

The department now uses a Fleetio system, but it can only record drive time hours by inputting the mileage on a spreadsheet, Robbins said. The system upgrade would allow information to be recorded automatically, reducing staff time and chance of error. In comparing other systems to the Fleetio product, Robbins said, Fleetio is the best because it records all the information the department needs.

The new system would allow Robbins and his staff to get a printout of the data collected to compare what vehicles are being driven differently. In addition, the system would track when a vehicle is showing a warning light, enabling the department to get it fixed quicker, he said.

The addition of the system to the ambulance department, Robbins said, would be part of the department’s ongoing effort to improve fleet maintenance, which would save the department valuable time and resources.

“I think being able to monitor driving conditions, being able to look at how many hours we’re putting on these trucks, idling, will pretty much wrap up the vehicle maintenance plan,” Robbins told the board in his presentation of the system.

The purchase request has been put on the agenda for the board’s regular meeting at 8:30 a.m. Wednesday in commission chambers, 1428 S. Main St., Ottawa, and is expected to be voted on at that time.