First Choice Homes Oldham (FCHO) was created in April 2002 to manage council owned properties across Oldham Metropolitan Borough.
Today, it provides services to almost 13,000 council tenants and leaseholders and is responsible for managing, letting, repairing and modernising the borough council’s properties.
A not-for-profit partnership, FCHO is run by councillors, tenants and independent volunteers. A board of directors oversees the company’s overall strategic direction. Six local boards monitor day to day operations in six areas: Chadderton, East Oldham, Failsworth and Hollinwood, Royton and Shaw, Saddleworth and Lees, and West Oldham.
FCHO runs a mixed transport fleet, including 7.5-ton vehicles, small and medium-size vans, 3.5-ton flatbeds and box vans.
Property management company First Choice Homes Oldham (FCHO) chose Quartix vehicle tracking for its fleet after the system came top for price, quality and technical merit in a European public tendering exercise.
Quartix has equipped 85 FCHO vehicles with its award-winning tracking unit. And, in a separate development, FCHO commissioned Quartix to connect 17 of its older short-term hire vehicles to Quartix Pay As You Go, the flexible direct-rental tracking solution.
‘Jobs get done quicker’
‘FCHO manages council owned properties across Oldham Metropolitan Borough. David Thomas, repairs support manager, said: “We can identify where our vehicles are on-screen round the clock and, therefore, send the nearest and most appropriately skilled operatives to a job. “It means improved service and performance for our customers and jobs gets done quicker,” he explains.”
One of FCHO’s biggest problems – the amount of operatives’ down-time – has also been resolved.
“This is because the system has the capacity to ring-fence. For example, we can ring-fence a particular depot and that produces information on how long different operatives spend in the depot and, hopefully, why they’re doing that,” said Mr Thomas.
“We can identify every single depot where people are based and the amount of end time each operative has. Furthermore, all trades, from caretakers to security staff, operate our vehicles, and the system allows us to record any time they spend in specific areas.”
Although FCHO’s fleet comprises more than 100 vehicles, the number of authorised drivers vastly exceeds this figure. To identify who is driving at any given time, each of the tracking systems is equipped with a driver identification unit and each driver has been issued with an ID tag.
‘We can easily identify the driver’
“Basically we don’t have enough vehicles for every single operative. Sometimes a person will swap vehicles or if someone is on leave someone will use their vehicle. If any damage is done, or something like that, we can now easily identify the driver.”
All drivers are required to use their ID tag so that incidents – whether involving lone working, health and safety or other issues – can be quickly and accurately dealt with.
According to David Thomas the investment is paying dividends, and sometimes in unexpected ways: “I recently had a complaint from the public about one of my drivers. Fortunately, I was able to quickly identify both the vehicle and the driver involved in the alleged incident.”
Top marks in OJEU tendering process
Quartix was appointed by First Choice Homes Oldham after scoring top marks in the OJEU (Official Journal of the European Union) public tendering process. As part of the exercise applicants were asked to describe any additional benefits. Quartix put forward its pay-as-you-go solution, which permits tracking units to be removed after just three months and without penalty.
With FCHO operating 17 older vehicles on short-term hire, the suggestion was warmly received and the vehicles quickly connected to the PAYG service.
Quartix – first choice for First Choice
First Choice Homes Oldham decided to search for a new telematics supplier after its first system was unable to provide the information it required, and downloading proved an extremely lengthy process. A second system involved all data being downloaded onto laptops – which meant taking up to four hours to track just ten vehicles.