Field Notes
U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service
Field Notes Entry   
A New Tool for the Old Tool Box.
Midwest Region, February 1, 2009
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Broken down trucks and boats are an unfortunate part of life at any field office.

Usually these mishaps are rare and relatively minor, but without routine maintenance and upkeep, those occasional small problems can quickly become routine catastrophes that cost the office thousands of dollars.  While Columbia NFWCO has always strived to keep up with maintenance, it has been a challenge tracking what maintenance has been done and what maintenance will be needed in the future.  Given the multiple trucks and boats a field office owns and a constantly rotating workforce of STEP students and seasonal help, keeping track of maintenance and repairs can be daunting. 


In the past, we have employed several different strategies for keeping maintenance records. These included written logs, maintenance books, and several different spreadsheets.  While this combination worked, it was also time consuming and not very user friendly, especially for new employees who were unfamiliar with the system.  What we needed was one-stop shopping for all our maintenance needs in a format that was efficient and relatively simple – enter the Maintenance Tracking System.  The Maintenance Tracking System (MTS) is an interactive Microsoft Excel program that allows us to keep track of completed maintenance, repair costs, and alerts us when routine maintenance is needed.  The program also contains links to repair manuals, schematics, informational web pages, and a host of other features.  Although MTS is based in Excel, it functions more like a web page, with links and drop down menus, so that even someone with little computer experience can be trained to use MTS within minutes. 


Exactly how does MTS work?  Once a week we enter the current mileage/hours of a truck or boat into MTS.  Based on the current miles/hours and current date, the program generates a message detailing what maintenance is needed.  If no message pops up, there is no routine maintenance needed.  However, when a maintenance message does pop up, the employee will perform and record the maintenance within MTS.  After the completed maintenance has been entered, the message will disappear and will only reappear when that maintenance is again needed.  All of this is accomplished on a single computer screen, and the information is automatically entered into a permanent record which also includes a running tally of maintenance and repair costs for each vehicle as well as an overall total.  Because accountability is also important, MTS provides supervisors with a quick and easy-to-use format to check-up on how vigilant employees have been with their routine maintenance. 


Although MTS is in its infancy, we are optimistic that it will be a valuable tool in helping maintain our equipment.  The MTS will allow for more efficient and accurate record keeping which will reduce labor and repair costs.


Colby Wrasse

Contact Info: Colby Wrasse, 573-234-2132 x30, colby_wrasse@fws.gov
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