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Higher Utilization – Lower Costs
Leveraging Technology to Drive a More Connected Approach to Fleet Maintenance and Management
Greg Norris, B2W Software
January 12, 2018 - With heavy construction projects getting larger and more complex, and margin and competitive pressures intensifying, contractors that continue to rely on fragmented offline solutions to manage equipment related workflows are finding themselves at a disadvantage. A more holistic and connected approach to fleet maintenance and management holds the key to increasing uptime and decreasing maintenance costs.
There is no doubt that preventive maintenance saves money and increases both availability and performance. Contractors face a triple threat when they do too much maintenance work in a reactive mode, responding when assets break down. Repairs are more costly, asset utilization goes down, and they are forced to own or rent additional equipment.
Specialized maintenance software is essential to an effective program and especially to automating preventive maintenance. A centralized database puts documentation, maintenance history, warranty information and other equipment-related information in one place. The software also drives preventive maintenance, alerting the maintenance team as to when work should be done.
Specialized software also automates and optimizes the workflow. Repair requests and work orders can be initiated and processed electronically, providing real-time visibility and allowing work to be planned, scheduled and executed with maximum efficiency.
Finally, maintenance software expands reporting and analytics. Work orders and asset status can be tracked along with KPIs like percentage of revenue spent on maintenance, planned vs. unplanned maintenance, preventive vs. corrective work and more. The data helps companies make decisions about processes, scheduling, staffing and asset replacement strategies.
While maintenance software is critical, it is important to recognize that maximizing the utilization of assets and reducing ownership and maintenance costs are not solely functions of the maintenance department. Coordination with the scheduling, dispatching and field management workflows is essential.
When each function relies on its own, isolated systems and processes, efficiency and profitability suffer. A foreman hordes idle equipment in case it might be needed on a site, preventing it from being utilized elsewhere. A dispatcher assigns an equipment move without realizing the asset is down for maintenance. A mechanic travels to a job site to repair a machine then travels to the same site a day or two later to do preventive work on another machine instead of doing both jobs during one visit. The list of potential process breakdowns goes on and on.
Industry leaders instead leverage mobile capabilities and cohesive maintenance, scheduling and tracking technology to keep everyone on the same page and empowered with real-time information. An optimal software platform allows managers in the field to see the schedule and to make needs requests and repair requests directly to the scheduling and maintenance systems. Likewise, schedulers and dispatchers can make the most effective and efficient decisions when they can monitor the constantly changing status of assets and requirements from the field in real time.
The explosion of Telematics and GPS capabilities over the past decade has given construction companies a wealth of data delivered directly and automatically from the fleet. The challenge now is to aggregate and analyze that data and turn it into intelligence that can increase uptime and cut overall equipment costs.
Again, an effective software platform is essential. Maintenance software can import telematics data and use it to trigger preventive maintenance requests automatically. The ability to incorporate GPS data improves the efficiency of maintenance scheduling. A mechanic that goes out to complete a work order can see not only what other equipment is nearby, but also whether any of that equipment has upcoming maintenance requirements. GPS tracking is also imperative for modern scheduling and dispatching, removing any doubts as to exactly where a piece of equipment is at a given time.
Not much happens in heavy construction without heavy equipment, and how contractors manage and maintain their fleets has a major impact on the bottom line. Industry leaders maximize utilization and hold maintenance costs to around 5% of total revenue.
Mobile capabilities and cohesive maintenance, scheduling and tracking technology are emerging as key assets for these leaders. An effective software platform for operations allows them to drive preventive maintenance programs, gain real-time visibility into the status and performance of equipment and connect the field, the shop and the office to get the right resources to the right place at the right time.
Map and GPS functionality is a vital advantage of an effective software platform, telling contractors exactly where equipment is and allowing them to schedule maintenance work and assignments with maximum efficiency.
Mobile technology and a cohesive software platform for equipment maintenance, field management, and scheduling and dispatching allow contractors to work collaboratively in real time to maximize uptime and minimize maintenance costs.