3-Part Series: A Modern Software Platform at RJV Construction
NOTE: This is the second in a three-part series on software technology at RJV Construction Corp. The article in the July issue of Construction Outlook covered estimating and field tracking, and the final article will cover electronic forms and reporting.
Dave Pacella, equipment manager at RJV Construction
Fleet maintenance and management for a utility contractor can be complex work, but Dave Pacella sums up the value of switching from paper processes to a specialized software solution quite simply.
“Downtime is the enemy,” says the equipment manager at RJV Construction Corp. “Maintenance software allows us to do more preventive work instead of unscheduled maintenance, which means less breakdowns, less downtime and less money.”
How much less money is significant. The average heavy construction contractor spends up to 15 percent of revenue on fleet maintenance, says Pacella, citing a common industry benchmark. He says RJV is at about eight percent, a figure he attributes to the strict preventive maintenance program.
Querino Pacella, vice president and estimator at RJV concurs. “Once we were using software for estimating and field tracking, the next step we wanted to focus on was how to better maintain our equipment,” he says. “We’re now able to stay on top of preventive maintenance, and repairs are being done more effectively and efficiently.”
Prior to adopting the maintenance software, RJV relied primarily on a paper and handwritten work orders to manage equipment maintenance. “The process was very cumbersome, and we were more reactive than proactive,” according to Dave Pacella. “As we added equipment to our fleet, we needed a more precise system to control what we were spending on a daily, monthly and yearly basis.”
RJV now sets up maintenance schedules within the software for each piece of equipment in its fleet, including instructions on what should be done at which interval and the parts required. Hours and mileage then prompt the system to notify the maintenance team when the intervals are approaching. That takes guess work out of daily operations and eliminates mistakes and missed intervals.
“Preventive maintenance for each asset is broken down into steps, so there is plan of action,” explains Dave Pacella. “In the past, it was easy to overlook things and end up doing things twice.” As an example, he points to checking the brakes every 4,000 miles on a dump truck. The maintenance software now remind mechanics that they also have to adjust the clutch and check the drive shaft at that maintenance interval.
Additional information on equipment utilization and status comes directly from telematics data and from daily equipment inspection forms, completed and submitted electronically.
Foremen or superintendents at RJV enter equipment hours and mileage through the field tracking module of their software platform. That data moves seamlessly to the maintenance module where it triggers preventive maintenance to be scheduled at the appropriate intervals. Additional information on equipment utilization and status comes directly from telematics data and from daily equipment inspection forms, completed and submitted electronically. Leaders in the field also use the field tracking module to communicate repair requests directly to the maintenance module for unplanned or unexpected maintenance work.
The automated, electronic process keeps data moving faster between the field and the shop. “We used to turn the equipment hours in from the field on paper,” explains Querino Pacella. “Now, we get information that’s more accurate and more timely. Our equipment manager can schedule things more efficiently and reduce downtime, which means more productivity on the job.”
“My voice mail used to fill up in the morning, and I would sometimes be juggling dozens of e-mails, texts and phone calls about equipment issues,” recalls Dave Pacella. “Now, everything goes into the software system. I can organize, prioritize and assign the work far more efficiently, and things don’t get missed.”
Digital photos and video clips are also a big help. Operators or managers in the field attach them to inspections and repair requests. They are then included with work orders, giving mechanics a visual description of what they need to do.
Having a complete view of upcoming maintenance requirements for the entire fleet at his fingertips pays big efficiency and uptime dividends, according to Dave Pacella. “If we’re working on a machine in the shop or in the field, we check upcoming preventive maintenance requirements and we might do them in advance,” he explains. “That’s more cost effective than taking it out of service a second time or sending a mechanic back out a few days or a week later.” Likewise, when a mechanic is sent to work on a machine, Pacella can see other equipment at the job site or in the vicinity and maximize efficiency by having the mechanic do preventive work on those machines as well.
The maintenance team at RJV is now equipped with iPads. That makes it easier to dispatch mechanics and to get work orders and other documentation into their hands. Mechanics can even bypass the office in the morning and instead go directly from their homes to jobsite assignments when that is more efficient.
“I would think anybody that has equipment in this industry should be using a maintenance software system,” Dave Pacella concludes. “I don’t know what we would do without it at this point, with the size of our company. We live and die by it.”