Equipment Uptime = Service Success

 OP CIVIL 01By Mark Wasilko

Providers of construction equipment, including OEMs and heavy machinery rental companies, are judged by their ability to provide continuous uptime, availability, and how quickly they can return an malfunctioning asset to service. That is why many companies offer guaranteed response times, same day repairs and proactive preventative maintenance programs. They understand that keeping their equipment running as much as possible is a critical differentiator in an industry where customers have a lot of choices.

That’s easier said than done, especially when one considers that, traditionally, repair and maintenance processes have been plagued by inefficiencies and a lack of useful, in-context, actionable information. For instance, when an asset malfunctions, construction teams may receive an alert that something is amiss, but that alert will often come without context or follow-up. There is no recommended plan of action. As such, everyone involved in the maintenance and operation of that equipment is left making educated guesses regarding the cause of the problem and how to execute the repairs required to get the asset up and running.

In addition to scrambling to find the cause of the problem, construction managers, repair specialists, manufacturers and others must often frantically share whatever information they do have in order to piece together the aforementioned repair plan. This means a great deal of phone calls and emails to discuss the problem, followed by the sending of spreadsheets or other forms of documentation. This tiresome back-and-forth can take more time than the actual repairs; indeed, research has shown that 84 percent of “repair time” is actually dedicated to coordination and communication, not turning a wrench.

To avoid these inefficiencies and keep their aggressive uptime commitments, equipment providers should adopt integrated and automated service management platforms to streamline their preventative maintenance and repair processes. Dispensing with traditional record keeping and paper trails in favor of an automated, software-driven process can improve every aspect of service management, from maintenance scheduling to record keeping to service updates and beyond. Teams can work together more efficiently to ensure that a malfunctioning asset is repaired in an expeditious manner, or be notified of impending scheduled maintenance events without having to resort to manual tracking.

Information Sharing

Being able to share and access complete information relevant to entire asset lifecycle is the key to making the repair and maintenance process more efficient than it currently is. An automated service management approach allows every member of an asset’s service supply chain to be able to easily share and receive pertinent information that can help maintain optimal uptime.

When a failure occurs, it is very important for all team members to have immediate access to the same relevant information. The entirety of an asset’s critical data – maintenance records, warranty information, schedules, and more – must be readily available to everyone involved in the care and maintenance of the asset. Allowing everyone (repair specialists, manufacturers, rental managers, site managers, and others) to access every bit of data creates a degree of transparency that improves collaboration and communication and therefore accelerates the repair process.

This information can come from multiple sources. Equipment providers can furnish relevant equipment information into the system, including machine usage hours and other critical data. However, since the system is integrated across the service and supply chain, information can also be collected from traditionally siloed systems (such as the warranty, parts, service bulletins, etc.), call centers and other formerly disparate sources.

Providing Context

Connected sensors also play a role. The alerts that they provide can automatically be fed into the system and their data merged with all of the other information that has been collected about the asset. This allows the system to provide context behind raw alert data (i.e., an engine alert) and turn that data into useful, actionable recommendations.

This provides significant benefits to field technicians. Remote workers have mobile access to all of the asset’s service and repair history, including service bulletins, repair instructions and parts availability, all of which is presented in context to provide actionable recommendations for the repair at-hand. This can be invaluable in expediting on-site repairs and increase the likelihood that a machine will be fixed right the first time.

The system can also enhance construction equipment providers’ efforts to maintain an effective, proactive preventative maintenance program. In addition to providing alerts whenever an asset’s service due date is approaching, the system can automatically generate recommended maintenance schedules based on asset’s typical usage and operational hours as well as other factors. Service incidents are also recorded as part of the asset’s preventative maintenance history and are available for future reference.

Don’t Fall Behind

Every construction project is based on complicated and often interdependent scheduling; when a piece of equipment fails on a jobsite, it can have a severe impact on schedules and budgets. Construction companies are fighting for every advantage, and whether they are renting or purchasing equipment, they expect their providers to keep their machines running.

For equipment providers, being able to meet these growing customer expectations means more than just maintaining excellent uptime for their backhoes, excavators, or other type of heavy machinery. It means staying ahead of the competition and keeping – and winning – customers. The ability to connect all the participants in the service supply chain from the manufacturer to dealer and field technicians to customer is the critical requirement for improved communication and more consistent, reliable service. Heavy equipment manufacturers that recognize this will enjoy a distinct competitive advantage.

Mark Wasilko is vice president of heavy equipment and industrial markets at Decisiv. He is a proven professional with experience in new software startups, tactical and strategic marketing, new market development, business development and sales and distribution and channel management.

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