A colleague recently sent me a link to a great source of heavy equipment information–http://www.equipmentworld.com/caterpillar analytics. This and several included articles discussed Caterpillar’s new move towards analytic software to better predict routine service and overall equipment performance. There is little doubt that all equipment benefits from a program of routine and preventative maintenance. Taking charge of routine maintenance will always decrease the need for emergency maintenance.
I though it was interesting that the same online source had a section dedicated to the changing workforce in this field. In other words, discussing equipment scheduling, up time, efficiency, and ROI of equipment, the publication lamented about the aging and decreasing pool of qualified candidates for performing this type of work. Although there are fundamental differences between how equipment is managed as opposed to a field workforce, fundamentally they have the same goal. Increase productivity and best utilize resources available. Before we ask the question if the labor pool is shrinking, shouldn’t we first ask if we are using the existing workforce efficiently?
Effort being made in the equipment analytics field would be much more effective if it also combined analytics about field service. For example, field management software will tell you what parts to replace and at what interval. it may also estimate the time required to repair. To truly understand the cost of maintaining equipment and it’s impact on efficiency requires more information. How long did it take to effect repairs? How far does a tech have to travel to complete the repairs. Does it make sense to combine several repairs even if they are not required due to the travel time?
The answer is complicated and it is as much about equipment as it is about manpower, scheduling, and parts inventory. Equipment manufacturers, dealers, and customers would benefit from programs that take into account the big picture. Equipment and service management software must combined, or at least merged to provide true analysis of ROI.
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