Resource Revolution: Optimizing Your Workforce

Resource Revolution: Optimizing Your Workforce

Guest writer Dale Hanna takes a look at the year ahead and all of its challenges in “Resource Revolution: Optimizing Your Workforce.”

As the calendar turns to 2024, the landscape of the construction industry reflects an ongoing challenge — a significant labor shortage. In an era where leaders face the daily job of doing more with less, embracing technology to help efficiently manage business has become essential. This pivot is not a fad but an important adaptation for the progress of this industry.

Doing More with Less

Imagine a world where the scope of technology ignores traditional boundaries! In this digitally transformed landscape, software applications take control of scheduling service work orders and analyzing digital inspections. Simultaneously, IoT-enabled devices provide real-time insights on equipment idle time, utilization, and maintenance alerts. This integration of technology automates the repetitive tasks — freeing up human skills to make a bigger impact by building customer relationships and taking on strategic initiatives. In the face of labor shortages, digital transformation creates an environment of higher efficiency beyond just filling the gaps — it enhances the productivity of the whole team. As we stride into the next phase, artificial intelligence is making vital information more accessible, transcending language, and erasing geographical and environmental limitations. 

Talent of Tomorrow

Now imagine a world with fluid interactions between personnel and their digital counterparts. A world where your team can communicate directly with machines in the field – in their language of choice. It’s as simple as pushing a button and asking for the information they need about their bulldozers, excavators, truckstrucks, and other equipment. With the integration of advanced AI in daily operations, the heavy equipment industry is not just solving today’s challenges — it’s preparing for the future. By showcasing a commitment to tech-driven growth, companies are positioning themselves as attractive workplaces for a new generation of skilled workers.

Data at the Forefront

The success of any business hinges on the quality of data that drives decision-making. As leaders look towards a future shaped by efficiency, ensuring the integrity of this data is critical. Clean, precise data helps optimize fleet efficiency and asset management, becoming the bedrock of strategic planning. In the quest for operational excellence, accurate data — when made easy to use and access  —access — eliminates inefficiencies and waste, ensuring that resources are deployed effectively. Companies at the industry’s leading edge understand that robust data analysis is key to staying ahead. In the current climate of labor shortages and economic pressure, AI and technology stand as pillars of innovation and adaptability. These tools empower the equipment industry to overcome today’s trials and march confidently into a future of sustainable growth and innovation.

The race is on. Is your business equipped with the right tools for tomorrow?

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Preventative Maintenance Agreements: A Great Thing Deserves Great Execution

Preventative Maintenance Agreements: A Great Thing Deserves Great Execution

Guest writer Dale Hanna continues his writing on preventative maintenance with this week’s blog post – “Preventative Maintenance Agreements: A Great Thing Deserves Great Execution.”

In our last blog, Preventative Maintenance Agreements – A Necessary Hero, we spoke about the important contributions PM agreements can make to dealer bottom line.  They can drive high quality revenue, income and customer satisfaction.

They key word is “can”.  As with all great things, they are only as good as the execution.  In this blog, we will focus on four areas of PM agreements and how we might increase the efficiency we deliver the services to our customers.  This has always been vital, and especially now with the significant labor shortage.

Do Not Miss a PM Service and Do Not Lose Sleep Over It

There is nothing more stressful than missing a PM service on a customer’s machine under a PM agreement.  There is nothing more annoying than trying to call customer multiple times to get the hour reading.  How do we do better?

For newer machines, more and more of them are coming with factory installed telematics devices.  Factories provide software system that can usually alert you about PM coming due or past due.  The common problem here is when you have PM agreements on multiple brands.  Each factory system works differently, and you will likely need to log into multiple different systems.  Through a technology called API (Application Programming Interface), computers can talk with each other.  Most factory systems offer APIs for you to use.  If you have the right software system, hours, and other information, from all the brands you carry can flow into one system and all assets can be managed the same way.

How about the machines that do not come with factory installed telematics devices.  Aftermarket devices are available, and the data can flow into the same aggregating system mentioned above.  The cost of the aftermarket system is low comparing to the cost of doing everything manually.

Now you have all the PM information in one place, issuing alerts, and potentially managing workorders from one system, will drastically increase your efficiency.

 Fault Codes, When It Rains, It Pours

Fault codes are great, they give us valuable information to keep the machines from suffering major failures.   The three common problems are there are too many fault codes to be handled manually, some of the fault codes are not useful but take up bandwidth, and the formats are different from different manufactures. 

Here are what some of the tech savvy dealers are doing to maximize the benefit efficiently.

  1. Using APIs to get all the fault codes from different manufactures into one place.
  2. Translate the different priority systems from different manufactures into a unified system, such as Red, Yellow, Green, Gray or 1,2,3,4.
  3. Map the messages into the same format.
  4. Triage the codes efficiently using knowledgebase,
  5. Create workorders immediately or with a PM workorder based on severity and usage.

Inspections, You Can’t Fix What You Do Not Know 

Fault codes can’t tell you everything that can go wrong with a machine.  For example, they can’t tell you a belt is about to break, or a hose is about to leak. 

Inspections fill in the gap.  To do so efficiently, the inspections need to be electronic instead of paper based.  Paper inspections can days to get to the office.  They can be hard to read, and it will be hard to attach pictures and videos.  As the saying goes, a picture is worth a thousand words. 

Electronic inspection results, including pictures and videos, show up in the office real time as long as there is Wi-Fi or cell connection.  SN or VIN can be scanned in accurately and linked to customers stock unit ID. 

With an all-in-one system, the inspection results can be viewed and managed with PM’s and fault codes.  Workorders can be issued to handle one, some or all the problems.  The addressed and unaddressed problems are always tracked so the status is clear, and nothing is forgotten. 

The Devil Is in the Fluids 

The last piece of the puzzle is fluid analysis.  As we all know, it is a requirement for most warranty to be valid. 

Fluid analysis results are still predominated delivered via lab’s own websites or through PDF’s.  One of the biggest complaints we hear in the field is that the information is hard to aggregate and use efficiently, even though the information itself is very useful. 

As the world moves forward, more and more labs are offering APIs, just like how other information, such as fault codes, hours, etc. are delivered.  Again, we can use the same all-in-one system to aggregate the fluid analysis data with PM alerts, fault codes, electronic inspection.  This way, PM agreements can be managed well, and other services can be delivered efficiently and giving customers the best experience possible.  A triple win for you. 

PM agreements are a necessary hero to drive high quality revenue and customer satisfaction.  It will only work well if it is executed well.  The only way to do so in today’s labor shortage and data explosion world is to leverage the right technology.

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Preventative Maintenance

Preventative Maintenance

This week, our guest writer Dale Hanna delivers another powerful blog post, this time on the multiple benefits of preventative maintenance.

Service revenue has been the most important contributor to the bottom line for many dealers.  When a strong demand for equipment coupled with a shortage of new equipment, service becomes even more important.  That is the world we live in today.

Preventative Maintenance Contracts – A Necessary Hero

PM contracts/agreements is a part of the services provided and has its unique importance.  In this two-part series, I would like to discuss the impact of PM contracts/agreements we do not usually think about, and, in the next blog, how to leverage technology to maximize the value of PM contracts/agreements.

Not All Revenues Are Created Equal

The valuations of software companies have increased substantially.  In recent years, the driving force has been the introduction of SaaS (Software as a Service).  The secret sauce here is the recognition that not all revenues are created equal.  The differentiator is the predictability of revenue.  Predictable revenue is worth multiple times more than the revenue that has to be earned in the future.

PM contracts/agreements make this portion of the service revenue predictable, not to mention that it also makes your connection to your customers predictable.

It actually gets better from here.  One of the biggest problems in any service organization comes from the reactive nature.  In the break/fix world, service work can be feast-or-famine.  We do not know what will break today and it can be very hard to balance the workload and keep the customers happy.  By comparison, we have flexibility in performing PM contracts/agreements/agreements.  As long as we stay in the acceptable range, we have the leeway in determining when the work will be done.  This will increase technician efficiency, technician job satisfaction, and overall Service department profitability.

PM contracts/agreements generate revenue, and the unique nature of PM contracts/agreements make this revenue better in more ways than one.

 It Is Not Just the Revenue from PM Contracts/agreements

The revenue generated by the PM contracts/agreements should never be limited to the PM’s.  With the right strategy and tools, a machine monitor specialist can generate more than $5,000,000 service revenue in year.

When we combine fault code monitoring, preventative maintenance, inspection and fluid analysis (commonly known as condition monitoring), we are in a position to create high valued, pro-active service opportunities for our customers.  In the end, it is the uptime without drama that is the holy grill.

Fault codes are available on many new machines.  More manufactures are providing fault codes for their machines, and, with each introduction of new models, more fault codes also become available every day.  Not all fault codes have the same level of urgency, many can be addressed at the time of PM services with parts pre-ordered and enough time scheduled.  If you sell and service multiple lines, fault codes may not come in the same format from different manufactures.  This can be daunting to manage manually but effectively handled by the proper applications to keep your machine monitor specialist working efficiently.

Inspections are critical.  With electronic inspections, problems discovered can be transmitted real time and organized by priorities.  Pictures and videos in modern electronic inspection apps increase communication efficiency dramatically.  Many problems found during inspection can also be scheduled to be addressed during the next PM service.  

Fluid analysis reports are vital.  The challenge is to be able to take the right actions, especially if you are watching over hundreds, thousands or even tens of thousands of machines.  Reading one report at a time will not come close to getting the job done.  Luckily, more and more labs are starting to provide API’s (Application Programming Interface) to deliver the fluid analysis data to their customers.  API’s (Application Programming Interface) are ways for your computer to talk with the lab’ computer the get fluid analysis data electronically.  The data received in this form can be stored in organized databases to be used easily.  

We can have all the fault codes, PM service alerts, findings from inspections and fluid analysis in one place to efficiently service our customers in a pro-active and effective way.  These are not just revenue opportunities beyond PMs, but planned revenue opportunities beyond PMs, a higher valued revenue.  

When You Change the Game in Customer Experience

If we look one step further, how do we increase market share in today’s competitive environment?  While the advancements in machines are amazing and will continue to be, dealers are noticing brand differentiation becoming more and more of a challenge.  We see the battle of the future being fought on customer experience.

What defines the core of customer experience when there is more work than people?  To help customers increase uptime at a reasonable cost.  Whoever can do this the best will have the strategic advantage.  How do we deliver the best customer experience based on this definition?  The PM contracts/agreements might just be the right area to focus on.

PM contracts/agreements, like anything else, will not solve all the problems, but it is a necessary hero to drive high quality revenue and customer satisfaction.

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The Hidden Revolution in the Equipment Industry

The Hidden Revolution in the Equipment Industry

With 20+ years of business system design and business intelligence experience, Dale Hanna founded Foresight Intelligence in 2009 to help leading equipment dealers achieve operational excellence and a sustainable competitive advantage through effective use of real time KPI’s throughout the organization. Recently, Dale has added telematics to his passion and is enjoying the challenge of making oceans of disparate data useful to manufactures, dealers, rental companies, and end customers.  Dale obtained a BSEE degree in Electrical Engineering from Cornell University and has been engaged in many associations serving the equipment industry. In his first guest blog for Learning Without Scars, Dale writes about the hidden revolution taking place in the equipment industry.

Technology is driving a revolution in the equipment industry that we can easily see: grade control, idle tracking, fault codes, autonomous equipment, electrification, etc. While the advancements are amazing and will continue to be, dealers are noticing brand differentiation becoming more and more of a challenge. In this margin-conscious market, we see the battle of the future being fought on customer experience and we see technology is quietly but rapidly driving that revolution.

This hidden revolution is happening in all areas of dealership operations.  Today we focus on how technology is increasing efficiency and enhancing customer experience in the service area, especially during this time of unprecedented labor and parts shortage.

Below are strategies that are giving some equipment dealers a leg up:

 Increasing Trust from Your Customers

We all know trust is a vital ingredient in delivering a great customer experience.  If you are like me, I used to think building trust was an elusive and subjective endeavor.  Chris Voss, a lead FBI hostage negotiator, gave us a formula to build trust quickly and predictably:

Trust = Predictability.

A system that can be configured to your workflow to automatically notify customers at key milestones creates a predictable service experience every time without adding more work for your people.  Yes, UPS and FedEx have perfected this.  You know exactly where your packages are all the time and the moment they are delivered.  It is hard to imagine any shipping company being able to survive without it.  Our expectations for the service experience are quickly reaching the same level.

Doing Business at the Speed of Text

When we do not get an email response from someone, what do we do? We text. According to a research report, on average, people respond to a text in 90 seconds and an email in about 90 minutes.  Adding an integrated SMS (text) platform is like adding nitrous to your service engine.  A fully integrated text platform notifies your customers of progress, provides new quotes, gets instant sign off for additional work, shares inspection results and obtains satisfaction survey results at lightning speed. All the communication history is saved for future reference. With the busy schedule your customers have, who would not appreciate a faster ride?

Self Service Makes Happier Customers

The pandemic has accelerated a trend that was already happening – we want to do more things online, by ourselves, at whatever hours we want, without having to wait on anyone.  Providing information your customers need, in the forms they need, always accessible makes them feel informed and in control, both are important elements for happiness.  A robust dashboard, easy to use interface, searchable/sortable/exportable data and schedulable reports keep your customers smiling while your people sleep.

Have Your Process Your Way

A lot of service systems were built based on someone else’s ideas, usually from the first few customers the system makers had. Your workflow is what makes your people efficient, and your organization stand out. Today’s technology allows an effective system to adapt to you rather than the other way around. Dynamic dashboards by user and role, quick and easy work order assignment and tracking, Apps for field technicians to easily add comments, pictures/videos, inspections can be required and enforced as a part of your workorder process are all examples of how today’s systems serve you the way you do business.

We Are More Powerful When We Are Connected

So are data and systems. At dealerships, we still use multiple systems to get things done. The last thing we want to add is another siloed system. Any service system today should connect with your OEM system for fault codes, warranty information and even submission, your telematics system for real time dispatching, customer’s telematics system for asset location and hours, maintenance management system to organize all the maintenance plans you sold and your business system for cost and PO information. The more your systems are connected, the more efficient you become.

The current pandemic will end for sure, but our world has changed forever. If we look at carefully, there is an undeniable trend – tech rich companies have done better in general, some has done exceptionally well and taken sizeable market share from competitors during COVID 19. This trend is definitely here to stay. Technology is not only changing things we can see and buy, but it is also changing the way we perform and experience service. Customers will certainly buy more equipment, especially with the new infrastructure bill, and whoever delivers the best customer experience will have the bigger share.

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