Contractor Solves Engine-Hour Under-Reporting and Cuts Cycle Times

Situation

  • Construction company faces systemic under-reporting of engine-hours and production cycle-time challenges

Solution

  • GlobalTRACS equipment management system

Results

  • Dramatic improvement in accuracy of engine-hours reporting
  • Reduction in quarry cycle times
  • Increased cycle-time consistency
  • Increased worker productivity
  • More accurate bid estimates

The GlobalTRACS equipment management system enables the Rogers Group, Inc. to resolve a systemic under-reporting of engine hours while improving production cycle times. As a result, billable hours and job productivity are dramatically up.

For years, Director of Equipment Operations Cameron Druyor suspected under-reporting of engine hours at the Rogers Group, Inc., a Tennessee-based contractor and the nation's largest privately owned producer of crushed stone.

He also believed that human error was the source of the problem and that the company was underestimating costs when bidding on new projects as a result. By the fall of 2005, Druyor had completed an evaluation of five wireless equipment-monitoring products and selected QUALCOMM's GlobalTRACS system as the most versatile. "It kept coming back to product durability," said Druyer, "and the strength and market presence of QUALCOMM."

In 2006, the Rogers Group installed the GlobalTRACS system on 13 pieces of equipment to test its capabilities. Several months into the trial, the data confirmed Druyor's suspicions: manual under-reporting of engine hours was significant. "In some cases we had a 50% variance compared to what we thought we were putting on these machines," he said.

Success Leads to Unexpected Diversion
When Druyor presented his findings to executives, however, his plans to install more GlobalTRACS units faced another test. A separate group in the company had been using a competing equipment monitoring product to conduct Six Sigma (business-improvement) studies to reduce production cycle times at the company's 50 rock quarries. Cycle time is a measure of the amount of time that a 50- to 100- ton haul truck requires to transport rock from a quarry pit to a crusher and return for another load. According to Druyor, "It is critical to make that process as efficient as possible." Consequently, the two equipment-monitoring solutions were carefully evaluated.

Data Integration Puts GlobalTRACS on Top-Again
The GlobalTRACS system was selected once again-this time because QUALCOMM worked with a third-party software developer to download the GlobalTRACS data directly to a server for processing by the company's operating system. As a result, on-site managers never had to leave their in-house system to monitor cycle times. Each morning, they graphed the previous day's results for each piece of machinery. They also identified an average cycle time that was used to measure the productivity of each employee. For the remainder of 2006, the new system proved itself in the field; production cycle times decreased and became more consistent. "By displaying graphs of the previous day's cycle times," said Druyor, "our drivers were able to judge how they performed in relation to our established baseline and to each other.

In some cases, we had an increase of 100 to 150 tons per hour produced per quarry without adding equipment or working additional hours. In fact, one quarry was able to go from a five day to a four-day production week and still easily meet its quota."

Bigger Impact in the Future
By 2007, the Rogers Group purchased more GlobalTRACS units for the Six Sigma studies, and Druyor returned to his original project of installing GlobalTRACS units to track engine hours. He also looks forward to incorporating fuel monitoring and alerts for maintenance-related machinery defects.

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