Kannapolis, NC-based Wayne Brothers Construction is a 27-year-old commercial and industrial concrete contractor that also performs grading and site development work. It employs 350 and owns a fleet of approximately 600 pieces of equipment ranging from small electric and gas tools to trowels and on-road vehicles. This includes approximately 40 pieces of yellow iron.
The company had its first experience with telematics systems in February when it purchased a new Caterpillar D6N dozer, equipped with Product Link, from Carolina Tractor. “Probably the biggest benefit so far is the service due notification,” says Alan Goodman. “It will alert us when a service is within 50 hours of being due and it will actually predict the date the service will be due based on historic running hours. That enables us to plan and schedule our services better.”
Additional Time-saving Benefits
Yet, scheduling only scratches the surface when it comes to the time savings. Consider the time it takes to perform the first preventive maintenance at 250 hours. Traditionally, you have to look at what needs to be done and then look up and order the parts. With Product Link, you look at the screen and it tells you what has to happen.
“You click on another button and it will send a message to tell Carolina Tractor the parts that are needed, like filters, to perform that preventive maintenance,” says Goodman. “You don’t have to fumble through the owner’s and maintenance manuals. You can electronically see what you need to do and order the parts that you need to order.”
Fuel consumption tracking has also been very beneficial. “It allows me to see, from an Internet connection, how much fuel we are consuming at idle,” says Goodman. “I can see how many idling hours we have had, how many running hours we have had and how much fuel was consumed idling or operating. It is amazing how much time the machines idle during a day. We reviewed some of the stats on that with the operators and encouraged them if the machine was idling more than five minutes to turn it off.” This takes into account that machines do need to idle for a few minutes to cool down before they are shut off.
The conversations with the operators produced immediate results. “The following weeks, we reduced idling fuel consumption 5%,” recalls Goodman. “It isn’t a lot, but it converts into a lot of money over the course of the year. That was a good savings for us.”
Another feature beneficial to Wayne Brothers is the geofencing capability. The company purchased a Cat 320 excavator in April that also came with Product Link. Wayne Brothers sets electronic fences for both the D6 dozer and 320 excavator. This will alert company personnel if anyone tries to move the equipment off the jobsite, as well provide tracking information.
An important feature to Wayne Brothers, but one it has not had a chance to use, is health monitoring and fault code notification. The machines with Product Link are new and have yet to generate any serious fault codes. “But as the machines get age on them, that could be a real useful tool to alert us of a problem before an operator even knows about it,” says Goodman.
Sold on Telematics
The company is so impressed with the value of the telematics data, it intends to purchase Product Link Systems for the compact machines it is currently acquiring. “We are in the process of purchasing four new skid steers and one mini-excavator with Product Link. We see the value in that service due notification that justifies spending about $950 to equip the smaller machines with Product Link,” says Goodman.
He adds that the Product Link interface is very easy to use. “I am not a computer guru, but it was intuitive,” he says. “If you have common sense and logic, you can navigate through it with no training. It is amazingly simple.”
Goodman is sold on the value of telematics systems and advises other contractors not familiar with the technology to check with their local dealer. “Once you see the advantages of it and the benefits, it is tough to walk away from it,” he asserts.