By Jason Hurdis, Global Market Professional, Construction Materials Industry, Caterpillar Inc.
Nearly 7 million pieces of construction equipment with connectivity built in are expected to be sold between the years 2018 and 2025, according to industry estimates. That’s not just a lot of machines — that’s a lot of data being generated. So much data, in fact, that it’s overwhelming many equipment owners. The good news is, you don’t have to understand or act on every piece of information. Focusing on just a few key areas can lead to big cost savings and productivity gains.
1. Maintenance schedules and health alerts
If you do nothing else, pay attention to the health information coming off your machines. It alerts you to fault codes that can provide an early warning about maintenance or service issues (or poor operating techniques you can address with your team). When you know about these things in advance, you can plan service around your schedule and avoid emergency repairs that cost more in money and downtime.
It’s also a good idea to take advantage of the maintenance tracking features on your connected machines to stay on top of service — no more paper calendars, no more missed deadlines. You may even be able to extend maintenance intervals by scheduling routine service based on machine use and condition versus a specific date or hour marker. It all adds up to equipment that’s ready to work when you are, earning you money versus costing you money.
2. Idle time and fuel use
You’ve probably heard this stat before — idle time can represent as much as 40-50% of total running time on many jobsites. That’s a lot of wasted fuel and wasted money. Tracking idle time on your connected machines is simple and helps you identify the best places to focus your efforts:
- Who: Are certain operators idling more than others? A simple conversation or training session may be all you need to address the problem.
- Where: Is idle time a problem on one site more than others? You may discover you can get by with fewer machines at that location or need to adjust the site setup for more efficiency.
- When: Does idle time happen more around lunch or break times? You can educate operators to turn off machines when they’re idling for more than a couple minutes.
Reducing idle time in even one of these areas can have an immediate payback in lower fuel costs, reduced wear and tear and less need for maintenance.
3. Equipment utilization
You can’t see what’s happening across every jobsite physically — but with the right data, you virtually can. Utilization data tells you which machines are working at capacity and which ones aren’t. It may reveal that trucks are sitting too long waiting to be loaded, and by parking one, you could save fuel and money. It might point to a piece of equipment that’s consistently under-used and perhaps worth trading off. Or it may show you a rental machine that’s finished its task early, so you could return it ahead of schedule and avoid paying for non-working time. Utilization data gives you an at-a-glance look at your entire fleet, so you can keep it working as productively as possible.
Don’t let the amount of data generated by your equipment overwhelm you. Start by looking at these three important areas — and take advantage of free mobile and online tools, like the Cat App and My.Cat.Com, that make accessing, understanding and taking action on your data fast and easy.