We've taken the bold step this past year of expanding our Buying File articles to include attachments when appropriate. Senior Editor Mike Anderson has uncovered some great tools that can be used on various machine types. This month, in his feature on trenchers, Anderson pulls in tools that can be used on alternate carriers to complete applications that might not require a dedicated trencher.
Attachments are solid options for accomplishing certain tasks that do not require a long-term application of a dedicated machine. Recently, we spotted county-owned dump trucks grading the shoulders of a road with a blade mounted from the truck frame.
Managers must consider the logistics and operating costs whenever an operation requires a machine. If an attachment will do the trick, keep the dedicated machines assigned to tasks that will fully utilize them and send an attachment to the jobsite for those other duties.
Machine utilization will need to be tracked even more closely as the economy cycles over the next year or so. Housing's down, and rumblings about nonresidential are beginning. Yet heavy-construction spending shows no sign of slowing, nor does highway and bridge work. According to our economist, Jim Haughey, 2008 will continue to grow in these two areas (12.6 percent and 9.3 percent, respectively).
For some managers responsible for multi-regional fleets, economic outlooks provide valuable insight. For many others, such broad economic trends don't compare at all to the local or regional activity that drives daily business.
In either case, though, the equipment manager has to maintain tight control over costs and utilization. And attachment utilization needs to be included in the mix. Use them where necessary to free up dedicated machines, but keep track of them. Attachments housing spiders in the back lot are useless; only attachments doing work are worth keeping in the fleet.