Fleet asset managers face some major decisions in 2014. None is a surprise, but the time may have come to change the way fleets are managed. As I look at the future of the equipment profession, I use Mike Vorster’s hexagon as a touchstone. Here are three areas in an organization’s fleet-management structure that need consideration next year.
The first area of change affects the blue side of the hexagon: shop and field maintenance. Fleet managers must evaluate the effectiveness and efficiency of their maintenance operations. Next year, they need to determine what and how much maintenance and repair could be outsourced.
The technological advances in new machines will force maintenance operations to change. Don’t believe suppliers who say maintenance will be the same; it won’t, and here’s why:
- Diesel exhaust fluid (DEF) will require that fleets learn how to acquire, store, manage, and dispense this new fluid.
- High-pressure hydraulic systems will require managers to adjust maintenance strategies and train technicians to work safely.
- Tier 4 engines will require cleaner fuel and fluids and processes to handle aftertreatment devices such as diesel particulate filters (DPF) and diesel oxidation catalysts (DOC).
The second part of the hexagon that will change next year—and beyond—is the asset management triangle. Machine data must be incorporated into the financial management of fleet, and the role of telematics will have to be defined. As fleets acquire new heavy equipment, many will come enabled to collect and transmit machine data.
Fleets must decide whether to monitor data, determine how to use it, and evaluate methods for integrating it into back-end asset-management and corporate software.
The third area of change in 2014 occurs in the triangle of acquisition. New-machine prices will be propelled up the list of criteria used in acquisition decisions. The research and development investments incurred for Tier 4 and the electronics technology behind telematics will need to be recouped, and those costs will increasingly be borne by the ultimate users of the technology.
How your organization handles the changes coming in these three areas will define its success in coming years. As your team’s equipment professional, your expertise will be critical.