Bolted On or Integrated

Bolted On or Integrated

October 31, 2013

Two conversations this month shone bright spots on the on-the-ground frustrations of equipment managers trying to use machine data in fleet decision-making. Each of these managers works for organizations that would be considered successful and have forward-thinking fleet-management strategies.

In the first, an informal discussion about fleet-maintenance software had suddenly veered toward telematics and the difficulties of integrating data into an organization’s enterprise management system.

This fleet manager explained how his organization had custom built its system to incorporate fleet data. The fleet-management software is integrated into the enterprise system, a situation about which many fleet managers only dream.

When asked how he accessed machine data and put it into the system, I was stunned to hear: paper and pencil. Someone on site records the data, which are subsequently input manually into the system. I wasn’t stunned because paper and pencil exist; I was surprised because this is a well-known company that is a forerunner in fleet-asset management.

The other conversation was about how a quality maintenance-management system enables a fleet to execute on preventive maintenance. This was a stand-alone system that was eventually bolted on to the organization’s corporate accounting and management software platform. PM management improved, substantially, and fleet performance also improved.

As time passed, requests were made to upgrade the equipment software. The information technology folks (IT) said no; they were going to develop an enterprise system that would integrate fleet. This request has been repeated for several years—with a similar response—leaving the fleet to manage PMs with software that hasn’t been updated since it was originally purchased.

We all know how quickly software can go stale; it’s a testament that the fleet is maintaining its successful PM program. But it’s discouraging to think what other benefits it is missing out on.

These are but two examples. But another manager’s frustrated, “I’d be happy with just location and hours,” sums up the overall state of equipment management.

Only corporate boards and owners that accept the value it can bring to asset management will ever do anything substantial with technology. Too many are not even close.