Equipment Executive: Who Really Is at the Wheel?

Andy Agoos, Contributing Editor | October 14, 2010

Since you are reading this article, my guess is that you are an equipment-owning manager who is open to new ideas.

You probably have a dealer product-support rep who regularly measures your crawler undercarriage. You probably have some kind of oil analysis program that looks at your fluids. You may even have large-particle analysis run on your hydraulic oil; and if you’re really high-tech, you have some form of telematics on your late-model equipment monitoring lots of machine health sensors.

Are you really doing it right?

My frustration with all these great equipment-management tools is that no one in your company or in your various dealerships may actually be doing something with all this good data. Unless a real person takes this data and turns it into an action, it never becomes usable, useful information.

And the worst part of this is that you are paying to get the data and throwing that money away because you aren’t using it to save you from “Code Blue” unplanned downtime—the archenemy of equipment owners.

Who is at the wheel?

Here’s an exercise in self-examination. Do it honestly. Don’t cheat. No one will judge you. Write down on a piece of paper a list of all those things your company does to spot and prevent failures or needed repairs. List them down the left side of the page.

Do you have regular bucket or cutting edge inspections? If so, write it down. How about regular inspections when your machines return to your storage yard or shop? Put it on the list. What about inspections when a piece of equipment first arrives at one of your jobs? Track measurements, fluid analysis, fuel consumption data, scheduled PM services every 500 hours, daily DOT-required truck inspections, daily alerts from your OEM or third-party telematics system. The list goes on. There probably are a dozen or more of them for progressive contractors.

Now on the right side of the page opposite each item, write down the name of the specific person in your organization who is assigned the responsibility and is held accountable to oversee and take action on that specific item. By the way, doing a task (being responsible) and being accountable are not the same thing, right?

If you are like most fleets, my bet is that in many cases, the person on your list is:

(a) Overloaded
(b) Doesn’t have a designated backup
(c) Gets sick or takes vacation occasionally, and worst of all
(d) Doesn’t know he or she is empowered to take action and is accountable (where is that job description).

Ready for action?

My recommendation is to hurry up and finish reading this article, write down your list, and take a hard look at the names on the page. Then go talk to each person and convince yourself that each one of them knows he or she is accountable for taking action, and that what they do is important. It’s important because that person really is the one who has his hands on the wheel.

Think about it.