Every equipment-owning organization should have a clearly defined internal policy and procedure on equipment appearance and image. It should be in writing, regularly updated, and distributed to all managers. Equipment appearance is a statement covering the colors, paint schemes, logos, equipment numbering, equipment cleanliness, and other such topics.
Cost is the easy part. If senior management requires all heavy equipment be washed at least once each month, you can calculate the cost of a mobile wash truck. If all assigned vehicles are to be washed weekly, there is a clearly identifiable cost. If your procedures recommend repainting major equipment every four years, there is a cost. You’ll need some version of a corporate graphics manual that covers logos, equipment numbering, and colors. Make no mistake: There is an added cost to improving fleet appearance. The decision to spend this money
becomes a company-wide culture statement that comes from top management.
The benefits of fleet appearance are harder to measure, but there is a definite return on the investment. Some include:
- Your operations people take better care of equipment that looks good.
- Your equipment people feel they are supported better by senior management.
- Freshly washed equipment reveals new leaks or damage.
- Transporting clean equipment will cause less damage to the motoring public, and you will buy fewer windshields.
- You send a strong message to your employees that you expect quality in everything you do.
- You send a strong message to your customers (especially the private customers), to your vendors, and to the general public that you deliver and expect quality. Your company vehicles—especially your lube trucks, technician service vehicles, and transports—are rolling billboards that reinforce your company image in the community.
- You distinguish your company from the average contractor that treats its appearance as low-priority.
- Your message to everyone is that you care about the big things and the details.
- The local police will stop your vehicles fewer times and give you fewer citations.
- Your employees will better comply with your safety rules.
- You can recruit better because everyone wants to be associated with a quality house.
As you support the message, it becomes endemic to your organization and becomes your culture.
The value of paint
Some organizations paint their major equipment a unique color so their fleet and their job sites are more identifiable. That approach adds unnecessary cost and may cause other problems. The organization will pay several thousand dollars to paint and decal each new piece of equipment. When disposing of the machine, it should repaint it to standard OEM colors so that the new owner isn’t confused with the original owner.
Original OEM colors are more easily identifiable, too. For example, Hitachi excavators are orange, Komatsu excavators are beige, and Caterpillar and Deere excavators are yellow. If you rent or lease, those machines will stand out as rented. That means it may be treated differently or receive less maintenance because it is not owned and can be easily distinguished by your operations people. On the other hand, painting small, portable equipment (and related hand tools) a unique color may deter theft, but this is a minor expense compared to painting full-sized machines.
Spending energy and money to improve your fleet’s appearance is worthwhile. Think about it.