C.W. Matthews Contracting uses a small fleet of Caterpillar 777s to help build the fifth runway at Atlanta's Hartsfield International Airport. The haul trucks cycle between the fill site and specially designed Astec hoppers that dump 110 tons of dirt in 10 seconds. The project requires 25 million yards of fill and offers a hefty bonus if Matthews can complete the job early.
Except for the scale, this project typifies what equipment users face every day: the challenge of completing a job on time and on budget. For Matthews, that means addressing the grade leading to and from the hoppers at the right speed in order to produce the most efficient cycle time. Matthews discovered, however, that operators weren't shifting the trucks' gears at the most effective points in the cycle. Matthews' distributor, Yancey Bros., identified the operator problem through Cat's Product Link, which electronically connects the trucks to the dealer.
Product Link is an example of telematics: wireless-enabled, two-way communication between a vehicle and its external environment. According to a recent study from the consulting firm Accenture, telematics addresses the critical challenges of increasing machine utilization, reducing maintenance costs, and increasing operational efficiency.
Accenture's research, which queried equipment manufacturers, distributors and end-users, not only suggests that equipment will carry more telematics, but also that users recognize how such technology will enable them to better manage their fleets. Some 35 percent of users were interested in integrating telematics services with fleet-management systems.
But it's not the technology that will earn the bonus for Matthews, it's the knowledge behind it. That's where the partnership with Yancey sparkled. After Product Link identified the shifting problem, Yancey implemented immediate training programs for haul-truck operators.
A single improvement in operations—as executive editor Larry Stewart points out in "Production Heroes" on page 28—can boost productivity and, hence, bottom-line profit.
Take a lesson from C.W. Matthews: Prepare for and embrace the telematics revolution; partner with suppliers and distributors who understand your business and are committed to your success; and train for productivity. Profitability will improve, and the bonuses won't hurt either.
|Rod Sutton, Editor in Chief, ASBPE Regional Award Winner, 630-288-8130, firstname.lastname@example.org|