Every farmer, fleet manager, construction foreman and mining company VP knows that getting the most out of the machines you already own isn’t just ideal; it’s essential. Also essential? Getting the most you can out of every excavator, motor grader, dozer and combine while keeping money spent to do so at a minimum. In addition to keeping projects on schedule and under budget, stretching machine life and uptime keeps margins fatter and employees safer and happier. It also keeps work-related headaches at bay.
But how do you go about it best? Because older gear can lack many of the tech-related cost savings built into newer models (electric or hybrid engines, improved fuel efficiencies, fault code alerts, etc.), it can be tempting to throw up your hands and assume you can’t improve the functioning of your fleet. Don’t do it. There’s a lot the savvy can do to lower total cost of ownership (TCO) — even on gear that’s decades old.
So roll up your sleeves. Here are a few tips for improving TCO on every piece of machinery you already own.
Add Telematics Hardware to Legacy Vehicles
Sometimes you have to spend money to make money, and other times, you have to spend money to save money. In the case of older machines that lack telematics hardware, it’s time to spend to save if you really want to lower TCO.
Why? Simply put, a telematics device can help you better keep track of gear and how it’s being used. It can also alert you to fault codes and other problems before something goes really wrong — like a transmission fails — resulting in downtime and costly emergency repairs. A telematics device would also make it possible for you to gather data from your machine, which, when analyzed and leveraged properly, can also lower TCO and improve productivity.
Fuel costs account for a considerable amount of any gear-driven organization’s budget. Because of this reality, many construction and mining companies as well as farming operations and municipalities know that keeping fuel use in check is essential. Still, far too many firms and organizations aren’t aggressive enough when it comes to fuel waste.
simply reducing the amount of idling your machinery engages in will save money and lower TCO. The U.S. Department of Energy estimates about 6 billion gallons of diesel fuel and gasoline are consumed nationwide each year while vehicles and machines are doing nothing but eating up money and spewing CO2. Besides the negative effects such waste has on the environment, unnecessary idling increases fuel costs and wears down engines. An engine that’s on but isn’t “working” is still an engine at work. Idling reduces and compromises engine health by stripping oil from pistons and cylinders. The result is a shorter engine life and increased maintenance costs.
So make it your way or the highway. Tell your operators to turn machines off when they aren’t in use.
Establish a Solid Preventive Maintenance Program … and Follow It
Perhaps the easiest way to lower total cost of ownership for dozers, motor graders, excavators and trucks is to establish a preventive maintenance schedule and stick to it. Every fleet manager knows this, but too few enact it as though their company’s existence depends on it. That should change.
Hardworking gear that’s well-maintained through a preventive maintenance program costs about 25% less across the life of the equipment compared to gear that isn’t well-maintained through PM. The benefits of lowering TCO, then, are obvious, but there are others, too.
Well-maintained gear is safer that poorly maintained gear, reducing the number of workplace accidents and fatalities. It can also land you a higher resale price. Finally, well-maintained gear will just last longer, putting off the need to lease or purchase new equipment, which can mean the difference between a healthy, happy company and one that’s stressed and in the red.
Utilize a Fleet Management App
Of course, putting a preventive maintenance program in place and executing it are two different matters just as reducing unnecessary idling is not the same as knowing when an engine is under stress and in need of attention. To be most effective at lowering TCO, then, you likely need a little help. Consider finding a fleet management app.
The best fleet management apps on the market make it easier to lower expenses through literal cost savings, as well as time savings and improved efficiency, communication and productivity. Here are some tools and features to look for:
Automated preventive maintenance
Automated and assignable task creation
A forms and reporting tool that’s easily customizable
Mixed fleet compatible
Telematics and data gathering
Then there are the specifics your particular business needs. Be sure to choose an app that can be readily adjusted, customized and optimized to fit your unique situation.
The world of machinery-centered work is getting more and more complex, but it’s still true that as long as your gear works and it doesn’t cost you more money to run it than the money it brings in, you’re going to be successful. Chasing after the next big thing to maintain competitiveness can be worthwhile. However, don’t forget to stick with the tried and true. Lower TCO, and the challenges of today and tomorrow will instantly become more manageable.
GearJot is a fleet and asset management app that can help you save money on maintaining all your gear. Find out how by scheduling a demo today.