Survey reveals big opportunity for improving asset management

WesTrac Asset Strategy Manager DEAN CRUICKSHANKS delves into the latest equipment management survey, which is designed to help WesTrac understand how customers manage and maintain equipment, then provide information and solutions to help customers overcome challenges and improve their productivity and efficiency.

WesTrac’s Equipment Management Survey is a way of better understanding our customers with Cat® machines and their owner experiences. We want to know how we can assist them with any challenges or difficulties they might be experiencing when it comes to operating and maintaining equipment.

The results help us to develop new or improve our existing support offerings, and tailor different solutions to really help customers with any tough points of asset ownership. As an example, a lot of the feedback from the last survey was around new customers and some of the difficulties they found when it came to navigating the different systems available from WesTrac and Caterpillar®. So we introduced TeamYellow, a complimentary program specifically designed to onboard new customers and help them understand some of the intricacies of owning and operating different Cat machines.

This year’s survey indicated not so much a need to develop new service offerings, but a need to educate customers on some of the options already available to them which they weren't aware of.

The survey is aimed at the building/construction industry and typically owner-operators. So of more than 200 respondents to this year’s survey, roughly a third were sole traders, a third had less than five employees and the remaining third had more than five employees. That’s a good representation of the customers we are dealing with.

Now let’s dig into some of the findings. The first is that most respondents are using very manual methods to keep track of equipment performance data, or they're not doing it at all. That includes 52 per cent using paper-based records, 18 per cent who say they keep all the information in their heads and 5 per cent saying they just don't do it.

Equipment Management Survey Results

Then we've got 34 per cent who are at least using some sort of computer-based records, though that includes standalone programs like Excel. And 4 per cent are just leaving it in the hands of their dealers or local branches. Only 3 per cent use dedicated data management tools like My.Cat.Com (MCC).

But on the flipside of the fact that most people are not using integrated or smart data storage solutions, 77 per cent say that they agree having an equipment management plan is important for their business. And 92 per cent believe that monitoring equipment health is worthwhile to avoid failures and unplanned downtime.

Those percentages are exciting as they indicate a desire to get better at equipment monitoring and management. Most respondents are in the owner-operator category and generate their income by being on the tools, so keeping that detailed maintenance history is not really on top of their priority lists.

This is an area where WesTrac really can help those customers, and it’s something we’ve known about for some time. In fact, it is one of the drivers for developing our FitFleet offering.

Under the FitFleet program, customers can enrol their assets into one of four tiers, from a DIY option to a fully managed one. WesTrac keeps an eye on the utilisation and maintenance requirements of the machine and we work with customers to let them know when a service is due, arranging when and how that service is most conveniently delivered. And that means WesTrac takes responsibility for all the usage and maintenance records for the customer. It really takes the burden of record keeping away from the customer and ensures the customers’ machines are staying productive. The upcoming FitFleet portal also allows customers to login at any time to keep up-to-date on some of this key information.

The other thing to consider is that there’s so much data being captured from machines these days - the challenge is not to get lost in the data and to make sure you are only looking at the things that matter to your business. With the Cat VisionLink connectivity platform, there are multiple equipment data levels available to choose from depending on how much machine data a customer wants to see - and how often they want to see it.

For example, some customers just want to know where their machine is, how many hours the machine operated for each day and maybe the fuel level. But others want to know more detail on the health of their machine, like are there any engine high temperature alerts or engine overspeeds. Or has the operator been doing anything that may be damaging the machine in any way. And other customers might want to know how productive their machines are in quite a bit of detail.

VisionLink can pull all this data from a machine, then we can work with customers to understand what bits of this data they want to see and set up an appropriate access level that best suits their needs. And once a customer has that access set up for their machines on VisionLink, they can log in anytime they like and view the data that matters to them.

The Cat App is even more suited to owner-operators because it allows them to see the important data on their phones or tablets, which means they can stay connected and informed whenever they have a phone signal.

Another thing we are conscious off is how long customers spend ordering and picking up parts. So we really want to address that pain point for customers by helping them use Parts.Cat.Com (PCC). It’s an easy way for customers to purchase any parts they need – they can login any time - or get into it via the Cat App - and search through parts lists and manuals then order the parts they need. They can arrange to have these delivered to their site or to pick up next time they are driving past the branch – even out of business hours if the branch offers Click & Collect.

It’s obvious that there are options available to help customers better manage and maintain their equipment. But the clear message from this year’s survey is that WesTrac needs to do more to help customers understand and embrace these solutions.

Rest assured, we will be working hard to do that.

Author: Dean Cruickshanks

Dean Cruickshanks
Dean is an Asset Strategy Manager based out of WesTrac NSW. He is a specialist when it comes to technology and maintenance solutions. He has held various roles at WesTrac since 2008.

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