My approach to studying technology applications always has been to look at both the truck and construction equipment industries. Why? In all the lifting equipment operations l’ve seen over the years, a truck is parked somewhere nearby. If it wasn’t a telescopic boom truck, then it was a tractor-trailer for transporting boom sections, counterweights, and other equipment.
Consequently, professionals operating a business in the lift equipment industry do not live by cranes, forklifts, and aerials alone. Because both the lifting and trucking businesses share some basic management principles, here are my thoughts regarding technology successes and challenges on mobile equipment.
I recently read in The Wall Street Journal that a research firm discovered "companies need to link investments in technology with changes in their business process." How many of you religiously take oil samples and have them analyzed? If you aren’t doing this, perhaps it’s time for a change. After all, how many years have equipment manufacturers and lubricant suppliers touted the benefits of oil sampling?
How did we manage without mobile communications? Especially when you consider mobile worker productivity increases as much as 25 percent with the use of wireless data communications. This data is based on commercial and governmental benchmarks.
I think the idea behind computer aided dispatch, mobile workforce management,fleet management, vehicular tracking, GPS mapping, real-time remote data collection, and mobile database access is to reduce paperwork through virtual paperless operations. If this doesn’t require changes in business processes, then I don’t know what does.
But wait a minute, listen to this: Due to the nature of the trucking industry, mobile communication is ahead of the construction equipment industry in achieving a virtual paperless operation.
An article in Fleet Owner explained that "communications are typically one of the top five operating expenses for a corporation," and "many companies are overcharged for the services they receive, by 7 to 14 percent, on average."
Did you know there are 12 to 15 different taxes on a phone bill? lf you operate equipment over a geographically dispersed area, deciphering the communications billing can be a real challenge.
Another article published in Heavy Duty Trucking mentioned a Georgia Tech study surveying motor carrier costs, planning, and operating methods. The suryey found more than half the participating fleets use manual processes for route planning (72 percent), dispatching (65 percent), and tracking (61 percent).
In the same article, Charles Arsenault, a maintenance consultant for the trucking industry, said: "Seventy-nine percent of carriers do not use basic maintenance—management software. Most keep their records on file cards; some keep no records at all."
How do your business processes compare to our sister industry? If you look at the above statistics regarding technology utilization on trucks, you see about 30 percent penetration. OEMs and industry suppliers have been promoting technology for more than 20 years in the trucking industry. If you were to rate your lift equipment business, would your company fall in that 30 percent category? Now’s the time to upgrade your business process.