Prioritizing safety, uptime in new ways

By |  December 18, 2018
 Through technology, a number of dealers are capable of estimating when a component on key equipment is likely reaching the end of its life. This capability expedites the parts replacement process and minimizes the impact on production. Photo courtesy of Komatsu

Through technology, a number of dealers are capable of estimating when a component on key equipment is likely reaching the end of its life. This capability expedites the parts replacement process and minimizes the impact on production. Photo courtesy of Komatsu

2018 was a fruitful year for both the aggregate and equipment distribution industries. Both outpaced inventories, putting intense pressure on production.

Aggregate production is up once again, and the heavy equipment industry is experiencing significant growth. This comes largely on the backs of residential and commercial construction, as we are still without passage of a much-needed federal highway and infrastructure-funding plan.

Where dealers are focused

With this sort of growth and the amount of runway for even greater prosperity in front of us, the importance of equipment distributors to be in lockstep with the aggregate and construction customers we serve has never been greater. Machine safety, optimization and uptime are at the forefront of our responsibilities, and we also can play a vital role in the push for legislation that allows our public infrastructure to keep up with the private growth we are experiencing.

Even if the demand for new equipment tapers in the next few years, our customers will continue to look to equipment distributors to keep machines running at maximum availability and at their highest level of productivity. Not only is it a matter of having enough people, but it’s having men and women available who are skilled in diagnosing and repairing the highly advanced machines being produced today – and doing so more quickly than ever.

Add to that demand the expected increased focus by the Mine Safety & Health Administration on mobile equipment safety, and the need for immediate installation and repair of new safety features could only add to existing pressures. In response, a number of distributors dedicated significant resources over the past few years to make up for the decreased number of qualified service technicians coming from vocational and technical schools by creating their own apprenticeship and continuing education programs.

Another important area of product support is component forecasting and parts availability. During the recession, many aggregate producers made cuts to their own spare parts inventories for equipment. And like many businesses across a variety of industries, those supplies haven’t always been replenished with the growing economy.

Increasing parts inventories is only one component of the solution. This shift in demand provides an opportunity for equipment dealers to show producers the great benefit of the data collected from the telematics equipment offered on many machines. With this service, in most cases free of charge, distributors can better estimate when a component is likely reaching the end of its life, allowing us to make sure we have the component earmarked for that customer and schedule a replacement at a time that least adversely affects production.

Lending our voice

While 2018 was not as successful a year on the political front as we had envisioned, equipment distributors must stay committed and recognize that we are a powerful voice in the effort to communicate to our legislators the need for policies that promote continued investment in our infrastructure. This requires active participation in local business groups, as well as aggregate and construction associations at the national and state levels.

This is an exciting time for equipment distributors to be as involved as ever with our aggregate and construction customers, together facing challenges and capitalizing on the opportunities that lie ahead.


Headshot: Lee Heffley

Heffley

Lee Heffley is vice president and regional sales manager for Brandeis Machinery, a 110-year-old distributor of Komatsu and Wirtgen equipment in Indiana and Kentucky.


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