Maine Trails, June-July '11
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President's Message
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What’s on their minds
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Two for the roads
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Digging in
Technology in the field
The Matrix

Guest column

Technology in the field:

The right technology can increase efficiency, reduce mistakes and make a quantifiable difference at your work site

By Steve Washburn, Milton CAT Product Support Sales Manager
 
Thankfully, new technologies in best maintenance practices have kept pace with the machines we own and operate, contributing to increased convenience, improved accuracy and reliability, document performance, and a reduction in waste and errors, according to a report released by Milton Cat. Here are some major areas in which these new tools can help.
 
Our equipment’s eyes
 
You may have seen this in somebody else’s fleet, or you may be using it yourself. It’s that extra antenna sitting on the machine, and it transmits information--machine location, diagnostic codes, history and alerts via satellite to your office, cell phone or e-mail account.
 
Faster, easier and environmentally safe fluid changes
 
Equipment manufacturers are now using on-board systems allowing you to evacuate transmissions, hydraulic tanks and other oil-based reservoirs in your equipment very efficiently. It’s environmentally clean, safe and easy, and a complete engine oil and filter change takes only 20 minutes. There are no leaks, no pans and no mess, and best of all, the entire operation requires no crawling under the machine.
 
If your machine is connected to your dealer’s service center via a wireless system, every time you do a transmission, hydraulic or oil change, the operation gets automatically time-stamped, offering a reliable level of maintenance verification and record-keeping that increases the value of your machine.
 
24/7 parts ordering
 
Chances are when it’s convenient for you to order parts, it’s not within regular business hours. And chances are, your equipment dealer knows that, and has come up with an electronic solution. Now you can order parts and consumables at your convenience, from your office, from the road or from the field, 24 hours a day. Other timesaving features that can truly make a difference in your busy life include real-time price and availability that allow you to make the best purchasing decisions.
 
Access to product information
 
Online product support information is a cost-effective alternative to paper and microfiche and a great tool for operations, maintenance and safety manuals, as well as disassembly and assembly schematics, troubleshooting, testing and adjusting for any machine or work tool in your fleet.
 
Monitoring machine health
 
Scheduled oil sampling is a program that gives you an insight into the health of your machines. Small amounts of oil and other fluids are collected and stored in the cavities of the components in the engine, power train, hydraulics, braking and coolant system. Samples are labeled and sent to the equipment dealer’s lab, where they will be analyzed and interpreted. Results are sent to you via regular mail or email. Scheduled oil sampling is one of a number of important tools that can be used to support your decision-making when it comes to maintenance, helping you lower your owning and operating costs, maximizing component life and optimizing your investment. Some equipment dealers make oil analysis services available on the web. This option allows you to access your fluid sample analysis history, reports and recommendations, any time, any place. Some key features of scheduled oil services on the web are notifications of new information being posted; search and sort data up to five years back; detailed descriptions and sample history.
 
Scheduling repairs, reducing downtime
 
Many new, larger machines come equipped with software that provides a graphic interface for diagnostic testing, troubleshooting and calibration. Generally available on a subscription basis, this application reduces downtime and efficiently schedules repairs. Some of the most important uses include:
 
  • view active and logged diagnostic codes and quickly identify faulty sensors;
  • review logged event codes to check on engine overspeeds, high temperature, etc;
  • identify the root cause of problems through diagnostic tests;
  • calibrate key components to ensure operating efficiency;
  • record real-time data;
  • view previously recorded data logs to monitor trends in the health of your equipment;
  • search help options to guide tasks; retrieve data for fuel used, miles traveled, hours operated and idle time;
  • display status of engine speed, throttle position, timing advance, etc.
In summary, nothing beats ongoing, hands-on maintenance, and technology can never replace a good, careful operator. Being aware of the available new tools, however, allows you to choose the ones that make the most sense for your particular fleet, and can save money and help prolong your equipments’ life.
 
EDITOR’S NOTE: Maine Trails welcomes guest commentaries from our members. If you would like to submit a guest column on a transportation-related subject for publication, please e-mail trails@mbtaonline.org or call 207-622-0526 to discuss.
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