Success Starts with Fleet Management
In the construction industry, fleet management tends to be the job that can make or break the success of an organization. When your crew isn't working because of breakdowns, or it takes them more time to do the work because they don't have the right machine for the job, timelines get extended and profits are quickly gobbled up. From making sure your equipment is where it needs to be, and ensuring maintenance needs are up-to-date, to making equipment acquisition decisions, fleet management can be a daunting task.
With crews and equipment spread throughout the United States, ElectriCom Inc. of Paoli, Indiana, understands how challenging fleet management can be. ElectriCom specializes in telecom construction, employs more than 300 people, and has a fleet of 700 pieces of equipment. In an organization of that size, fleet management is more than a full time job.
ElectriCom's equipment manager, Mike Busenburg, is responsible for keeping track of all that equipment and is happy to share his experience with others on the job. "Our fleet includes a wide range of off-road equipment, trailers and vehicles," explains Busenburg. "The best piece of advice I can give anyone about fleet management is to keep after it and stay on top of the maintenance. If you let the details get away from you, it's hard to catch back up."
There are a lot of responsibilities that go into being an equipment manager, in addition to overseeing a fleet of equipment, Busenburg is responsible for equipment sales, shop and service, steel mechanics, DOT compliance and dispatch trucking. Busenburg says having quality equipment, outstanding service support from the dealer, and parts support from the manufacturer will certainly help make the job easier. It is one of the reasons why ElectriCom turns to Takeuchi when purchasing compact excavators.
"Takeuchi makes solid excavators that our guys really like running," explains Busenburg. "We have nine TB228s and one TB175 in our excavator fleet. The TB228 is a great unit to send out with horizontal directional drilling crews because it can deliver plenty of digging force in a compact size that fits into tight spaces. Our operators are very complimentary of the unit's breakout force and digging depths. I like these units because they’re durable and easy to maintain. We have other compact excavators that aren't as easy to work on."
With so many manufacturers in the compact excavator business, ElectriCom does their due diligence when expanding its fleet. "We have an extensive process for vetting new equipment," says Busenburg. On average, a piece of equipment will be in our fleet for six years so it important to do your homework before making that kind of capital investment. Six years can feel like a life time if you buy a lemon."
That process starts with Busenburg sitting down with the company's production managers to review upcoming work and existing work. "We determine what we need, where we need it when it needs to be there," explains Busenburg. "From there, I spec out the size of machine we need and determine the manufacturers that produce a quality unit that will meet our needs. We narrow that group even further by looking at the quality of service the dealer and manufacturer will provide after the sale. We don't deal a lot with manufacturers directly, but we know it's an important part of getting what we need from the dealer. I believe there are a lot of manufacturers out there that can build a good machine, but it's standing behind that unit after-the-sale that makes one manufacturer shine above another."
Managing a fleet of construction equipment certainly isn't glamorous and it's typically not your average 8 to 5 job, but doing your upfront homework before acquiring equipment, having the right equipment for the job and ensuring that it's properly maintained, will help your business be successful.