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Wed December 02, 2015 - Midwest Edition
When a heavy equipment dealer makes a service guarantee, it is a promise that can make or break the sales relationship. If the customer’s recently purchased equipment fails in the field, production stops and labor stands idle until repairs are made. A bad experience today also can affect potential future sales.
For that reason, many new and used heavy equipment dealers offer warranty or service programs that include regular lubrication and preventive maintenance to ensure equipment performs as expected, with maximum uptime. Given the size of the equipment and the logistics of moving it to another location, this work typically occurs at the construction site, off-hours, by trained field technicians.
“As a full line John Deere construction equipment dealer, when we sell equipment we are committed to keeping our customers up and running through our Erbvantage maintenance plan that allows us to handle the uptime while our customers keep working,” said Gregg Erb, president of Erb Equipment Company, one of the largest equipment suppliers in the Midwest. “Regularly scheduled and documented maintenance including lubrication in the field not only helps our customers stay more productive and profitable, but also extends the life of their equipment and increases its resale value.”
However, the traditional field service model of hauling a variety of containers of grease, hydraulic fluid, oil and other lubricants that must be lifted in and out of trucks and then poured or pumped by hand is no longer adequate.
This is not only a slow and inefficient way to complete such work, adding to the costs, but also increases the risk of injury to technicians, spills, and even the potential to accidentally ignite the highly flammable products.
“We prioritize safety and uptime for our customers’ equipment and our technicians,” said Erb. “Older maintenance methods, such as having technicians lift heavy 5-gallon containers of oil and lubricants on and off trucks can be unsafe and inefficient. It can lead to injury when lifting or jumping in and out of the truck bed.”
According to Erb, containers that are not properly sealed also can lead to contamination of lubricant with water from rain or snow. Once introduced to the construction equipment, it can affect equipment performance and even cause damage.
An alternative now being utilized by heavy equipment dealers is to invest in properly designed lube skids mounted on trucks, or lube trailers, that can be used to quickly, safely and ergonomically dispense lubricants, such as oil and grease, as well as efficiently recover used oil. Some trailers also can safely dispense fuel.
Although standard skids and trailers exist in the market, some manufacturers offer custom options designed to satisfy every field requirement. Such customization not only helps dealers honor their service guarantees more efficiently and at less cost, but also maximizes uptime for the customer.
To enhance safety, equipment uptime, and productivity, Erb Equipment has worked with Valley Industries, a provider of custom as well as standard lube skids, trailers and trucks, to customize LubeMate lube skids for many years.
“We request just the features we require in our truck-mounted, custom lube skids,” said Erb. “Each of our service trucks is equipped with the essential oils, grease and waste oil tanks needed.”
With the custom skids, dealers can select just what they need in terms of tank number and size for clean or waste oil, grease, anti-freeze, water or washer fluid. By choosing options for pump, reel, hose, meter and dispenser as well as layout, cabinet, drip pan and containment they can further optimize their field service.
“Outfitting our service trucks with custom lube skids has increased our profitability since we’ve increased the number of field service calls we can perform per day, while enabling our technicians to be safer and more efficient,” said Erb. “That translates into greater customer satisfaction, which is our number one priority.”
Meeting Service Guarantees
“To maximize our customers’ uptime and meet any service guaranties, we will go to our customers’ job sites and schedule their maintenance after hours,” said Erb. “All of our service trucks are equipped with vehicle tracking so we can immediately dispatch one of our closest field service trucks to take care of our customers’ needs. It’s all about providing uptime to earn our customers’ business.”
Erb incorporated a number of features in the truck-mounted, custom lube skids to help his mobile technicians be as efficient as possible.
With such custom skids and trailers, dealers can specify the location of the tanks, retractable reels and equipment so workers can safely, efficiently dispense oil and fluids while standing on the ground.
“The use of ergonomically positioned retractable reels eliminates the slip-fall workers comp hazards related to climbing on or off a truck or moving heavy barrels to retrieve product,” said Erb.
Among the features that Erb expects on his Valley Industries’ LubeMate skids are digital metering, which tells the technician exactly how much is dispensed, as well as sight gauges that show the remaining fluid levels to ensure the technician does not accidently get caught short.
According to Erb, another lube service area that can be prohibitively time consuming and labor intensive is recovering used oil, as the process cannot contaminate the job site and is monitored by the EPA. While typical used oil evacuation can be slow and messy, his skids all have “no spill” quick couplers for fast oil evacuation directly from the oil pan.
Although Erb prefers to purchase skids, enclosed or open lubrication trailers also are available, as well as trailers designed to deliver diesel fuel. These trailers also can be configured to meet just about any requirements.
For dealers looking to provide contractors with the custom lube or fuel service required, fast response and delivery can be vital to meet construction project deadlines. While typical manufacturers may take several months to deliver a custom lube skid or trailer because they are not geared up to do so, some that focus on such work can deliver it in less than a month.
As field service continues to grow, Erb Equipment plans to continue investing in its fleet of mobile equipment.
“We have been adding several new field service trucks to our fleet each year,” said Erb. “As we rotate the older units out, we are able to increase our resale value when the vehicle is equipped with LubeMate skids.”
“Any heavy equipment dealers looking to profitably meet their service guarantees and better service their customers should look into lube skid customization, and will appreciate the fast turnaround,” said Erb. “We received the custom lube skids we needed as soon as three weeks after ordering them.”
For more information, call 800/400-0124 or visit www.valley-industries.com.
Del Williams is a technical writer based in Torrance, Calif.
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