Training Keeps Linder Technicians on Their ’A’ Game

Mon December 18, 2006 - Southeast Edition
CEG



Pick any week of the year and it’s likely that a Linder Industrial Machinery technician is undergoing training.

John Coughlin, vice president of product support, said someone from the service department is taking a class 40 to 45 weeks a year. These range from basic classes on hydraulics, engines, electrics and drive trains to advanced classes that focus on specific models.

For the most part, the classes are held at the Charlotte training lab, but Coughlin will send technicians to Komatsu’s facility in Cartersville, Ga., for training focused on the larger pieces of equipment, such as wheel loaders, dozers and articulating and rigid frame trucks. Techs work in Komatsu’s lab and classroom for one or two week sessions.

The benefits of the training are immediate. Coughlin said technicians who attend the class are able to reduce the amount of time it takes to diagnose a problem, thus reducing down time for the contractor.

It’s the extensive training program that helps to attract and maintain a team of qualified technicians. In addition, Coughlin said Linder offers competitive wages and a solid benefits package.

Linder also has found that increasing the availability of parts has cut down on its customers’ down time. Over the past couple of years, Coughlin said the company has nearly eliminated what used to be a two- or three-day wait for parts. Off-the-shelf availability has increased by 80 percent and 99 percent of the time, customers will have the part by the next day.

In addition, Coughlin said Linder is stocking components beyond the normal wear parts, such as engines, transmissions, final drives and pumps. He said having these items readily available offer customers options rather than just the repair choice.

“It’s all in an effort to reduce down time and allow the customer to control the situation,” he said.

The service department is gearing up for the new version of Komtrax, a satellite-based system that transmits information from the equipment to both the end user and the dealership, which is due out in a year and a half. Besides giving the exact location and current hour meter readings, the current system sends alerts when there is a mechanical problem. Coughlin said the new version will be able to provide the same information mentioned and provide details on the machine’s productivity and fuel usage, so the end users will be able to calculate benefits they are receiving from their investment.

Linder has 11 locations in North and South Carolina, six of which are product support branches. By investing in the additional locations, Coughlin said the company is able to expand its footprint and locate the parts closer to its customers. Having technicians strategically placed through out the Carolina’s also cuts down on Linder’s response time.

Each product support branch consists of a parts counter and warehouse and is manned by technicians based in service trucks. Linder’s entire fleet of service trucks are less than three years old and are equipped with three- or four-ton cranes, generators, welders and air compressors.

Additionally, Linder Industrial Machinery has plans on the table to construct a new full service branch in Charlotte and move from the building it has been in since 1952.

The company already has invested $8 million in new facilities upgrades over the past three years, Coughlin said. CEG Staff