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Volvo Technology Keeps Tabs on Machines

Wed July 12, 2000 - Southeast Edition
Sheila Irvine

You rent equipment to a contractor or you are a contractor with more than one job site in the works at a time.

Wouldn’t it be great to be a fly on the wall, so to speak, and watch how the operators of that equipment are treating it?

Are they letting the machine run idle (using up hours that count toward downtime maintenance costs and wear and tear), or are they revving the engines too much?

You can’t be in two or more places at once to monitor your equipment’s use — or can you?

With Volvo Construction Equipment North America Inc.’s new Matris system you can — at least, virtually, you can.

The new software, used with C or D generation machines — wheel loaders and articulated haulers — equipped with Contronics monitoring systems, can let you know “the entire history of the machine,” according to Randy Bushelli, product support specialist with Volvo.

The Matris system was officially launched at ConExpo 1999, he said, and already “all the major Volvo dealers have the program available,” and are using it to help customers keep track of how their equipment is being used.

“We’re getting all positive feedback,” Bushelli said. “One of the manifestations of that is an increased demand at the dealer level for proper operator training.”

Training operators is one of the most important functions Matris can point to, by recording their every move, according to Bill Ramsey, rental fleet inspector for the L. B. Smith’s Southeast Division, based in Orlando.

“You can continuously control and make corrections to operator techniques,” Bushelli said.

“We’ve been using Matris for six months,” Ramsey said, “and it’s been doing a great job for us.”

Ramsey pointed out that the ability to show potential buyers a printout (from a laptop computer that records the Matris data) can help in resales.

“We’ve been able to show our customers a complete history on the machines, and it has helped us make some deals,” Ramsey said.

Don Kramer, a Volvo dealer from Evansville, IN, agrees.

“The biggest thing with these machines is idle time above a certain rpm, it tells you you have a problem with your operator. The Matris system has really opened some eyes,” Kramer said.

One of Kramer’s customers was not getting the life he expected from his machine’s tires, and by using the Matris system, analyzed the problem “and cut his tire costs,” Kramer said.

The Matris program is available “for less than $500” at major Volvo dealers, Bushelli said, and the only other thing that is required is a laptop computer and a tool that allows the user to connect the laptop to the machine.

Another benefit of the Matris system is that it works as a troubleshooter for electrical and other diagnostics on the machine, Bushelli said. Matris “reduces maintenance and repair costs, too.”

But the main purpose “is to make sure the customer is getting maximum performance out of the machine, based on its design,” Bushelli said.

Volvo headquarters for North America is in Asheville, NC.

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