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Brian Belec, the Purchasing / Service Administrator from Meakin Forest Products in Sault Ste Marie, Ontario has been using the Mechanic's Edge for the last three years. Brian uses the system to track work orders on his fleet of 40+ equipment units and trucks, and to keep track of all the parts he uses on each unit. He also relies on the system as a tool for keeping his parts purchase information organized and easily accessible so that he can easily check the last supplier from which he bought a particular part, what he last paid for it, etc.
We asked Brian what he viewed as the biggest benefit that the Mechanic's Edge has brought to his organization. "It gives us access to data that we never had before, and it's right there at my fingertips. I can tell the owners what parts we used on which units, what outside services we had performed, how many labor hours we spent, and exactly what each unit is costing us." Such information is critical, of course, for making decisions about whether and when to replace a unit with a newer model.
Before getting the Mechanic's Edge, information tracking and record-keeping was strictly a manual process, with hand-written notes included in binders or files for each unit. "So many details were getting lost before we had The Mechanic's Edge in place. We were not capturing the full picture of what we did on each unit. Now, everything is organized and consistent, and I can double-check that the part numbers and labor hours have been captured, and that all our work notes have been recorded in the system." Such organization and completeness is especially important for on-road haul trucks, where Meakin must maintain detailed service records in case of an audit.
The Mechanic's Edge has also helped Meakin keep tighter control over their parts costs. The software allows them to maintain a cross-reference between OEM parts and their less expensive, off-brand counterparts. Before implementing The Mechanic's Edge, it was very time-consuming to dig through files to figure out what off-brand part they used instead of the OEM part, and which supplier carried that off-brand part. Often, they would end up purchasing the more costly OEM part simply because it was too inefficient to track down the information from the last purchase.
We asked Brian if the benefit he's obtained from the software in terms of time savings, parts cost savings, and accountability has exceeded the cost of the software. His response, without hesitation: "Absolutely it has!"
Henry Dyck, with Knelsen Sand & Gravel Ltd., located in La Crete, Alberta, began working with The Mechanics Edge in September of 2010. After 6 months of working with the system, the users at Knelsen are still discovering new features, and ways to make it work for their particular needs.
Knelsen purchased the system with the goal of keeping track of all their equipment costs. Henry says that they have definitely realized that goal over the last few months. As work is completed on a given machine, they enter the work done and the parts used for that machine on a work order in The Mechanic's Edge. The software allows them to keep track of parts costs as well as labor costs associated with all work performed. This information is easily searchable by machine, date range, etc. and is also accessible in reports that provide them with a complete history of maintenance and repairs performed on each unit. Knelsen is currently in the process of filling out equipment "spec sheets" that list all the specific filters and other parts needed for that machine. They are also exploring reporting options in the software to help them observe patterns about what parts are most frequently used and re-used on each machine.
In addition to the accessibility of historic maintenance information, one of the biggest benefits Knelsen has realized from The Mechanic's Edge is the speed at which they can retrieve information on their parts inventory. Henry and his bosses are now able to get inventory and costing information from wherever they are by accessing The Mechanic's Edge, and they can easily see what parts they have on hand, what parts they need to restock, and what they paid for the parts the last time they purchased them.
Dennis Foran with Foran Equipment, Ltd. in Crossfield, Alberta has been using the Mechanic's Edge system to manage the scheduled maintenance on his fleet of heavy equipment and trucks for the last couple years. He uses the software for automating the tracking of due dates on his scheduled maintenance events such as his 10,000 and 20,000 kilometre services on his trucks and trailers, and his 250 hour services on his equipment units.
Dennis realized he needed to get an automated system for managing his maintenance scheduling because his fleet had grown to the point where it was no longer feasible to rely on a manual, paper-driven and memory-driven tracking system. With such a sizeable investment in his equipment, he could no longer afford to get by with an unstructured, ad hoc maintenance scheduling system. Now that he has the Mechanic's Edge, he can run reports within the system to see what services are coming due (or overdue) for each machine, and he has the peace of mind of knowing that he's taking proactive care of his fleet.
Dennis said that the Mechanic's Edge has also provided him with a consistent record-keeping system for documenting his maintenance events in case of an audit. He enters all his equipment work orders into the system, and while he does keep a hard copy of the work order in his binders for each unit, he likes having the ability to quickly call up the history for any given piece of equipment on the computer.
Randale Sewell with Parnell Inc. in Maplesville, Alabama began working with The Mechanics Edge at the end of February 2010. Within one month of starting with The Mechanics Edge, Randale was proficient with the software and was using it effectively in his day-to-day dealings in the shop. By the end of April, Parnell was tracking nearly 500 different parts stocked in their shop and/or used on machines, and Randale is continually adding new parts into the software.
Parnell first purchased The Mechanics Edge with the expectation that it would help them track the costs of maintaining their equipment. Within two months of having the system installed in their shop, they have realized that goal, and much more.
The Mechanics Edge bar code scanning functionality allows Randale to effectively enter and search for items in their large, and continually growing parts catalog. This feature provides him with fast access to information about parts, and allows him to enter his parts information onto work orders much more quickly than if he had to key in each part number. Even with the handy drop-down and type-ahead features in the software, nothing is as fast as using a bar code scanner. Even more important than the time savings is the degree to which scanning technology is able to reduce the chances of error when entering or retrieving data.
Randale is now able to track which of his crews are using parts, and who, in particular is taking them. Prior to adopting The Mechanic's Edge, Randale relied on a sign-out notebook that each crew was supposed to use when taking parts from the shop. Now, Randale is able to enter the information into The Mechanic's Edge immediately, bypassing the pen and paper altogether, and making his records much more complete and his parts inventory records up to date. He can now see exactly which crew used which parts from the shop, even if they did not specifically make out a work order for a particular machine with that part on it. The parts inventory tracking feature and shopping list reports allow Randale to see when he needs to restock parts, so he doesn't need to physically count parts in his inventory nearly as often.
Parnell's next step is to work with the scheduled maintenance feature of the system, which will allow them to track the future maintenance tasks of their equipment automatically, giving them reminders of when maintenance events are due on each unit.
Brian Ahart from Dick Walsh Forest Products, Inc. in Park Rapids, Minnesota has been using the Mechanic's Edge software for the last three years. The company had implemented Caribou's Logger's Edge software system two years earlier. According to Brian, "We saw the benefits and ease of use of the Logger's Edge system for tracking our timber harvesting work, and were pleased with Caribou's support, so it just made sense to see if Caribou had a system we could use to help us track our shop work as well."
Brian's primary objective with the system was to implement an electronic maintenance record-keeping system for his fleet of 30+ trucks, trailers, and heavy equipment units. The Mechanic's Edge essentially serves as his electronic filing cabinet for all his work orders, and according to Brian, one of the biggest benefits he's reaped from the software is the organization it has brought to his shop. All his records about equipment model numbers, parts usage, labor hours, and all his detailed descriptions of work performed are all in one spot now. "The software is easy to use, and it definitely helps keep me much more organized than I was before, which results in big time-savings for me. If I need to look up a part number to figure out where I bought it from last, I just click a button and look up my last purchase in the software. Plus, it helps me do price comparisons more efficiently and use my lowest cost suppliers whenever I can."
For Walsh Forest Products, the benefits of having a good maintenance record-keeping system extend beyond the day to day organization and cost savings that it has introduced for Brian's work as a mechanic. For example, it allows him to provide accurate feedback to the owners about the service history on any given equipment unit to help them make informed decisions about replacing older machines with newer models. Plus, it's helpful to have such detailed historic records when they are ready to sell a unit because they can show the potential buyer a professional-looking summary of the service and repair work that's been performed on the unit.