H R Ewell Inc positions itself for economic revival
Sep 1, 2009 12:00 PM
H R Ewell continued...
TMT Fleet Maintenance is now used by the carrier to manage preventive maintenance schedules, parts inventories, fuel and tire usage, mechanic hours, billing, and warranty recovery. The software also enhances the ability of H R Ewell to manage breakdowns, inspections, and outside vendor work with better oversight of costs and operations performance.
The carrier has made Shop Planner, TMT INterActive (TINA) mechanic workstations and Advanced Warranty Recapture capabilities part of its maintenance software toolkit. Shop Planner coordinates and tracks repair schedules for equipment routed to company or vendor facilities, allowing management to monitor workload within the shop.
TINA is an interactive task management and time collection system for the shop foreman and employees. Warranty Management is designed to increase the recovery of warranty dollars in normal maintenance operations. It captures information that supports failed-parts analysis, claims preparation, and claims analysis.
Sheeler acknowledges that mechanics faced a learning curve when the maintenance software was installed, and it was steep for some of them. However, all of the mechanics were able to master the system, and none of them quit.
In short order, the software was put to work to automate tracking of the maintenance lifecycle. Many man-hours went into building the maintenance history database. Pulling previously filed paper invoices to track down work and costs is now a thing of the past. Repair order history reports are a standard feature, along with master parts and warranty claim reports.
“We're very excited about the benefits of this software,” Sheeler says. “From a company standpoint, we're able to manage and measure productivity and provide better training. I've used TMT and TMW software for the past seven years at two other companies, and I've seen the value of the product.
“The historical data showed almost immediate benefits. Previously, we could pull two system tractors into the shop for repair. We might go back and look at clutch jobs and warranty information and discover that on one truck we had spent thousands more than on the other. This software has the functionality to show just how much we are spending on any vehicle at any given time.”
Sheeler also says the software should enable H R Ewell to save $100,000 in inventory costs over one year. “Analysis with the software has shown that it will be cost effective for us to do 80% of engine and transmission rebuilds in-house,” he says. “We also project a reduction of 30% in the number of tires we need to keep on hand. The analytical capabilities of the software are even showing which geographic areas are hardest on tires, and we are changing some routes to avoid the rough roads.”
Use of the TMT Fleet Maintenance software isn't limited to only tractors and trailers. H R Ewell also is using the software for inventory management in its wash rack and for corporate office supplies. “Proper inventory control means managing all aspects of an operation, not just tractor and trailer parts,” Sheeler says.
Kosher certified, the wash rack performs several hundred foodgrade tank cleanings each month. Wash rack workers also do approximately 500 exterior washes per month. “Cleaning is critical to us as a foodgrade carrier,” Sheeler says. “We want the outside of the tank to look as clean as the inside.”
Three tank wash bays are available — two dedicated to sweeteners and one for chocolate and vegetable oil — and are served by a vat-style Sani-Matic cleaning system with Sellers Model 360 spinners. A major upgrade of the computerized control system was completed in early 2008.
H R Ewell also converted the boilers in the wash rack to methane fuel as part of its green initiative. To obtain methane for the boilers, the carrier worked with two local landfills. Twenty-one miles of pipe was put down to transfer methane from the landfills to the wash rack.
“Certainly this is a tough economy, but we believe it is critical to continue reinvesting in this company even as others are just cutting costs,” Sheeler says. “It's all about preparing for future growth and opportunity.”
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