How technology can optimize machine maintenance and productivity
By Kevin Drake John Deere
March 6, 2018 - For a logger, machine uptime is one of the most critical factors to ensure productivity and profitability. In the past, loggers were dependent on daily walk-arounds and hand-written maintenance schedules to keep machines up and running. Today, forestry professionals can be far more effective by utilizing the latest in machine data technology.
Modern forestry equipment is designed with powerful telematics systems that provide loggers with constant visibility to their jobsites and machines. Through remote diagnostics and programming, owners and operators can constantly access machine health prognostics in almost real time. Loggers can no longer rely on a single daily check to keep machines running at maximum efficiency. Rather, progressive loggers should work closely with their equipment manufacturers and dealers to access data that keeps pace with the constant changes of their work environment and solve potential issues before downtime occurs.
There is a misconception that technology is complicated and difficult to use, leading some loggers to ignore solutions instead of taking advantage of the power available at their fingertips. In reality, technology is often very intuitive, and the solutions being offered by the leading equipment manufacturers are designed to simplify, not complicate, machine maintenance.
Through technology, owners have an insight to their machines that wasn’t available in the past. While an operator’s instinct and mechanical knowledge is still valuable, today’s machines are equipped with onboard hardware that constantly monitors the machine status, providing alerts about potential issues early. Through innovative telematics systems, such as John Deere’s JDLink system, loggers have visibility to the status of their machines at any point, from the jobsite or the office.
Telematics solutions provide owners with the information they need to optimize their machines and operations, ultimately increasing productivity and overall profitability. Through an easy-to-use dashboard, loggers can track important information from their entire fleet in one place:
· Machine efficiency – Using technology, owners can track machine efficiency, analyzing machine movement, fuel usage and production data, making it easier to identify areas where processes can be improved.
· Service intervals – Machine data technology improves maintenance, as service intervals can be captured within the system, giving owners a complete overview of upcoming maintenance to help them better prepare for planned downtime.
· Unplanned machine issues – The integration of telematics on equipment enables remote diagnostics and programming, alerting owners as soon as an issue occurs so it can be quickly addressed before it causes more costly repairs and downtime.
Telematics solutions take machine management to the next level, providing loggers the information they need to plan for the future at a moment’s notice.
Technology by itself offers limited value – it must be paired with support from equipment dealers and manufacturers. With increased technology comes a need to interpret, analyze and act upon the data it provides. With smartphone apps, owners and operators have the ability to access some of that information at their fingertips. But where loggers find the real benefit of technology is when they partner with their local dealer. By proactively analyzing the data provided by machine technology, modern equipment dealers are preventing many problems before they occur.
If a problem does occur, dealers now have the ability to troubleshoot remotely. With remote diagnostics, a technician can arrive at the jobsite knowing what problem to address and with the right part in hand. This minimizes costly downtime and unnecessary travel time – increasing logger productivity and profitability.
With all of these advantages, many loggers today are relying on equipment dealers for more than just equipment sales and repairs. Many find that enrolling in a preventative maintenance program has been a great way to add efficiency to their business.
Having preventative maintenance performed by the dealer can create a variety of benefits to logging operations. Factory trained technicians, utilizing the latest in machine technology, can typically complete service tasks much faster than those who do not do it every day. Machines are serviced using factory specified parts and lubricants, keeping the machine performing at peak levels. Routine maintenance can be scheduled at off-peak times to maintain production schedules. Logging crews can remain focused on revenue generating tasks like cutting and hauling while leaving non-revenue generating tasks of maintenance to the equipment dealers.
Moreover, when it comes time to trade out of that machine, owners are able to present a machine with a documented history of factory specified maintenance care, thus increasing the resale value. All of this is made easier and faster with integrated machine technology that is quickly becoming the standard for high production logging operations today.
Driving the future of machines
Understanding the opportunities presented by telematics, equipment manufacturers (OEMs) have started to take advantage of technology by collecting and analyzing fleet data, helping to improve the machines of tomorrow. Using the data flowing in from thousands of connected machines, OEMs are capturing data and uncovering machine trends. At John Deere, this information is being utilized in the Machine Health Monitoring Center, a centrally located centre staffed with analysts examining machine data. This information provides input to manufacturing and design processes for future machines and for continuous product improvements on current production machines. This information can also be used to develop new and improved preventative maintenance processes, or create machine repair protocols, increasing the productivity of existing machines.
The forestry industry is rapidly evolving, and with technology loggers are able to make informed decisions that can positively impact their business. Not so long ago machine maintenance required loggers to track schedules by hand and sometimes shut a machine down for days while waiting for a service technician to travel to the jobsite, costing the business time and money. With the power of technology, operators can optimize machines, taking their business to the next level by minimizing downtime and increasing productivity, ensuring long-term success.
Kevin Drake is manager of customer product support for John Deere Forestry.