Construction fleets are unique in their vehicle fleet composition and operation. But, one commonality they have with most other fleets is the impact and cost of vehicle and equipment downtime.
The McKenna General Engineering, Inc., fleet consists of around 90 units, including 23 light- and medium-duty trucks, two SUVs, plus 60 pieces of heavy construction equipment, which includes scrapers, loaders, excavators, dozers, rollers, compaction equipment, and water towers.
Three of the fleet’s medium-duty vehicles are mechanics trucks (including a Dominator II mechanics truck with an IMT 10000 telescopic crane, a Dominator II mechanics truck with an IMT 6000 telescopic crane).
Additionally, the fleet operates one fuel truck and one low-bed hauler. The fuel truck is dispatched from the yard and visits multiple job sites each day to refill machines. The low-bed hauler is dispatched from the yard and is used to perform moves and part deliveries when necessary.
The fleet’s scrapers, loaders, excavators, dozers, compaction equipment, water towers, and rollers are used for site prep and engineering construction on residential, municipal, and commercial projects.
The Downtime Challenge
Founded in 2002, McKenna General Engineering, Inc. is a heavy engineering construction company based in Corona, Calif. And, as with any fleet, McKenna only makes money when its equipment is up and running.
“Because time is money in construction, any downtime negatively impacts the bottom line, costing everyone. When I need to fix a machine, I need the tooling, parts, and capabilities to make that repair, no matter where that machine happens to be,” explained Jason Caufield, VP of McKenna and manager of the fleet’s service trucks.
The solution? A mechanics truck with the right crane, welding equipment, parts storage, and tooling helps the company remain efficient and get broken-down machines and equipment up and running again.
“The equipment we have is expensive to move and we don’t have it in the budget for our jobs to be moving it, so it really needs to be repaired onsite. Usually, we can repair them ourselves within an hour,” Caufield said.
Mechanics trucks are dispatched to job sites for equipment service and repairs on those sites. Depending on the need, they can be driving between sites or on one site for an extended period.
“We try to use a mechanics truck to bring the workshop to the worksite. We proactively stock our mechanics trucks with the parts we know we’re going to be replacing most often. Because these repairs are just normal wear-and-tear items, not really damage so to speak, we know to stock small, simple components such as hoses, electrical switches, breakers, bolts, bolt bends, electrical switches, and sensors,” Caufield noted. “We also try to keep up with the latest technology on the trucks and maintain the trucks to the best of our ability. The reliability of the newer trucks is worth the investment because nobody wants to spend extra time servicing a service vehicle.”
Additionally, remote controls have made operating the mechanics trucks and service cranes much more efficient.
“Instead of having to climb on and around the truck to turn items on and operate them, the remote control consolidates these onto one device, saving time and hassle. Crane size and speed has made operations more efficient, and the shrinking size of air compressors has freed up more usable space for parts storage,” Caufield said.
The Bottom Line
In the end, if McKenna had to bring every out-of-service machine back to the yard, “it could put us out of business,” Caufield commented. “Not only would it cost us between $600 and $1,000 each way to transport a machine back to the yard, that’s time the machine is not working. And, because our area of operations includes all of California and occasionally jobs in Arizona and Nevada, that could cost us days of possible uptime. Instead, we make many of our repairs within an hour, and rarely does a machine go out of service for more than six hours.”