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A Chat With a CEM: Craig Worrell, CEM - Mass Excavation

Wednesday, October 24, 2018   (0 Comments)
Posted by: AEMP
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EM: Was there something you’ve learned from AEMP education or learned from a peer at a conference that has helped you as a fleet manager, and how?


Over the last 10 years as an AEMP member I have been exposed to some amazing fleet managers and education that has influenced me at every turn. I have a lot of pride in AEMP and take opportunities where I can to guide others to it.


Gil Gilbert, CEM is by far one of the most influential and authentic fleet masters I have come into contact with. He took the time to talk to a young struggling technician who had just accepted a job he knew nothing about. He helped mentor and answer questions as time went on. Gil was not the only one who helped along the way though. There were countless points of contacts made at each AEMP event and they led to networks that had a huge impact on my career path and the choices I made for my small but growing fleet.


Every fleet manager had something they excelled in. Whether it was equipment specific, preventative maintenance or financials, they all brought something to the table that I could take back with me and use or integrate, sometimes immediately.


Every event brings new, important topics that contain great information about upcoming regulations or technology that is and will be impacting fleets as a whole. The questions that surface during the sessions shed light from many angles that I may or may not have thought of on my own.


It was at the meeting in March 2017 when Tim Kight, President and Founder of Focus 3, or TK as he is known on his podcasts, spoke as the keynote.  His session was the most impactful of all the AEMP conferences for me. I was searching for the piece I needed to pull my team together and I found it in his E+R=O presentation. It’s embarrassing to admit but I truly did not know how lacking I was in the leadership department and what great leadership means to the team. After listening to TK and his presentation I dove in head first. It was almost immediate and the new found energy was palpable. It helped lead our growing safety culture to 1435 days without an accident -- and we are still going!


In this industry where we work around equipment that can easily hurt you on a daily basis, I am very proud of my group and what they have accomplished. The company as a whole has also come together and implemented some of these ideas and principles in the field where they have improved our safety record.


Without the AEMP I would not have had the exposure to the individuals and opportunities that I have at this point in my career.


EM: Describe your team’s most significant achievement that represents excellence in fleet management.


Labor efficiencies and conflict resolution are the first things that come to mind. They stem from safe practices, teamwork and unity from leadership. As a rule, if we see someone failing we pull together for the win which is reflected in the work product and keeps good work flow. We have also honed our skills in conflict resolution so we can move through potentially uncomfortable or volatile situations with the field crews or in the shop. This equates to time savings, job efficiency and cost savings in the form of fewer restrictions and friction from poor attitudes. Another benefit is that the “us” versus “them” mentality we struggled with in the past is almost all but gone. It is something that new employees commonly comment on soon after joining the organization.  

EM: What types of benchmarking are you using and how are you utilizing the metrics to evaluate your success?


We implemented extended oil drain intervals approximately nine years ago. We started like most with a small test group and a high oil sampling frequency. Our break room was full of brand-new dissected filters from almost every OEM vendor in our local area. We experimented with changing filters and oil out at different intervals accompanied with an oil sample each time. When enough data was collected through sampling to see how the oil and filters would respond under different conditions, we moved to the whole fleet. 


We standardized the oil and filters which brought our first big savings to the PM program. We have been able to double our intervals with a high level of confidence and predictability. The metrics from this process have helped us cut our preventive maintenance costs dramatically. The other great benefit from a lot of the sampling has been the warranty coverage through our local dealers and OEMs. They can see the effort we go through to take care of the assets which is just the tip of the iceberg of our overall program but is a major piece and instills confidence that we are good partners in the Equipment Triangle.  

EM: Describe how your team excels in preventive maintenance.

When I first inherited the fleet it was in awful repair. Grease was happening once a week at best and oil was checked after the engine already had an issue. Our first three years was a rebuild, repair or replace period. Financially it was very distressing to the ownership and put the maintenance program, or lack thereof, under a lot of scrutiny.


My team and I built the PM structure that we still use today, we continually monitor but the core remains the same. It is a series of spreadsheets that are linked and as you enter the hours on the first sheet the last sheets provide a schedule.  It shows what is coming up for service and what type of service is required as well as what may be overdue. Mike Sanger, who works hand in hand with me operating the fleet, developed the entire system with input from our Master technician, OEMs and fleet staff.  


EM: What is your biggest challenge in technology?


I struggle with finding the best third-party system for our fleet when the office uses two different brands of accounting software. We face some difficulty with our job sites having no cell service or having very poor cell service. The ROI has never worked in our favor until recently with the cost of technology dropping, coverage areas getting better, and others being able to connect to our current accounting system. We spend a lot of labor hours trying to round up the data daily, weekly, monthly just so we can do it all over again. Our company is moving methodically forward towards a technology solution and I think it will change our landscape tremendously.


EM: What is the greatest cost savings you’ve managed using digital technology?


Text transfer threads for our drivers and expediters has been the least expensive option for tracking equipment moves that we have found. The low cost, coupled with custom group text threads put together and executed by our equipment coordinator Mike Sanger, has proven to be very effective.


Each text from the drivers or expediters simply has the unit number, to and from location, and the hours on the unit. The day and time are of course recorded as soon as you hit send. At the end of the month we simply transfer the texts to a hard copy and can use it for back up in billing the jobs or to show where the unit was.


The text transfer time is just a couple of labor hours and gives Mike the opportunity to review all transfers closely. This method is easily searchable and anyone can have the information whenever it’s needed. We can also add or subtract people from the threads if necessary. 


Everyone gets the information at the same time and can chime in if we need to change location or stop an expensive equipment move. We are not spread out over a couple states and have simple road systems here in Alaska. When we set up a job, especially a remote location, we don’t bring the piece back until we are finished at the site or the piece is done and it makes sense to pull it. 


We haven’t started using GPS tracking on our equipment as many areas have little or no cell service which makes it impractical. We are getting closer to using a third party system with GPS as the cell towers are being upgraded, but for now this is our tried and true system. 


EM: What is your biggest challenge in safety?


New employees present the biggest challenge for the shop. We have the “Davis and Mass” way of doing things which originates with safety first, last, and throughout. We have been 1435 day’s accident free for the shop, and our field counterparts are close behind us. Compliance is not a problem once they see that we are leading the charge and it is the expectation when on duty. Many of them are not used to a construction company that follows strict safety standards and methods. We have safety luncheons and incorporate everyone on site to celebrate the job progress and a clean safety record. This continues to tie them into the beliefs and safety culture of our company.

EM: What is your most cost-saving measure in safety?


Safety glasses and gloves go hand in hand -- so to speak. I have seen many eye-strikes and have had enough near misses reported for penetrating or slashing to a gloved hand. We always provide these items along with ear plugs, safety clothing for work on road ways, cold weather gear, hard hats, etc.


Investing in the easy to use items that dramatically reduce injuries is always our biggest cost saving measure and will continue to be. Finding something that works for everyone is certainly a challenge but well worth the effort when it keeps our work force safe.

EM: What is your biggest challenge in workforce development or recruitment?


The biggest challenge is finding the replacements to our current ageing workforce. It’s important that the replacements see the value in what it is we do as fleet professionals and all the jobs we manage.


It’s no secret that we are all challenged with filling these positions as they aren’t as popular to the new generations as they previously were. As technology evolves around equipment it may help retain more of the young talent. We also have to look to ourselves to mentor and guide our young professoinals.


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