One Stop Fleet Management

Nov. 1, 2001
Asset management is one of the biggest challenges in today's complex construction market and lies beyond the core competencies of most rental companies,

Asset management is one of the biggest challenges in today's complex construction market and lies beyond the core competencies of most rental companies, distributors, manufacturers and contractors alike. Earthking, a subsidiary of Terex, has put together an alliance with several other web sites — Fleetedge, TaskPoint, EK Pass (Performance and Safety Solutions), I.T. Rapid Solutions, Source-Right, eConstructionParts and SAM (Surplus Asset Marketplace) — to create a virtual online fleet-management community. RER recently spoke with EarthKing's vice president of marketing Norbert Dudek.

RER: How did Earthking come into existence?

Dudek: It's a subsidiary of Terex and is financed by Terex, however it is operating as a standalone profit center, and is fully unbiased in terms of our connection to Terex. Our customer base is the construction and mining industry, not the Terex customer. In order for our business to succeed, we need to be as unbiased as possible, and we have the full authority to deal with any type of product we like. We are a one-stop shop for managing the customer's equipment, focusing on reducing the cost of equipment ownership throughout the whole product life-cycle including acquisition, management and disposal.

RER: What are some of the other allied services?

Dudek: The first one is the fleet management service, and this is not necessarily in order of importance, although fleet management is the driver for other services that we offer. It's for contractors and rental companies and even OEMs to make sense of what they have in their fleets. Take, for example, somebody with 200 or 250 pieces of equipment in their fleet. One comment we got was, “we have information but we don't know what to do with it.” We put what we call a black box in each piece, which allows customers to track their machines by the hour, by hours run, by location, or by various sensors that monitor the machines and indicate if there are problems. Information gets relayed back to the owner by satellite, cell phone, beepers, in whatever form they want.

At the end of the day, the owner looks at reports provided to him by means of a Web interface, and the customer can identify the lemons, in other words, machines whose productivity is below cost. The cost is too high and the productivity is too low. They can look at their fleet and find discrepancies in terms of productivity, which would mean either the machine is not good, or the operator running the machine is not as well-versed as he should be. Operator training may be required to bring him up to speed and to improve productivity.

RER: You provide that training as well?

Dudek: We offer very customized training. It doesn't focus just on the machine, but on productivity. We offer hands-on training, operator training, train-the-trainer programs, policy creation and training assessment for particular customers. The whole training program is geared toward productivity. We can train on any piece of equipment, Terex, Cat, Ingersoll-Rand, whatever. Our ratio is one instructor to two students. Classroom sizes normally go up to six maximum, which would have three instructors, and three pieces of equipment. It varies, but we don't want 50 people with one instructor and one piece of equipment and 49 people standing around.

RER: What about used equipment disposal?

Dudek: We utilize and leverage the Internet to customize web sites for customers, listing all the used machines they want to get rid of, enabling them to directly communicate with potential end users who can put bids and purchase equipment on the web site. We drive traffic to the site, but even though services are offered online, we still have a sales force out there shaking hands and talking to people, because it's still that kind of business.

RER: Parts is another of your services?

Dudek: Yes, an online parts business. You can look the parts up by number or by description. You can buy it online, and don't have to pick up the phone. We pre-qualify customers with credit limits. We have pre-approved thousands of potential customers. We offer used parts, refurbished parts, generic parts, whatever people are looking for. It's a true comparative shopping experience. That's the other channel to help people manage assets.

Another service is industry supplies and consumables. We have about 150,000 products there. Also, we have equipment sourcing, an online business taking care of small equipment, such as portable gensets, walk-behind compactors, and portable compressors. We also have IT consultation. All these services, fleet management, operator training, parts, industry supplies, equipment sourcing, used equipment and IT services, that pretty much encompasses what you need to run your fleet.