construction fleet management

How integration took parts ordering from chaos to 1 click

R.C. Construction fleet team automates parts from work order to invoice with TN360 ACM asset management software and Gearflow Parts Hub Pro.


It only took David Miller, the parts and facilities manager at R.C. Construction, about a week into his new job to realize he couldn’t continue like this.

Miller is responsible for sourcing parts for their equipment fleet while balancing both the economics and downtime at their Fayetteville, N.C., shop. As a former aviation fleet manager for 20 years for the U.S. Army, he used to “eat, breathe, and sleep maintenance,” … so it’s not like he wasn’t familiar with the requirements of the role.

It was just the chaos.

His days were immediately filled with teammates constantly calling or coming up to him, bombarding him with parts requests and trying to sift through the details of the verbal back and forth.

“When I started, it was literally, ‘Hey, Dave, I need this,’” Miller says. “That ends up being a he said, she said thing. ‘Hey, I told parts I needed this’ … when you never told me that. I had to put a stop to that.”

R.C. Construction automates parts ordering

R.C. Construction's shop is based in Fayetteville, N.C. // Source: R.C. Construction

Since then, Miller and the fleet team have been on a mission to improve not only their parts ordering process but also the entire way they manage equipment for R.C. Construction, which specializes in infrastructure for airports and military installations, as well as concrete paving for airfields.

The changes began incrementally at first, eventually leading to an integration with their asset management software TN360 ACM, formerly known as Qtanium Connect by Teletrac Navman, and Gearflow Parts Hub Pro, allowing them to completely automate their parts ordering process with their fleet team and vendors.

Bonus: Reducing the parts request flow to mere seconds has created the space for Miller and his team to identify and implement other efficiencies as well.

Putting an End to the Chaos

The first step Miller took on this journey was to start formally documenting all parts requests with forms he created for the shop technicians.

He also leaned into his aviation industry experience from the Army and stopped taking verbal requests from field or mobile technicians, asking that they be submitted via text or email.

“Going back to my aviation days, everything was done in writing,” he says. “If we're working on aircraft and we use the torque wrench, in our write ups we had to write down the serial number of the torque wrench and the calibration dates, so everything was very, very well tracked.”

Initially, Miller’s documentation efforts were met with resistance and skepticism.

“I got some pushback, but it helped,” he says. “I don't want to say it helped streamline the process, because it added a step to the process. But it did standardize the process.”

He also set up hours of operation for parts request intake and ordering, leaving the last hour of the day for reconciliation.

With this move to document all requests, Miller began to manage all the details of the parts ordering process in a spreadsheet. At least now, he could verify who was requesting what and when, but it didn’t solve all his problems.

“That got very labor intensive on my side,” Miller says.

So he kept on searching for a better way forward.

Streamlining the Process

In 2023, TN360 ACM added the ability for technicians to note the parts required for a particular job. This became the new way parts requests came through to Miller and Tyler Wread, one of the shop technicians that assists with the parts ordering process.

Now, requests were flowing into the parts team in a unified way. However, Miller and Wread still found themselves overwhelmed trying to get orders out to their vendors and manage where orders stood, all while moving fast.

“At that time, it was he and I constantly on the phone, constantly doing this, constantly doing that,” Miller says. “We would duplicate our orders. Even worse is that orders would get lost or not be actioned on.”

R.C. Construction parts management

The R.C. Construction fleet team has been on a mission to improve not only their parts ordering process but also the entire way they manage their equipment. // Source: R.C. Construction

About that time, in the fall of 2023, Miller attended his first Association of Equipment Management Professionals conference. There, he was motivated by how other equipment managers were measuring KPIs and automating their parts ordering.

He sat down with his director of equipment, Mark Zehm, and laid out a plan.

“I had the experience building and tracking KPIs,” Miller says. “I told Mark, ‘Look, I can do this – it's not hard to do, but I don't have the time to do it.’”

Miller saw Gearflow Parts Hub Pro as the solution to put their parts ordering on autopilot.

“So I told Mark we can try this out,” he says. “It's cheaper than hiring a third parts person, and I don't have to train another parts person. Plus, it's going to help automate, track, and streamline processes.”

With Parts Hub Pro, fleet teams can manage their entire parts ordering process in one platform, allowing them to:

  • Submit one-click requests to all vendors
  • Consolidate all parts-related communications
  • Reduce parts fulfillment time
  • Control costs
  • Improve fleet reliability

About a month after implementing Parts Hub Pro, Miller realized he could get even more efficient by integrating with TN360 ACM.

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Find out how you can cut calls to vendors by 50% and handle parts requests in half the time with a Gearflow Parts Hub Pro integration to your asset management software.


Hitting the Easy Button for Requests

The integration enables technicians' parts needs to flow right from TN360 to Parts Hub Pro.

Then, Miller and Wread review the requests and send them to their vendors with Parts Hub Pro, which they use to manage all parts orders across their mixed fleet in one place.

Technicians are also notified every step of the way, via text or email, about where their parts requests stand. They no longer need to call and check on the status of an order.

Once an order is fulfilled, the details are pushed back to the work order in TN360 ACM.

This eliminates duplicate data entry and frees up time for Miller and Wread to focus on more valuable uses of their time. This includes more time for proactive planning for Miller and more wrench time for Wread.

“The time savings is a real thing,” Miller says. “Because now I can concentrate on new aspects of my job. And if the shop starts getting backed up, Tyler can go and help turn wrenches still.”

With his extra time, Miller has helped establish over a dozen shop KPIs that include PM compliance, a maintenance backlog, schedule compliance, and work order open and close rates. He’s also working more closely with their operations manager, Rich Stanek, to coordinate maintenance schedules.

R.C. Construction shop

Reducing the parts request flow to mere seconds has created the space for the R.C. Construction fleet team to identify and implement other efficiencies as well. // Source: R.C. Construction

Another improvement Miller, along with shop foreman Eli Center, had space to tackle is rearranging their shop flow, adding an equipment triage area, and assigning distinct areas and responsibilities to technicians. The last 30 minutes of every day are now spent cleaning up their bays and putting away tools and parts inventory, with a more thorough cleaning for an hour to end the week.

With the insights that Miller gets through the Parts Hub Pro and TN360 ACM integration, he has also reduced the parts inventory they stock, limiting it primarily to PM kits.

Miller continues to draw from his Army experience with his newfound availability to take proactive steps for their team to grow and improve.

Gearflow Parts Hub Pro

The R.C. Construction fleet team uses Gearflow Parts Hub Pro to manage all parts orders across their mixed fleet in one place. // Source: R.C. Construction

In fact, R.C. Construction is now training a new mobile technician and developing a plan to hire three mobile PM technicians to more effectively handle increasing maintenance needs at their jobs, which are spreading from the Southeast as far north as Wisconsin.

He’s also focused on growing himself professionally. This year, he obtained his Equipment Manager Specialist certificate through AEMP and is studying to take his Certified Equipment Manager exam in a few months.

But perhaps the biggest win is that as his job has become less chaotic and stressful, Miller’s entire energy and outlook have changed for the better. So much so that he is sharing how much of a game-changer automating parts ordering is with other contractors he knows.

“I’m telling people just do it,” he says. “Go for it. It’s going to help.”

 

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