Michigan CAT is able to remotely link with its customers’ equipment through global positioning system (GPS) equipment in order to monitor when preventive maintenance needs to be done. This feature also monitors the location of the machine and fault codes on the machine. The feature is part of Caterpillar’s Product Link computer system, which allows the user of the machine to monitor its performance and location. The Product Link service is offered on new Caterpillar equipment that is purchased as part of Michigan CAT’s preventive maintenance program.
“We offer a 36-month, 2,000-hour standard preventive maintenance package with every machine we sell. We present this to the customer at the time of sale. If they sign up up front when they purchase the machine, we give them a reduced rate. Generally, we roll it into the financing of the machine,” Mike Lazzara, product support sales manager for Michigan CAT, said.
“That gives the customer the ability to run their machine for the first three years with the maintenance being done, so that they have the peace of mind that their machine is running at its optimum performance. This enables the contractor to do what they do best. They leave the machine maintenance to the experts. They don’t have to worry about doing the maintenance on the machine.”
Lazzara explained that one-year to five-year preventive maintenance agreements can be purchased at the current price, which avoids future price increases.
“If a customer has this preventive maintenance program, it will provide them with a better resale value for the equipment,” Lazzara said. Michigan CAT maintains the maintenance records. The dealer services Cat and competitive brands of equipment. A good maintenance program will improve productivity, machine availability and operating costs.
“One of the biggest benefits is availability. We will have a technician looking over the customer’s machine and preventing a catastrophic problem. That’s the beauty of it. There is a trained set of eyes coming out and looking the customer’s machine over and if the technician sees something going awry or if there is something in the oil sample that comes back and says something needs to be attended to, we’ll advise the customer of that. We’ll alert customers so that hopefully, we can catch something before trouble occurs,” Lazzara said.
Michigan CAT performs a 250-hour service, a 500-hour service, a 1,000-hour service, and a 2,000-hour service. The service can be performed on site or at a Michigan CAT dealer. Service can be done at a discounted rate if the customer agrees to have the work performed at the dealer. Lazzara explained what the Product Link feature means for their customers.
“Our vision is that if you purchase a new machine from Michigan CAT, you’ll have Product Link on it. If you sign up with us to have the preventive maintenance done on it for the first three years, you can go ahead and run your business and we’ll take care of your machine remotely for you. We’ll schedule the repairs at a convenient time for you,” Lazzara said.
“The customer does not have to contact us to provide us with the location of the machine and the number of hours on the machine.” Lazzara explained that having the maintenance contracted out provides certain benefits for the contractor.
“We do the services when they need to be done. A lot of times a contractor will get behind on a job and they just don’t have time to shut a machine down. Before they know it, a machine has missed a couple of services. Our job is to track and make sure the machines are being serviced when they need to be serviced. Also, the services are done to manufacturer’s specifications. We don’t shortcut anything; we make sure that we go over all of the checkpoints that are called for from the manufacturer so that when we are done with that service, the contractor knows that they’ve had their machine serviced by the book,” Lazzara said.
Metro Sanitation, of Warren, MI, does construction refuse collection and has Michigan CAT service its Cat 966 loader, Cat 826 landfill compactor, Cat 416 backhoe, and Cat 320L excavator. Joe Adams, shop supervisor for Metro Sanitation, said that Metro Sanitation has been doing preventive maintenance with Michigan CAT since approximately 1998.
“It works out very well for us because they are flexible with their scheduling. I don’t have to stop the equipment. It can work when it needs to work, and they will schedule to come in around my schedule. They will schedule to come in when the equipment is not working. It makes it convenient for me,” Adams said.