With new blood comes new ideas.
Devin Bell, logistics manager at Mid-South Roof Systems — a Georgia-based commercial roofing company specializing in large industrial facilities and warehousing space with low-slope roofs — knew that one of his primary jobs would be total management of the company’s equipment rental fleet.
It’s not a small task, and it could be a time-consuming one at that, given the volume of equipment involved.
His predecessor used a spreadsheet to capture all this critical information. According to Bell — it wasn’t a bad system — but it wasn’t going to work for him. “I took over for the person who used to manage the rental fleet. It was just one of his many responsibilities, but it easily took up half to three-quarters of his time,” said Bell, who has been with MSRS for just over six years. “He was used to it, but I simply didn’t have the time to put tons of information into that spreadsheet. So, when they asked me to take it on with my other roles, I knew I needed some organizational tool to handle this because I couldn’t afford to spend half my time – or more – solely on fleet management.”
Although the type of equipment Bell rents is somewhat limited — it’s primarily comprised of forklifts and man-lifts, along with some dumpsters and toilets — it’s still an arduous job, given the amount of equipment the company requires. “We’re renting upwards of 75-100 pieces of equipment at a time, and it’s a huge job to keep track of what’s where and what needs to come off rent and where we are with budgets,” Bell said. “Plus, as one of the top commercial roofing contractors in the U.S., we can have anywhere from 15-30 jobs going at a time all around the country.”
Multiple Vendors Complicate Things
Adding to the complexity is the fact that MSRS, which rents all its equipment, works with multiple vendors, helping them identify the most competitive prices. However, the number of vendors makes effective fleet management exponentially harder. What’s more, equipment shortages, as well as the difficulty vendors often have in getting parts to service their machinery, means that having a stable of reputable vendors to choose from is a must.
He turned to YARDZ, an advanced platform with functionality that allows roofers to do anything from ordering equipment to performing call-offs to allocating assets. Bell needed some form of automated assistance and remembered a product demo a few years ago that just didn’t suit the previous manager, who passed on the opportunity.
“Once I took charge of equipment rentals, I decided to take another look, and I was very impressed,” Bell said. “I wanted to have a single, user-friendly resource to know what I’ve rented, who I rented it from, and where it’s at.”
Bell uses the platform for tasks geared toward running fleet operations more accurately, efficiently and conveniently. He and two production managers primarily use it for ordering equipment. “Once the reservation is secured, it lands on the job site, and YARDZ automatically imports the information that evening,” he explained. “It does the same for all our vendor websites, allowing me to see the current status of all our orders.”
Bell is also automatically notified when a piece of equipment is overdue. He then gets the option to change the notification date or do a call-off. One recent update includes the ability to conduct remote equipment inspections. Because OSHA requires companies like MSRS to perform these critical inspections daily, Bell sees this as a significant resource and said he’d be testing out further capabilities.
Telematics in the Future
While telematics is an attractive feature, Bell’s company is not quite ready for that transition. “Not all our vendors have telematics capabilities, but I do see that part of it growing significantly over time,” he noted. “Being able to track precise equipment location, along with a number of other parameters like fuel consumption and comprehensive engine data – is something we’re looking to incorporate into the platform.”
The platform is tailor-made for his company, specifically allowing Bell to click on a financial tab and see a projected percentage of the equipment budget spent for a specific project. All members of the team can see the status of the budgets on their respective projects in a summary email every morning.
“This isn’t standard to YARDZ, but they were willing to work with us to provide us with that capability,” he said. “It was a very cooperative process.”
Using it hourly, Bell said the ability to keep an accurate record of all equipment orders has proven the most useful, “I don’t have the resources or time to jump from vendor to vendor. YARDZ ‘magically’ pulls them all into one central location.
“I can’t give you a specific stat on productivity, but I would wager that there is anywhere from a 25% - 50% time savings between using YARDZ and the way the previous manager handled it. You can’t put a price on that.”