Tools, vehicles, lifts, computers, and cranes are all examples of plant and equipment: tangible assets used by service companies to deliver service. In most cases, plant and equipment is essential to carry out work and earn the business income directly for their time usage.
However, many service organisations do not track and manage their equipment efficiently. Although it carries a real cost and return value into the business, all too often equipment is underused, left behind, not charged out, or it simply “disappears”.
Why do so many service companies fail to manage equipment efficiently?
Many service companies rely on this equipment, so why, exactly, do they fail to manage it? The answer we hear too often is that it is too cumbersome or difficult to manage. Consider the following example: John has a splicer, but gives it to Andrew, who uses it on a job and then hands it to Fred to use on his job tomorrow. Before you know it, the splicer is missing and the business needs to purchase a new one. Sound familiar? Often, staff in the office struggle to answer questions such as who has the equipment, whether it was used or not, and whether it should it be used due to the fluid nature of where equipment goes and what it is used for.
simPRO Enterprise has effective functions built to manage where plant is and what it’s being used for. This allows organisations to manage their assets more effectively, gain optimal use from their equipment, and receive the desired returns.
There is no limit to the number of different types of plant and equipment you can configure in simPRO Enterprise. For each type of equipment, users can configure the schema (user defined fields) to ensure the organisation is capturing the correct information. Each field can be a text field, date field, barcode field, or drop down list with predefined options. When configuring the plant type, the user is required to define the service frequency and whether it’s based on dates (e.g., every 6 months), or based on hours of use.
Each plant item should then be registered in the system. All the unique data relating to the equipment is captured and stored in simPRO Enterprise. This includes the equipment's behaviour in relation to jobs; that is, to what types of jobs it can be scheduled, when its next service is due, and whether it belongs in a team.
Equipment and Employees
Once the plant register has been set up, simPRO Enterprise can track who is using it. Plant and equipment can be checked out to employees and are timestamped when taken. If passed on to other employees, the system will timestamp when the exchange took place and timestamp again when the item is checked back in.
Having this functionality within the business provides transparency on where the item is and which employee is using it. Alternatively, simPRO Enterprise allows a user to select a particular employee and view all equipment that has been checked out to them.
Traditionally, when using plant on jobs it’s very difficult to see exactly how much it has cost the job and affected profitability. As a result, service companies rarely take heed of this information, and it's absorbed into the business overheads. With Enterprise, you can identify the exact equipment cost that should be attributed to the job based on an overhead recovery rate specifically set up on the plant.
If the equipment is chargeable, Enterprise can track the time it was used on the job, whether there should be a service fee added for having it on site, and what the charge out rate is. All this information is then reported back into the job for costing and billing.
Scheduling plant is as simple as scheduling any other resource in simPRO Enterprise. When scheduling a job, only resources that are permitted to work in the particular cost center are visible. To schedule time to plant, just allocate on the group calendar the date and time the plant needs to be used on a certain job. If the plant item is part of a team (for example a truck or scissor lift), simply scheduling the team will also schedule the plant and attribute its costs and billing information onto the job along with that team.
Within a business, an efficient use of assets gains the best results. By being able to check how often an asset is used, by which teams, and how effectively, the business can make better decisions on whether additional or replacement assets are needed. This transparency gauges the productivity of the equipment, assists organisations to reduce wasteful expenditure, and prevents the unnecessary replacement of equipment.
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