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Five Things A Service Technician Can Do With A Laptop

LaptopLaptop computers, long the must-have accessory for many business owners and on-the-road salespeople, are making an inroad into other departments of the dealership. For good reason. Not only do laptops provide access to online company resources and a quick way to communicate with customers via e-mail, service departments are finding that online dispatch and online billing are valuable resources for both on-the-road and in-house technicians.

The laptop can perform a multitude of tasks for a service technician, including everything from generating detailed equipment reports to storing and reviewing electronic parts assemblies and service manuals. Most manufacturers are providing FAQ systems for information-sharing via the Internet, readily accessible at a job-site.

A service technician can gain the competitive advantage by using equipment diagnostic software. If the heavy and light industrial equipment industries follow the well-advanced automotive industry, the future of the laptop is here to stay.

Many manufacturers provide handheld devices or the error codes via the consoled dash display. Each of these methods, however, allows only a single value to be displayed at any one time. Diagnostic software installed on a technician’s laptop captures five core fundamentals in a bird’s-eye view, thus reducing the amount of time the technician spends viewing individual settings, or one password at a time, or one error code at a time.

These five core fundamentals are the following:

1. Lift Truck Configurations
These provide the operational limits of performance whereby most manufacturers recommend settings. These can be changed to suit equipment conditions, maintaining optimal performance.

2. Password Management
If this is a supported feature, the diagnostics software allows technicians to view all users in a single list, enabling them to create, delete or modify passwords.

3. Error/Event Logging
This feature is the heart of the controllers providing intelligence for the equipment. Error logging occurs when an equipment configuration is outside the limits specified by the controller. Event logging is a technician-defined limit. For example, when the equipment hour meter reaches 1,000 hours, a code will appear in the error/event log.

4. Real Time Diagnostics
In operational mode, this feature provides the actual values as the equipment is in operation. The technician has the ability to understand and compare values such as accelerator position relative to throttle position or brake pedal pressure when the operator applies the brakes.

5. Reporting
Most diagnostic software packages allow this feature for data storage. The reports are designed around the first four components of the diagnostic software. Reporting also allows a technician to review capabilities when not connected to the equipment.

If implemented properly, the laptop can combat the challenges when a technician is faced with limited information. The laptop will record an equipment history, and that’s what helps to drive repeat business.

Convincing Your Boss To Buy One
When requesting a laptop, be prepared to answer the question every manager will have: When will the laptop show a Return on Investment (ROI)? More simply, when will that thing start to generate revenue?

Assume the laptop, software, cables and miscellaneous hardware totaled $3,600. If the entire package is depreciated for three years, or 36 months, then the monthly cost is $100. Each day the technician uses the laptop, an extra two-hour job is performed. For argument’s sake, say a given month is 20 billable days. An extra two hours a day would increase billing by 40 hours. Subtract that $100 depreciation per month from the hourly rate times 40 hours.

Here’s an example: The bill rate is $50 per hour, times the increased billable hours of 40, equals $2,000, minus $100 for equipment depreciation. The final increased billing for that month is $1,900. Over the laptop’s three-year depreciation period, the increased revenue is $68,400.

As the above example proves, each month of non-use also will cost the organization money. The more an organization uses the laptop, the more income the laptop will generate for the organization. And that is how you convince your manager to buy you a laptop!

Material Handling Equipment Distributors Association

Meet the Author
Dave Terhune, 39, is project leader for tech laptops at Modern Group Ltd. He recognizes that service technicians have a mindset that is very logical and technical and he enjoys teaching them to use new technology to help their customers.

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