Telematics and mobile lube systems — a winning combination for field service provider M.E.S.O., Inc.
FIELD SERVICE PROVIDERS BUILD A BUSINESS AROUND THE INDUSTRY’S LATEST TECHNOLOGY.
As telematics integration works its way across the equipment manufacturing sector, a common issue many fleet managers face is learning how to incorporate different telematic platforms and developing ways to use all the data to care for their assets. Employing telematics seems like an overwhelming task for many companies with a wide range of equipment and vehicles in their fleet. Most are trying to navigate a shortage of skilled labor for service technicians while juggling busy workloads. There simply just isn’t enough time in a week to process the data and stay on top of all the preventive maintenance and field service schedules of the equipment in their fleet.
Chris Britt and Ed Heinz, founders of Mobile Equipment Service Options (M.E.S.O.) recognized that while telematics could help companies maximize the life of their equipment, most fleet managers didn’t have the time to do it all themselves. So, in 2014, they started M.E.S.O., a mobile service company that monitors the health of its customers’ equipment fleets and proactively provides field service when needed.
“From customer-owned truck, trailer, and equipment fleets; utility, oil and gas, industrial, and equipment rental companies; and large contractors to equipment manufacturers, establishing a dedicated service team and creating a proactive approach to service can be a daunting and expensive undertaking,” said Britt, president/CEO of M.E.S.O.. “For most companies with a large fleet of equipment, it’s more efficient to hire out preventive maintenance and on-the-job service/repair work. But unfortunately, most fleet managers still require some manual internal tracking for the company, and a phone call. Ed and I knew there had to be a better way. What if fleet managers didn’t have to keep track of machine hours/mileage? What if they didn’t have to schedule service? What if we could use our customers’ machine telematics to simplify the whole process for them?”
Of course, to capitalize on all equipment data and make their business concept a reality, M.E.S.O.’s founders also understood they needed field-efficient service vehicles, which included a mobile lube system that would allow their team to perform routine fluid exchanges as quickly and cleanly as possible.
FINDING SUCCESS FOR FLEET SERVICE
Britt and Heinz tested their business concept when they opened their first location in East Liverpool, Ohio, and deployed the first service truck. This new technology-driven service model quickly gained market acceptance, and M.E.S.O. has expanded its operating territory beyond Ohio into Georgia, Indiana, Kentucky, Pennsylvania, Tennessee, Texas and West Virginia.
Heinz explained it hasn’t been easy to grow the business to where it is today. “We’ve had to spend a lot of time perfecting the process of collecting equipment telematics data. We also had to develop software processes for our service technicians to communicate quickly and efficiently with fleet managers, so they still have 100% ownership of all the work we’re doing on their behalf. And finally, we had to work on our own fleet of equipment to ensure our highly skilled field technicians had everything they needed to perform their job to the highest of standards in the shortest amount of time possible,” he explained.
FINE-TUNING THE FIELD SERVICE VEHICLE
While using Internet of Things (IoT)-based technology is the future of their business, M.E.S.O. understands that when their service technician arrives at a site, the clock is ticking. “While we try to work around the schedules of our customers, the first question we usually get asked onsite is, ‘How long will a piece of equipment or truck be down?'” said Britt. “We understand any downtime is wasted time and impacts profitability. Our goal is and always will be to keep service times to a minimum. To make that happen, we have explored all the different ways to perform oil changes and top off fluid levels, since those are the most common preventive maintenance needs.”
After trying out other mobile lube systems at CONEXPO/AGG in 2017, Britt and Heinz walked into the Sage Oil Vac booth. “We were just on the tail end of winter, and several of our service technicians were concerned about how some of their piston pump lube systems were performing in the cold weather,” said Britt. “They were running slow, and in some cases, freezing up in the extreme cold. Compounding the issue with our current mobile lube systems was access on some jobsites. The systems’ hoses weren’t long enough, and, in most cases, we couldn’t pull our trucks up closer to the machine.
“What we saw in the Sage Oil Vac booth was different, though,” Britt continued. “They designed mobile lube systems that use air to drain and refill fluids. This type of design eliminates the possibility of a pump freezing up and can efficiently pump fluids over longer distances since hose capacities are not limited by the size of the pump involved.”
CUSTOM LUBE SYSTEM
Upon returning from the show, M.E.S.O. ordered a 5120V Heritage Lube Skid with a 120-gallon waste tank, four, 80-gallon fresh oil tanks and a 50’ (15-m) hose reel. After using for a few years, Britt and Heinz added to their fleet with a custom lube skid build with a 60-gallon (227-L) waste oil tank, two, 30-gallon (114-L) fresh oil and grease tanks and a 50-foot (15-m) hose reel. Since then, M.E.S.O. has added eight additional Sage Oil Vac mobile lube skids with similar configurations, and plans to add at least one additional system every month through 2022. These custom lube systems have a low-profile design and a separate reel cabinet.
“We decided to go with a skid-mounted system because we tend to swap out trucks more than we need to replace lube systems,” said Britt. “A low-profile system was also an important aspect for us since we like to be able to have an enclosure over the top of the truck bed. The team at Sage Oil Vac worked with us through the process and came up with a customized system to match our specific needs.”
One unique request M.E.S.O. had was designing a lube system where the hose reels could be mounted separately from the skid with the waste oil tank and fresh oil tank. “The M.E.S.O. team wanted to give their service technicians the ability to access the hose from the side of the truck bed, instead of from the back,” said Chance Castillo, corporate sales manager for Sage Oil Vac. “After meeting with their team, we developed a new lube system configuration that would accommodate this request. In addition to allowing the reels to be mounted separately, this design keeps the skid profile as short and low as possible so they can maximize the usage of all available truck bed space.”
BETTER TECHNICIAN AND CUSTOMER EXPERIENCE
M.E.S.O.’s original goal of engaging the Sage Oil Vac team to create a customized mobile lube system was to allow their service technicians to operate in colder temps and where access is challenging. However, after putting their fleet of mobile lube systems out in the field, they realized several other benefits of the Sage Oil Vac lube system design. “It is extremely competitive right now to hire and retain skilled service technicians,” said Britt. “I believe equipping our service trucks with best-in-class equipment like Sage Oil Vac lube systems has helped us retain our service technicians and hire more qualified individuals. With the Sage Oil Vac system, oil changes are safer and less labor intensive, with less mess than traditional methods. This adds up to our service technicians being able to do more work efficiently and safely each day. Furthermore, the whole process is much cleaner than traditional methods, so our guys go home with cleaner shirts, pants and hands. Who doesn’t want a job like that?”
BUILDING FOR THE FUTURE OF TELEMATICS
Developing a better process to make managing telematics data is helping M.E.S.O. to grow their business while helping their customers grow their businesses, too. Pairing that thinking with the industry’s most advanced mobile lube systems is allowing M.E.S.O. continues to grow its team and operating territory.