With the amount of data that T3 can collect about machines, parts inventories, work orders and billing, it’s easy to lose sight of the fact that all of it begins with people. We sat down with Willy Schlacks, President and Co-Founder of EquipmentShare, to discuss how data can unlock human potential.
EquipmentShare: There are people across the industry in roles that don’t traditionally worry about the productivity of people. They’re really focused on solving other problems - equipment availability, inventory and accounting to name a few. Why should they care about the human aspect of the business?
Willy Schlacks: Even if you don’t think you care about the productivity of people in general, you already do care about it indirectly.
Willy Schlacks: Take the role of a fleet manager. If a machine breaks down, they want to answer questions like, “What is the status?” and “Are other machines available?” The amount of data needed to understand that needs to be digitized by someone. So the fleet manager, who wants to know the answers to these questions, will want to dig down into the data. They will start to look at who the mechanic is that is working on it, are they waiting for a part, things like that. So someone who is typically concerned about asset productivity and utilization actually relies on this body of information that is derived from people - people with skills, productivity levels and trends behind them.
EquipmentShare: People are ultimately the source of all of this decision-making data for management. But what does the future look like from the perspective of the worker?
Willy Schlacks: For them, it’s about making it easy to get their job done. So if a machine breaks down, and they’re using T3, they can see the data and trends coming off the machine, and identify the likely cause of that failure. It can save an enormous amount of time, and the people who can leverage the technology and data become more valuable to the business.
EquipmentShare: That sounds like it could come into play with manpower shortages.
Willy Schlacks: When you think about the issue the industry will have around not having enough workers and too much work, that means that workers who are valuable will get paid more. So at the end of the day, the worker who can use data as well as digitize and track the things that they do will get paid more because they are more productive and can show it.
There are always going to be enough good people - that’s not a data-driven thing, that’s just my optimistic perspective on humanity. The question becomes, how do you unlock the potential of those individuals? If you can help them increase their output, then you suddenly solve the problem around not having enough people. And that individual worker becomes more valuable and better paid as a result.
EquipmentShare: For this all to work, people would need to rely as much on the data going in as they do the data coming out.
Willy Schlacks: When you dive into T3, especially on the service side, you’ll get a sense of all of the information that gets digitized. We’re able to capture a lot of data automatically through telematics, but you’ll also see how much is reliant upon humans to digitize. There’s a feedback loop of all of the information they get from T3 to reduce downtime, and then the data they enter as they work on the equipment works back up to management. There are a lot of positive effects.
EquipmentShare: What about workers who might think this is just another way to control them?
Willy Schlacks: We think that good employees want positive outcomes. They’re curious, they’re willing to try new things and they want to be better at their jobs. So this isn’t about control, but about those positive outcomes. This is about empowering those hard-working people who want to see progress and advancement.
EquipmentShare: So all of this progress and advancement gets seen by the right people in a meaningful way - even people focused on equipment.
Willy Schlacks: It’s impossible to answer equipment questions without having productivity data, and that’s all about people. And when you do have that data, when you measure things, then you have the ability to improve. You can see, for example, this is the average length of time to do an oil change, or these are the mechanics that are top performing, these are the ones who need additional training, things like that. All of these different aspects enable people to improve.
EquipmentShare: So really, people productivity starts with measurement.
Willy Schlacks: It all starts with measurement. Measurement creates awareness, and awareness has an immediate impact. Then you’re on the path toward increasing productivity.
EquipmentShare: And that’s where T3 comes in?
Willy Schlacks: Exactly. If you go to T3 Inventory, for example, you’ll see a column that shows whether a piece of equipment is available or unavailable. But that data isn’t reliable unless you are digitizing the human aspects behind it, like service. We can use this data to drive intelligence, make better decisions and see correlations.
No matter what you do, there’s always a human layer on top, and that’s what we’re empowering. At the end of the day, T3 is all about empowering the human mind to do far more, and far less of the mundane.