5 questions to identify the perfect hardware for the job
by Travis Roberts
October 9, 2019

The technology in your construction fleet is changing every day. Not many years ago, when you had truck and equipment failures, you could determine a lot by using your eyes and ears.  Although you still need to use those, gone are the days of mechanical-only systems.

Today, you need something that not only helps diagnose these complex systems, but also guides you through the process. For this, you need the correct hardware, and determining the best hardware will require a few questions.  

1.  What type of laptop can withstand the jobsite?

The answer won’t be a typical, run-of-the-mill laptop your teenager uses for homework; however, if you have a rough-and-tumble teen, they might benefit from a sturdier make. Instead, you’ll need something that can handle extreme conditions, such as temperature changes from freezing cold to sweltering heat and the high humidity that comes along with it.

You’ll want something with drop and shock protection and, yes, preferably a solid-state hard drive, too. Consider military-grade products for your applications, because no matter how gentle you are with it, at the end of the day, it will be on-site, and it’s going to need to tolerate some abuse. 

2. What type of equipment your crew will be diagnosing?

Chances are, you’re diagnosing everything from heavy equipment to the dump trucks hauling dirt in or out.  So, what best fits your needs? You need software to cover everything. For heavy trucks, this isn’t too difficult, as there are several options out there. For your off-highway equipment, the options are much slimmer.

When you use multiple manufacturers of equipment on a jobsite, you need a tool that’s going to cover a little bit of everything. If you decide to go with original equipment manufacturer (OEM) software on your laptop for off-highway equipment, you’re going to need several adapters, and chances are, you won’t be obtain the software for all of those legally. This is where a universal tool comes in. 

There are a few universal tools on the market that can handle everything from automotive, heavy truck, off-highway and even marine applications.

These universal software options have fast began catching up to OEMs’, doing almost everything shy of programming an engine control module. The options range from code readers to tools allowing you to run advanced commands, such as clearing derates and coding injectors.

3. What can your company afford?

At the end of the day you’ll want to keep that downtime to a minimum. Sometimes a little more money upfront may pay for itself when you see that return on your investment down the road.

Remember: If your trucks and equipment are not moving, you are losing money. So, weigh the pros and cons of each option intently.

4. What else do I need to diagnose failures?

In addition to the right software, you need adequate information to point you in the right direction. Diagnostic software only narrows down the window of what has gone wrong. You’ll need instructions on where to go from there so that you find your problem and repair it as quickly as possible. You may find a little information on the internet to help with your heavy trucks, but finding information on heavy equipment isn’t easy.

The next thing you need is the right support for the times you just cannot figure out the problem. Face it, one person can’t know every truck and machine system. You need a team of people with expertise in multiple manufacturers to help you decipher which is the right direction to go from time to time.

Always find a tool that comes with the right technical support, whether that be in the internal technology (IT) field or speaking to other technicians that may have dealt with this same struggle before. Sometimes, having that extra set of eyes can save you hours of frustration.

5. Where will you get the training you need to stay on top of new technology and perfect your technicians’ skills?

There are options out there. You’ll have to decide which programs are sales driven and which ones really want to improve your skills. At the end of the day, you need your technicians to be as efficient as possible.

 

When making considerations for your construction fleet’s diagnostic laptops there are several factors you need to consider—the hardware, software, service information and support you need to keep your trucks and equipment moving. As technology moves forward, so will these complex systems.

Be prepared to change along with them by investing in the right equipment to keep your company at the forefront of technology.