Minn-Kota Construction, Inc. Utilizes Remote Monitoring Solutions for Multi-State Ventures
Now in its 35th year, Minn-Kota Construction, Inc. built its first Casey's General Store in 1989. The company has built stores from the ground up for the convenience store and pizza chain every year since. Ten years ago, Minn-Kota began devoting 100 percent of its resources to the Casey's stores.
Minn-Kota serves as a general contractor for Casey's General Store, a chain of 1,865 convenience stores located throughout the Plains states and the Upper Midwest. Minn-Kota is responsible for all aspects of new store construction, as well as store remodels and petroleum updates.
The Dundee, Minnesota-based company has built or rebuilt several hundred Casey's stores. Minn-Kota uses a variety of attachments in its work, including augers for digging service station canopy footings, as well as forks and a hammer for breaking concrete.
"Our attachments just enable us to get the job done better, and faster," says Kris Magnussen, Jobsite Foreman. "The old machines we had didn't have the quick coupler feature. I like not having to crawl out and pull the levers up to attach buckets, because they would stick and they wouldn't release. Whereas with the quick release, you just pull up, you don't have to step out of the cab. You just push a button and you're connected and ready to go. So that's huge for me with our Caterpillar machines."
"The Cat machines are used non-stop," Owner Kevin Magnussen adds. "Every project has a Cat skid steer loader or a multi terrain loader on it. The uses range from breaking concrete, hauling and loading concrete, and fine grading prior to pouring concrete."
When he started out, Kevin says he ran a competing brand of equipment because it was cheaper. But since he acquired his first Cat machine, he says he will never buy anything else.
"Until you take that first step, you don't realize that you are going to save money with all the parts, service and other resources that are available to you from Caterpillar," he says.
With four compact construction machines scattered across the Dakotas, Minnesota and Iowa, Kevin found it hard to stay abreast of scheduled maintenance.
That is, until a representative from his Cat dealer, Ziegler Cat, introduced his company to the benefits of Product Link, a remote monitoring solution that enables efficient fleet management. Product Link provides accurate, timely information about the location, utilization and condition of equipment.
For Kevin, who elected to utilize Product Link four years ago, it means he can rest easy knowing that his machines will receive scheduled maintenance at the proper intervalsthus ensuring uptime and prolonging machine longevity.
"When you have machines scattered across three different states, it's hard to keep track of the service work on them," says Kevin. "VisionLink takes care of that for me."
VisionLink is a web-based user interface bundled with Product Link that enables customized health and utilization reports, mapping and mixed fleet capabilities. Product Link transmits the information via cell and satellite. The end result is superior fleet management that maximizes efficiency and productivity, and helps Kevin better control his owning and operating costs.
"Ziegler Cat sends me an email 100 hours prior to scheduled service, and then their technicians go out in the field and service the equipment," Kevin says. "Ziegler will notify me either via email, or my salesman will call me to arrange a convenient time to service my machines.
"They will go up to Carrington, North Dakota, on a Friday and service it, and let me know if they found anything else," he says. "Having this relationship enables me to schedule the service in a time frame when a given machine is not being used as much, so I don't lose any production time."
Kris, who is Kevin's son, says there have been several instances when a Ziegler technician arrives at a jobsite to perform an update or scheduled service. "A technician just shows up, asks if the machine is available, then he does what he needs to do, and boom, its done," he says. "To me, that's pretty slick."
Less Down Time, More Productivity
Prior to using Cat equipment, there were instances when Kevin's crews would return to home base in south central Minnesota from a distant jobsite on a Thursday because one of their machines needed service. Then they would have to wait until 8 a.m. the following Monday to pick the machine up.
"With Caterpillar and Ziegler Cat, I don't have that anymore," he says. "A technician will come right out to my project to perform the service or do the repairs. When you compare that to one or two days of lost wages for three or four guys - not to mention how it looks to the store owners if no one shows up at the jobsite on a Monday - to me, it's an all around win-win with Cat Product Link."
Product Link technology is factory installed on all Cat machines. When Kevin elected to use the service, it was activated at no cost by a Ziegler technician.
"It's impossible to monitor service when you are changing locations as often as we do," Kevin says. "With Product Link, I no longer have to worry about it. It's a no-brainer for me. Even if you own just one Cat machine, this takes the worry off your shoulders."
Another benefit for Kevin is the security of knowing where his machines are at all times. "When you have a machine sitting 400 miles away in the middle of nowhere, theft is a real possibility," he says. "With VisionLink, I know where my equipment is at all times."