Converting Existing Facilities to Fluid Management

Identifying misconceptions and planning the fluid management conversion

Fluid automation is critical to keeping costs low in vehicle service applications, as it can help service shops track the dispensing of oils, coolant, antifreeze and other fluids. Effective fluid management fleet vehicle service shops can reduce costs and improve operational efficiency, while generating helpful data about dispense history. 

Overcoming the misconceptions surrounding fluid automation 

Fluid automation is not cutting-edge; in fact, it’s been around for 20 plus years. Take Graco for example, the first Horizon fluid management system was released in the 1990’s and as technology advanced so did the offering to the most current Matrix System.  As oils are getting more expensive and specialty oils are being introduced, parts, service and facility managers are taking notice and putting more focus on profitability. 

When evaluating the conversion from standard fluid dispense and tracking practices to a fluid management system, some may feel the system is too expensive and therefore cannot be justified. There is also the misconception of time and effort involved in fluid management conversion, and we often hear the phrase “if it isn’t broken, why fix it?”.  Many facilities may feel this way. However, ask yourself these questions.  Are you really able to efficiently and effectively monitor and track your fluids and is your facility working at its highest profitability level? 

If cost or time is the main concern, a phased approach can help alleviate the initial sticker shock. 

Key considerations for converting your existing facility to fluid automation

1. Not all fluids need to be converted at once

Often times we have customers that migrate only one or two oils over to a fluid management system. Typically, customers will choose fluids that are the most expensive and are causing the biggest financial burden due to shrinkage.  

Another idea is to start with your mobile roll-around dispense carts or specialty fluids.  The wireless capabilities of Matrix allow for easy monitoring and tracking of mobile carts and drums.  

2. Not all Matrix components need to be purchased at once

With the Graco Matrix system, the only components necessary for functioning are the Matrix software and wireless transceiver coupled with either a Matrix Meter and/or Tank Level Monitor. If your key goal is to monitor exactly what and how much fluid your technicians are dispensing, then it is recommended to start with the Matrix Meter.  However, if your goal is simply to monitor the levels of your bulk fluids, then you’d start with the Tank Level Monitor. Introducing additional components will come easy as you will begin to see the benefits of a fluid management system within the first few months. As mentioned, very few components are initially needed to get a facility converted to fluid automation. 

3. Migrate one bay at a time

Another phased approach is to convert one bay at a time to fluid management.  This is a great method to understand the true ROI that you’d receive from a single bay being transitioned to fluid management. You can get a comparative analysis on technician productivity and fluid reconciliation for that bay compared to bays not using fluid automation.  

4. Fluid automation is easy to install and use

While some may believe that fluid management systems are technically difficult to install or operate, the wireless Graco Matrix system is in fact easier (and cheaper) to install than a wired system. Furthermore, it provides you much more control than your standard written or verbal dispense and tracking practices and greatly simplifies your processes.

5. Expanding fluid automation to tank level monitoring will save you money

While installing tank level monitors in your fluid management system isn’t necessary, it does provide huge benefits.  Imagine no longer having to call your bulk fluid supplier to schedule a refill of your fluids or having to call your fluid recycling vendor to evacuate your used oil before an overfill occurs.  With a Matrix Fluid Management system your uncertain manual processes can be replaced with a reliable, automated system that monitors tank levels and schedules deliveries and pick-ups for you.   

6. Work with a good lubrication partner

Trust.  It’s that simple.  You need to trust who you choose to install and use for your fluid management system installation.  Look for suppliers who have years of experience in fluid automation and lubrication and who have dedicated technicians available to provide service, when you need it.  Graco has a wide network of qualified lubrication and Matrix distributors.  Visit our distributor locator to find a qualified installer near you. 

Accurate Tracking and Reporting Put You in Control

Fluid management helps you to maximise your budget by helping you track your inventory and organise your billing. With a closer eye on profitability and increased costs, fluid automation justifies each dispense making oil shrinkage a thing of the past. Warranty decisions and predictions of fleet vehicle life with accurate dispense history records are established. Customised reporting can help you track inventory, technician and fluid type back to a specific work order to ensure accuracy. Technicians save time with access to work order information from the service bay, which frees staff up for other service needs. Fluid management is also a safeguard for parts and service managers, by helping maintain bulk fluid inventory through automatic email alerts when tanks are low. With this kind of comprehensive data, fleet managers can make smart business decisions about their inventory and processes. In combination, this comprehensive data and the system’s improved efficiency and precision are proof that fluid automation is critical to managing costs and ensuring success in vehicle service applications.

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