The AED San Antonio 600 Makes History - Inside AED
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The AED San Antonio 600 Makes History

Written By Mary Seaman

Article Date: 03-01-2005
Copyright (C) 2005 Associated Equipment Distributors. All Rights Reserved.

First live demonstration at CONDEX is a hit.

It was a race to the finish at the HKX booth in CONDEX this year. Three technical school students worked to beat the clock while installing hydraulic kits on three different brands of excavators during AED’s Annual Meeting & CONDEX, held January 27-29 in San Antonio. The AED San Antonio 600, as it was called, made history this year as the first ever live demonstration in CONDEX.

HKX, a manufacturer of hydraulic kits, came up with the idea of providing live demonstrations at CONDEX, with the intention of showing that these kits can be installed in one hour, saving dealers more than $1,000 for every kit they install. The plan involved working with The AED Foundation and accredited technical school students.

“We worked closely with HKX and encouraged them to bring their idea of a live demonstration to CONDEX,” says Dave Gordon, AED’s Director of CONDEX. “I think this demonstration added excitement to our show and will give other manufacturers an idea of how they can use the annual meeting to introduce new products or do live demonstrations for their dealers.”

It Started With The Product

According to HKX, recent estimates indicate more than 50 percent of all excavators will use one or more additional attachments during their service lives. Attachments enable the contractor to not only do things faster and more efficiently, but to do things that were not previously possible.

However, hydraulic fluid power must be provided at the correct flow and pressure to ensure maximum productivity, safety and longevity of the equipment. Without a specifically designed kit, the dealership is left to provide all, or a portion, of the “connectivity solution.”

Dealers who create their own kits typically tie up the services of some of their top mechanics for 30 hours or more for each installation.

Custom “fixes” often lead to a lack of standardization, increased costs, difficulty supporting the product, increased liability and other problems that are not always immediately evident.

Through modular, bolt-on design, methodical packaging, color-coded “lego-logic” instructions and complete kits, HKX has simplified installation and taken the guesswork out of kit connectivity. The kit is designed to provide optimum fluid power to the attachment and maximize performance.

Lee Keddie, general manager for HKX, says they wanted to go into the show with a message for dealers that 30-hour installations are not acceptable.

Start Your Engines

During CONDEX, HKX held one race each day. To make the competition even more challenging, three different brands of excavators in three different sizes and three different kits were used.

Jake King, Chris Melone and Andrew Lehenbauer, students from Oklahoma State University – Okmulgee (Heavy) participated in the contest. Prior to CONDEX, none of the students had installed a kit of any kind. For participating, each student received a $500 scholarship from HKX to go toward tuition for the 2005 year.

The results were even better than had been predicted. The tech school students were able to install the kits in significantly less than one hour. In fact, the longest installation took just 47 minutes, and the fastest was done in a speedy 18 minutes and 2 seconds.

To add to the fun, before each demonstration, the audience was asked to estimate how long the installation would take. The closest estimate to the actual time won a NASCAR Dale Earnhardt Jr. Two Ball White Hot Putter. The winners were: John Regan, G&H Services; Rick Wishum, Rish Equipment; Bill McQuerry, Wilson Equipment; Darlene Martinez, Scott Machinery Co.; Tom Witt, Breaker Technology Inc.; and Helga Nordstrom, Finning CAT.

“The demonstration was shocking enough to change the benchmark,” says Keddie.

He says 18 minutes seems like a rather lofty goal for dealers to set at their shops, but, he says, the idea was to get dealers to think about eight- to 12-hour installs instead of 30.

“This demonstration showed how dealers who are having a hard time finding technicians can use less experienced people to install these kits, and use their more experienced technicians on the more difficult jobs,” says Keddie.

Not only does the HKX kit significantly reduce installation time, it also reduces the experience level required of the technician. With many dealerships turning away business due to a lack of qualified technicians, this will continue to be a critical issue into the foreseeable future.

By teaming up with The AED Foundation and OSU, the demonstration was able to highlight the value of technical schools.

“The synergy of merging the two themes together was immediate,” says Keddie. “Not only do we believe strongly that the industry requires easy kit installation in a single day, but we also believe the results need to be consistently successful across a broad range of technician experience and skill levels.”

Directly across from the demonstration was another first for CONDEX – “Tech Row,” which was comprised of technical schools that have been accredited by The AED Foundation.

“Using students from accredited technical programs who have the knowledge but limited experience was perfect,” says Keddie. “Not only does it illustrate how much our industry needs to support such quality institutions and programs, in many ways, it confirmed that we can’t afford not to.”

According to Keddie, during the demonstration several dealers mentioned how impressive the technical school students were, and also that they planned to strengthen their involvement with technical schools.

“We had several dealers say that after seeing our demonstration they plan to start scholarships with their local technical schools,” says Keddie. “Several people commented that they should have been taking a more serious look at technical school students to fill their employment needs.

“This demonstration caused quite a stir on many levels.”

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