SMS Equipment: When the Going Gets Tough…

SMS Equipment: When the Going Gets Tough...
The SMS Equipment fleet has a total of 649 vehicles across Canada, with an additional 68 being prepped and outfitted for future deployment. (Photo: SMS Equipment)

This impressive fleet operates in some of the most demanding conditions in Canada.

With a total of nearly 700 vehicles across Canada, SMS Equipment provides valuable services to their many customers, wherever the need arises. The company, launched in 2008, is the result of the merger of three Canadian heavy equipment dealers and is associated with several well-known international brands, including Komatsu, for which it is one of the largest dealers in the world.

Through its network of 35 locations serving customers in Canada, Alaska and Mongolia, SMS Equipment is a major service and equipment specialist for the mining, public utility and construction industries.

Heavy-duty workhorses

Purchasing and Transportation Director Kitty Murphy recently celebrated her 15-year tenure with the company, having previously worked in the mining industry.

As the vehicles in the SMS Equipment fleet are exposed to a wide range of challenging conditions, Ford F-Series, or more specifically, F-550 Chassis Cabs, are the workhorses of choice. “Our fleet is also comprised of heavy-duty trucks including the International 4400 and Freightliner M2 106,” Murphy adds. “Some models are outfitted for on-site mechanical repair and oil-change services, while our sales and parts staff mostly use standard pickups.”

The fleet travels an average of 2.5 million kilometres every quarter. “However, some trucks, such as those servicing the oil-sands industry, hardly move at all,” Murphy explains. “They may very well remain on a single site for their entire lifecycle.”

Anticipated growth

SMS Equipment leases the majority of its vehicles, taking advantage of short-term leases whenever they need additional units for a project. When the time comes to replace vehicles, they call on consultants to help evaluate a variety of scenarios. “Before, we would hang on to vehicles until repairs were no longer a financially viable option,” explains Murphy. “Nowadays, since every dollar counts, we recondition our aluminum utility boxes to reduce operating costs.”

For 2019, Murphy plans to expand the fleet. The company has added two new locations, and the number of vehicles in British Columbia is likely to grow, due to demand from the liquefied natural gas and coal industries.

Safety and performance

“Safety remains our top priority,” Murphy explains. “We pay close attention to key issues like itinerary management and lone workers. Our entire fleet is equipped with GPS so we can locate our team members at all times. We closely follow Transport Canada safety guidelines in the areas of driving hours and vehicle maintenance.”

Telematics allows the company to closely monitor driving habits, keeping an eye on aggressive acceleration, sudden braking and engine idling times. Not only does this information help ensure the vehicles are driven in a safe manner, but it also provides useful information to help optimize fuel management.

Although SMS Equipment has a service centre in Fort McMurray dedicated to caring for vehicles that operate in the oil sands industry, they depend on dealers and outside maintenance service providers to care for their fleet. This allows SMS to free up technicians to care for the needs of SMS customers, and is just another example of how this organization puts the customer first.

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