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“Engineering and science meet at Cat® S•O•SSM Services. We offer the world’s largest in-service fluid analysis laboratories for both Cat and non Cat machines. We can identify problems that even experienced owner/operators couldn’t diagnose with the naked eye before there is a time-consuming expense, which helps companies reduce their owning and operating costs.”
S•O•S Team: S•O•S Services offers comprehensive fluid analysis on both Caterpillar and non Caterpillar equipment. Our primary role is to support dealers and bolster their capabilities and engagement. This business is an important priority for Caterpillar because of the value and impact it has on connecting with customers and increasing their product support opportunities. We have seven Caterpillar labs around the world where approximately one-third of our dealers send their samples for analysis and interpretation of their results. The remaining dealers offer S•O•S Services through their own labs or utilize regional dealer labs.
Mark Hexum is the Division Manager for S•O•S Services and Global DSN. He has the responsibility for the entire business of the team, ensuring that they’re effective, efficient and profitable.
Sarah Todd is our Senior Digital Business Process Specialist with responsibility for the software tools that are used to manage the fluid analysis process and to communicate the results to the customers. Not only is Sarah an expert in each system, she works with the business and digital processes in order to continuously improve the security, quality, velocity and cost of the overall business process.
Jeromy Myers is the Marketing Consultant with the group. His responsibilities are to focus on the varying needs of our group as well as our business partners to ensure current and proper messaging is being leveraged to promote our value and capabilities.
The opportunity we have with S•O•S Services as an offering of Caterpillar and our dealers. Over the past decade, we have been involved in re-educating internally and externally on the value of our services. We want to grow our fluid analysis business through our marketing efforts as the team we have far exceeds competing services. We are the world’s best fluid analysis team. We’d like to help even more companies. The goal is to increase our outreach effort and capture greater market share.
We help companies manage their operating costs. S•O•S Services analyzes fluids to determine their condition. If we see anything that seems off in the fluid analysis process, we have the opportunity to give notice to the customer along with our recommended corrective action. Even if there isn’t anything wrong, it gives the customer peace of mind that their equipment is in good working condition. Our work helps to reduce the customer’s owning and operating costs. We help lower their risk by devising a preventative maintenance plan.
From a corporate standpoint, the S•O•S Services program and Cat dealer network offer the ability to provide parts and service to customers to solve their issues seamlessly as one package.
With oil, there are three basic areas our technicians look at: condition, wear and cleanliness. For condition, we’re looking to see if the oil is still effective. It may be that the oil is not providing the appropriate protection. We can assess for that. We also look for wear and can review the indicators through analysis and make recommendations on how to fix those concerns. Cleanliness is an issue as it can show if environmental elements have entered the compartment, which can affect how well the equipment is running.
With regard to coolants, does anything seem suspect? Are they providing protection? Do they indicate corrosion? Are they providing the properties to protect the engine? For fuels, are they providing the right properties? Do they meet specific government regulations?
Common problems are water and fuel contamination and general wear. Many times, wear is a secondary affect due to contamination.
Part of it can be related to identifying if there is a problem area and, if so, being able to identify what the cause is due to the elements in the sample. A customer can schedule and perform the work for the repair in that specific area before it becomes a catastrophic failure. There’s also a lot of testing that goes into validating if product drain intervals can be extended. If you are able to extend oil drain intervals, it can cut your maintenance costs in half.
A lot of this helps with planning and scheduling. If you have an unexpected failure, you require immediate service, which means downtime. Whereas if you plan your maintenance, then you can schedule the dealer to come out and perform it. However, if you have a failure, the lead time to getting back to work increases due to part orders, and so on.
You can have instances where something is going wrong and before a significant failure occurs, you could replace one part instead of the entire engine, which decreases the collateral damage. Obviously, being proactive costs significantly less.
And related to the marine industry, shipment vessels are out of port for long periods of time. They could be down for weeks before they can get to service, which could considerably affect a company’s speed and efficiency in that time period.
An expression our team often uses is, “We see the unseen.” An example would be that an operator performing an inspection on the outside may see a leak, but what they’re not going to see is the contamination in the compartment fluids which could be causing internal wear.
Our staff is filled with scientists, and many have their master’s degree or a Ph.D. This is a highly sophisticated team. We also can rely on our dealers. They know what to do should there be an issue. Many competitors provide a report about what’s wrong, but it doesn’t go as far as to say what they should do in order to correct it. And that’s really what makes us stand out. We identify the problem and give you a course of action to fix it.
The partnership between our engineering department, scientists within our own team, and our dealers makes S•O•S Services very valuable to companies. We can identify potential issues and make the repair that much faster to keep costs down.
We support the dealers, so they have the primary customer contact. But when you look at the ongoing demand for our services, it’s clear we’re providing an important offering.
This is the largest in-service program in the world. The ability to have testing done all over the planet through our fluids analysis program is huge. Each year, over 7 million samples are analyzed through the global S•O•S Services program.
The backing of the engineers with the scientists is a significant advantage. Plus, our turnaround times are very fast. We can get the results back to the customer quickly so they can make an educated repair option to determine their next steps and get it done before it poses a big failure. The collaboration with the entire dealer network is what makes us so strong.
If you choose a competing service, they may tell you something’s not right, but our engineering team can help you pinpoint exactly what is going wrong. The competitor might tell you what metals they’ve found, but that another vendor will need to look at it.
The biggest thing is, does the customer want to know what’s wrong with their equipment? Do they want to reduce the risk of a failure by knowing the exact problem and decrease their downtime, costs and their failure to meet their customer commitments?
Can the customer afford to be down for a week? That’s what they’re risking.
We often use the example of getting a routine physical. A person needs to know the condition they’re in, and it’s the same for machines. We need to do a much better job at following up and reviewing the analysis, and there’s a lot of value in that.
Checking the fluids in the product is similar to blood work. But instead of examining the condition of a person’s body, we’re looking at the condition of a machine. We’re able to assess aging, wear and so on. There are certain metrics that can vary so we frame our recommendations based on what we’re seeing and operator behaviors.
If there’s a fluid in it, we can test it. Approximately 25% of our work right now is on non-Caterpillar products. We have a great deal of information and can leverage that through historical analysis, including overspeed conditions and product data. It enables us to make a more thorough recommendation to the customer.
In working with Cat dealers to identify cost-effective recommendations, the true advantage is the Caterpillar extended enterprise. We have been in business nearly 50 years and have more than 90 dealer labs around the world. Seven of our regional labs support the dealer network by providing their fluids analysis needs or by stepping in when additional help is needed. A customer can send us a fluid sample anywhere in the world, and we'll be able to analyze it quickly for them.