Keep irrigation vehicles organized

September 23, 2019 -  By
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Irrigation technicians spend so much time working out of their vehicles that those spaces often function as second (or even first) offices. To help operations flow efficiently, it’s important to keep those vehicles organized.

“Organization is key, and it all comes down to the leader,” says Russ Jundt, founder, vice president and brand leader of Conserva Irrigation. “It doesn’t matter if you have two service trucks — they should be geared up the same way so if any one technician jumps in that vehicle, they know exactly where everything is.”

Landscape Management spoke with Jundt to gain some insight on how Conserva Irrigation keeps its service vehicles shipshape.

Conserva Pak (Photo: Conserva Irrigation)

Photo: Conserva Irrigation

Every vehicle within Conserva’s fleet is laid out the same way so crew members don’t waste time looking for materials. Drawers, racks and other organizational tools are standard across all vehicles. Keeping a tidy vehicle also enables crews to carry around less inventory, Jundt says.

“If you have a blank slate, a wide-open truck, it will get filled with two, three or four times the amount of stock that it needs,” Jundt says. “The human tendency when there’s lack of organization is to continue to cram parts in there.”

Jundt estimates that a disorganized vehicle may carry nearly $20,000 worth of parts, whereas an organized one may only carry about $6,000 worth of inventory.

Conserva vehicle (Photo: Conserva Irrigation)

Photo: Conserva Irrigation

Every vehicle within Conserva’s 36 operations is a fully wrapped enclosed van or pickup truck with a topper.

Every van is set up with electronic diagnostic equipment. Such equipment helps the company trace and find faults within wires. It also helps Conserva techs check and diagnose any electrical issues at the controller and in valve boxes in the field.

Conserva Pak (Photo: Conserva Irrigation)

Photo: Conserva Irrigation

“Pak” it up

To keep tools, irrigation parts and other equipment orderly, Conserva invented a six-drawer system called a “Conserva Pak.”

“Those systems are organized in such a way that every vehicle has about 99 percent of the parts that a technician would need on any given day,” Jundt says.

The drawers house materials necessary for in-ground installations, hand tools and fittings. The company then runs an inventory report based on what items are picked out of the Conserva Paks each day.

Originally, the Conserva Pak consisted of three drawers, but after feedback from technicians, the company standardized the component to six drawers. The company also adjusted the depth of the drawers.

Additional irrigation tips

One of the most difficult challenges for irrigation contractors is dealing with all of the various types and sizes of parts that need to be carried. These can include pipe, sprinkler heads and dozens of fittings of every type and size such as reducers, elbows, risers, couplers, according to James Muiter, product manager at Reading Truck Body.

Rifling through dozens of loose plastic bags or boxes is sometimes a necessity, but to improve a crew’s efficiency, consider mechanics’ drawers. Here are a few tips when implementing mechanics’ drawers:

  • Add additional dividers to keep parts visually separated and easily findable. Dividers also help show at a glance when stock is getting low.
  • Separate different diameters into different drawers, one for 0.75 inch, one for 1 inch and so on.
  • For quicker findability, label individual dividers with a label maker. For basic fittings, try having each different drawer feature the same layout when possible. Irrigation pros can label each divider by the minimum quantity of each item that should be carried on the truck.

Mechanics’ drawer sets are available in sizes that bolt right into most service trucks, Muiter adds.

Once irrigation pros have a drawer system in their truck, they’ll have visual control of how much inventory is on the truck, Muiter says. Then they can go a step further by using a reorder card system to make sure they never run out of supplies on the truck.

Each divider should have a reorder card with the name of the item and bin number, and when the item falls below the minimum quantity, the technician can take the card out and set it aside to designate that it’s time to obtain more. That way, when inventory on the truck falls in the “red zone,” crews have a signal at the end of the day to refill the truck.

Sarah Webb

About the Author:

Sarah Webb is Landscape Management's associate editor. She holds a bachelor’s degree from Wittenberg University, where she studied journalism and Spanish. Prior to her role at LM, Sarah was an intern for Cleveland Magazine and a writing tutor.

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