We tend to overlook the need for regular and effective equipment maintenance. However, the fact remains that it can make or mar the bottom line of any project, business, or organization. Yes, maintenance takes time and money. But considering how huge investment construction equipment is, we should not wait until something is wrong before we initiate the maintenance phase. In fact, construction equipment is best enjoyed when kept in optimal shape at all times.
Why should you maintain your equipment?
There are several benefits of regular preventative equipment maintenance. It does not only extend the equipment life but also keep repair costs at the barest minimum. Without preventative maintenance, even more money, time, and efforts go into resulting major repairs.
Below are some of the top reasons you should embrace preventative maintenance for your equipment:
Ensure the efficient running of equipment
When you get a piece of equipment newly, efficiency is always very high. This means that it works flawlessly, which is great for business. However, with time, you will need to put in efforts to maintain this optimal efficiency. This effort is called maintenance.
And why is it important? Equipment working at very high efficiency will improve your bottom line by getting things done faster. So, a decline in efficiency will ultimately adversely affect your bottom line.
Prevent the aggravation of small problems
It is common to ignore smaller or probable problems in equipment because they do not stop us from getting results. However, as harmless as this may appear, it leads to even more significant problems in the future.
To avoid this, we must immediately attend to even the slightest worrisome signs in a piece of equipment. This will ensure that such simple problems do not aggravate into serious issues.
To fix bigger problems costs more
As tempting as workarounds could be, they are disasters waiting to happen. When you postpone the inspection and repairs of problematic equipment, the problems continue to aggravate. It gets to a point where the functionality is halted, and you are forced to spend even more to fix these now complex problems.
Such complex repairs could involve the replacement of more and/or larger expensive parts. Apart from this, the downtime is longer, and this affects operations in different ways. Also, employees scheduled to work with the affected equipment would be left stranded, while you will be forced to pay them for their time.
Once it gets to this stage, you will be forced to fix the equipment as soon as possible. Your desperation means you will spend more on expedited shipping of parts and service fees for technicians. This is not cost-effective. Instead, small problems should be tackled as soon as they come up.
To get the best out of your warranty coverage
You will want to do more as per routine equipment maintenance when you buy a new or lightly used piece of equipment. This is because, most times, your coverage depends on consistent and detailed service records of the equipment.
So, it is only logical to maintain routine maintenance and keep the correct details of the same. This usually comes handy during the need for repairs, serving as evidence that your equipment is regularly maintained. Equipment manufacturers are always particular about this record because it helps them to ascertain that you followed the routine maintenance directives. Regular routine maintenance will reduce the chances of a costly repair, which is always their responsibility.
To keep your resale value high
The changing construction equipment market means there will always be newer and better equipment to upgrade to with time. In such cases, you can trade your old equipment for a newer or sell it at the best price possible. Either way, a comprehensive record of maintenance of heavy equipment will increase the chances of getting the best buck on a sale.
Such records conveniently answer the questions of reliability, proper maintenance, and record of damages that could have an effect on performance. These are what potential buyers look out for when buying a piece of used equipment. With all these boxes ticked, you can quote a very good selling price and be confident of getting a buyer.
To prevent injuries and fatalities
According to the United States Bureau of Labor, the construction industry is one of the biggest sources of job injuries in the country. Contact with objects and equipment is responsible for over 16% of the fatal construction accidents recorded annually. Regularly servicing your equipment will ensure that it works perfectly. Thus, there are lower chances of workplace injuries or deaths caused by equipment malfunctioning.
Yes, safety training can help your employees stay safe, but they do not prevent equipment failure. Cases of unplanned equipment malfunctions are bound to happen, and the best you can do is to minimize them by ensuring regular maintenance. Maintenance is a cost-effective option here, considering that workplace deaths and injuries are more tragic and expensive. Similarly, the bottom line and the company’s morale drop.
Lastly, regular equipment maintenance shows that you value the safety of your team at all times.
How can you extend your equipment life?
Now that we have agreed on the need for regular equipment maintenance let us move forward by discussing the right way to maximize the life of the equipment. Despite the differences in models and design, there are a couple of universal tips you can apply to extend the life of your construction equipment. Let us take a look at some of them;
Regular monitoring of equipment technology
The evolution of equipment technology means it is now easier than ever to detect inconsistencies or unusual situations. Even the smallest problems can be picked up by various sensors in the equipment. However, you can only get the best out of this when there is proper monitoring. You can ensure adequate monitoring by assigning staff to keep track of the changes and adequately capture data on equipment and performance
Alongside the in-built technology, you can add a couple of external tools. These include vibration monitoring, audio gauges, thermal imaging, and other tests and techniques that turn in useful and real-time information used in determining the condition of the equipment.
Train your technicians and operators
Human touch remains indispensable to the proper functioning of equipment. Even the most efficient technologies must be monitored and tested to get results. This is why it is important to assign a trained operator to these responsibilities. Such trained personnel can assess the problem and make fixes or notify people that can.
A trained technician or operator will report issues as soon as they occur, thus preventing them from developing into more significant problems. They also help to avoid repairs by ensuring zero misuses or overuse. Training can be in-person or exposure to the best practices, backed by an operation manual that explains how to use the equipment correctly.
If the equipment operator is untrained, chances are they will unknowingly cause expensive repairs. So, it is best to bring on well-trained technicians with clear duties and responsibilities at all times.
It does not end with training technicians and operators. You should adopt a staff structure that puts someone directly in charge of equipment maintenance. While there is no universal guide to doing this, work out something that suits your company’s size and shape. With this responsibility assigned, it is easier to track the positive effects of proactive maintenance and the dangers of not having one.
Also, the assigned staff must be properly educated and empowered, considering how crucial the role is to preventative maintenance. If it is their only job, they will most likely put their all into it.
Create and follow a maintenance schedule
Even with the difference in specifics, it is vital to create a maintenance schedule and adhere strictly to the same. This will address the regular assessment of the equipment’s condition while making necessary minor fixes like the replacement of simple parts like bolts, seals, and belts.
If you are unsure of where to start, check out the Maintenance Recommendations by the Original Equipment Manufacturer (OER). This will guide you on how and when to schedule your maintenance schedule. As insignificant as this may appear, overlooking it will lead to even costlier repairs in the long run.
For example, if the bolts, seals, and belts are not replaced as and when due, it will eventually affect the larger system, thus leading to more expenses on bigger parts.
Organize and execute regular inspections
While you may want to confuse maintenance schedules with inspections, it is essential to state that they are different. Inspections are carried out by trained operators. It involves looking out for processes and reactions that indicate that the equipment is working perfectly. This may include signs of wear and tear, a drop in the levels of lubricants, and others.
Considering the nature of operations of construction equipment, i.e., the constant vibration, fiction, and high temperatures, it is only reasonable to experience wear and tear over time. This, with time, leads to systematic deterioration. The best way to avoid this is to integrate an operator’s visual inspection into the equipment use requirements.
From loose bolts to cracked seat belts and warped belts, these simple issues can be identified via a visual inspection and corrected before they deteriorate into more serious issues. Feel free to check your OEM maintenance plan for special directives on extensive inspections (if any).
Depending on the specifics of your equipment and the manufacturer’s recommendation, there are different ways to go about the lubrication of your equipment. There are certain places where you cannot lubricate in some equipment, whereas you can lubricate these same parts in others. Likewise, there are some checks and balances you can do on your own in the course of scheduled maintenance, while you will require the expertise of an expert technician for others.
Whichever way, start by understanding your equipment and its lubrication requirements. Note that failure to get things properly lubricated increases friction, and ultimately the chances of wear and tear. You do not want to reduce your equipment life.
In addition to reducing friction and wear and tear, lubrication goes a long way in discovering problem areas. Once you know the parts of your equipment that can be accessed and lubricated, it becomes easier to identify issues.
Watch out for leaky oil seals, accumulation of grease or oils on pistons, and other signs. Lubricants can also help to identify equipment parts that are worn down. You can detect the presence of contaminants by analyzing the particles used in the oil.
When it comes to oil tests, you can either choose to DIY if you are an oil expert or bring in a knowledgeable technician to handle it. Either way, it can come under your scheduled maintenance or as a one-off check, especially in situations where you notice anomalies.
Using non-OEM Parts
Genuine OEM parts can be very expensive. As tempting as buying original parts from other companies such as Cat parts UK can be, it comes with some risks.
- The first risk is the uncertainty in the material composition – you are not sure if the non-OEM replacement part is made from the same material as the original.
- Another risk is the compatibility of the non-OEM replacement part with other parts of the equipment, most importantly sensors and techniques.
- Also, how soon would the non-OEM replacement parts arrive, and would they void your warranty or not?
- Lastly, would they be as durable and of the same quality as the original?
These, among other questions, are what you should try to honestly answer when deciding between non-OEM replacement parts and genuine OEM parts.
Lastly, it is important to understand that for the manufacturers to have gone out of their way to create the same part of your equipment as a replacement; they are pivotal to extending your equipment life.