Article by Nina Sharpe
Owning heavy machinery (like skid loaders) can be expensive, but just like everything else in your inventory, it’s an investment. An investment that will slowly pay off itself – if you take proper care of it.
But even small repairs for heavy machinery can cost you thousands of dollars, not including the cost of downtime, inefficient operations, loss of time and productivity, and in certain cases, the cost of rental machinery. But such instances can be avoided through inexpensive but impactful preventive measures. Here are 5 of them.
1. Read The Instruction Manual
The instruction manual can be a lifesaver and a gold mine of crucial information like maximum specifications – key to understanding the limitations of your machine. Note what the manufacturer specifies as the max load, max temperatures, recommended fluid levels, etc. Exceeding (or in some cases not reaching) these specifications not only increases wear and tear but also puts workers at risk.
You can also find other recommendations directly from the manufacturer for smoother operations.
2. Don’t Miss Scheduled/Recommended Repairs
Instead of being reactive to broken machinery, be proactive with regular inspection. The most common method of doing this is to keep records of past repairs and scheduled servicing like oil changes. You can do this manually by maintaining a paper ledger or a computer spreadsheet. However, an automated solution might work better if your heavy machinery is spread out over multiple sites.
Some of the top-rated preventive maintenance software on the market in 2019.
● UpKeep ● eMaint CMMS ● Hippo CMMS
It may be hard to keep track of upcoming scheduled maintenance or past repairs but it is a must.
3. Lubricate Regularly
Machinery Lubrication found that increase in oil changes that amounted to an extra $14,000 a year leads to a $466,000 increase in profit a year which came from not having to replace as many parts. Your returns may not be as crazy as 33 times but even so, investing in high-quality lubricants and changing them frequently will always be a good investment.
Here are a few things to note about proper lubrication:
● There are different lubricants for different machinery. Make sure you get the right one. You can generally find the recommended type in the user manual from the manufacturer.
● Too much lubricant can lead to a build-up of grease while too little means friction and increased wear and tear.
● Make sure to regularly check lubricant levels. If the levels are going down too quickly, you may have a leak on your hands.
4. Train Your Employees
If the operators do not know the correct way to operate the machines, they run the risk of putting excess strain leading to faster wear and tear. Incorrect operations can also lead to workplace injuries, parts failures, and loss of productivity. The best way to avoid these situations is to hire an expert to train your operators.
The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) has guidelines and safety precautions needed when operating heavy machinery – be sure to follow these safety guidelines or you may become vulnerable to potential litigation.
Apart from routine operations, employee training should also include safety precautions and emergency protocols. Make sure to retrain employees as often as the industry standard or when you deploy new heavy machinery. One way to avoid excess training and possibly confusing your employees is to do what airlines do – stick to one machinery from one manufacturer or of one type. If you do decide to go this route, choose an outlet from where you get a wide range of products and manufacturers for added convenience.
5. Clean Your Equipment
Pretty obvious, huh? Cleaning your equipment is so obvious that many of us forget to put any extra thought into doing it – and we end up not doing at all. However, in order for this step to be effective, you need to be thorough. While cleaning your machines, follow this checklist:
● Check and clean valves, pumps, and filters (daily check recommended).
● Check and clean the onboard electronics and computer systems annually.
● Clean and replace fans, motors, and tighten electrical distribution system annually.
The most common and the most effective method of cleaning grease and grime that can solidify over long periods of time is using a high-pressure washer. You can buy one yourself and hire a local company to do it for you. If you choose the former option, make sure you and your employees are wearing the required protective equipment including full-length coveralls, protective footwear/boots, face and eye protection (glasses and masks), and gloves.
And there you have it, 5 simple and proven maintenance tips to increase the life of your heavy equipment.
Nina Sharpe is a freelance writer specializing in a few niches, including Home & Garden. Writing engaging and high-quality content ranging from interior design and landscape architecture to commercial construction and heavy equipment. Her vice in life is a nice glass of red wine, a great cup of coffee (black), and sandy toes on the beach.