Protect your investment with these preventative measures
Heavy equipment is probably your company’s largest investment and the backbone of your business. Proper and regular maintenance is imperative for extending the life of that equipment and getting the most return on your investment.
Whether you’re in the mining, farming, construction, or aviation industry, unplanned downtime or replacement expenses can lead to enormous financial loss and even affect your competitive edge. In times of economic uncertainty, proper maintenance of your heavy equipment takes on even more importance to avoid the high cost of replacement.
Here are five simple but impactful preventative measures you can take to maintain your heavy equipment and extend its longevity.
1. Train Your Operators
Because heavy equipment can have many different operators, it’s important that everyone knows and understands proper operation procedures. Untrained operators run the risk of putting excess strain on equipment, accelerating equipment wear, and suffering a workplace injury. Incorrect operations can also lead to parts failures and loss of productivity.
The best way to avoid these situations is to regularly train your operators. Training should include Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) requirements for operating heavy machinery, as well as equipment- and manufacturer-specific training. Ensuring that your equipment is being operated correctly and safely can help reduce breakdowns and equipment malfunctions.
2. Replace Parts on Time
Replacing heavy equipment parts isn’t cheap. It may be tempting to try and save money on parts replacement by exceeding the manufacturer-recommended lifetime or usage limits. While it may seem like a good idea at the time, the long-term effects would likely negate any short-term savings.
Old, worn out parts can lead to reduced efficiency, cause damage to other parts, and become a safety hazard. Instead of being reactive to broken machinery, be proactive with regular inspections, scheduled maintenance, and on-time parts replacements.
3. Don’t Overwork Machinery
Heavy equipment is built to last through arduous tasks performed for long hours in the harshest of climates, but that doesn’t mean they can’t be damaged by pushing the machine’s limits or using it for the wrong type of work.
All heavy machinery has performance limitations and specifications that can be found in the owner’s manual. Since a particular piece of machinery can be used in a variety of settings, it’s crucial to understand and abide by the specifications, such as weight limits and the correct power mode, for each task.
4. Clean Your Equipment
Dirty equipment not only looks bad and can be seen as unprofessional, but excessive dirt and grime can damage parts, cause corrosion, and hide issues that need to be addressed. Cleaning your equipment is an easy way to keep it in good shape, as well as providing an opportunity to inspect for any needed repairs or maintenance.
Check and change filters often, inspect seals and electronics, and clean the cab. When not in use, store heavy equipment in a clean environment, preferably in a sheltered area away from the elements to avoid rust and rot.
5. Maintain and Service Your Equipment with High-Quality Lubricants
Adhering to the preventative maintenance schedule recommended by the manufacturer is the best way to extend the life of your heavy equipment and machinery. Regularly inspecting and changing the oil and other lubricants is the most important part of preventative maintenance.
The demands placed upon a lubricant and the operating conditions vary greatly with different components. To protect the equipment and address the demands placed upon the oil, lubricants have significantly different physical and chemical characteristics. Original equipment manufacturers (OEMs) stipulate the specifications for the lubricant, which are needed to minimize wear, maximize performance, and ensure the safe operation of the equipment. This information is normally found in the service manual.
It is also important to consistently use the correct oil to maximize the life and performance of equipment. Don’t top off with an incorrect oil for convenience.
Using the right amount of lubricant matters too. Too little lubricant can increase the risk of friction and equipment wear, while on the other hand, too much lubricant can build up and cause performance issues. Also, check for leaks and repair them right away to avoid bigger problems down the road.
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