Heavy Equipment Maintenance Tips
Your company’s heavy equipment is crucial to your success. It takes on the toughest jobs your staff can’t complete by hand and speeds up processes that would take days to finish normally. Given heavy equipment’s importance to your operations, you likely want to consider ways you can keep it running at peak efficiency for a long time.
Keep your company’s equipment in top working order by learning more about what heavy equipment maintenance is and the benefits of prioritizing it. At Gregory Poole, we have maintenance tips for heavy equipment to help you care for your machinery and maintenance services for when you need a trusted professional.
What Is Heavy Equipment Maintenance?
Heavy equipment service is the steps you take to identify, fix and prevent problems in your machines. Generally, heavy equipment maintenance will involve the inspection, repair and cleaning of your company’s machinery.
You can split maintenance into two different categories: preventative maintenance and reactive maintenance. Preventative maintenance includes scheduled tasks intended to keep your machine running at its best level. Some common examples include tire pressure checks, routine cleanings and oil changes.
In contrast, reactive maintenance happens after a problem has occurred, such as when a piece of equipment doesn’t operate like it’s supposed to or fails entirely. Essentially, reactive maintenance involves fixing problems after they occur, while preventative maintenance is about preventing problems from occurring in the first place.
Why Is Heavy Equipment Maintenance So Important?
Preventative maintenance is one of the best things you can do for your company’s heavy equipment. Some of its benefits include reducing your expenses, lengthening your equipment’s life span and ensuring more equipment is available to your company at all times. Since heavy equipment maintenance can provide so much value, many savvy businesses prioritize it.
Learn more about the top advantages of following heavy equipment service tips:
- Extended life span: When you perform routine maintenance on your construction equipment, you put it in the best position to last for a long time without breaking down or needing major repairs. Conducting preventative repairs can keep machines running longer than those that aren’t maintained and serviced regularly. Longevity is a major benefit, as it keeps your workplace productive and avoids downtime for repairs or replacements on a machine that’s broken down.
- Reduced expenses: Equipment that breaks or fails unexpectedly will likely incur some unexpected expenses. While you can’t prevent every machine failure from occurring, you can reduce the chances of breakdowns with preventative maintenance. When you don’t repair your equipment regularly, it’s more likely that compound failures and other major breakdowns will occur unexpectedly. With regular maintenance, you can save money since you don’t have to pay for replacement parts or lose productivity while waiting for the equipment to be repaired.
- Increased safety: In general, well-maintained construction equipment is safer than neglected machinery. When a piece of equipment fails at an unexpected time, nearby workers or the operator can be seriously injured. Additionally, surrounding property and other materials or equipment can be damaged due to equipment breakdowns. Routine maintenance helps you keep an eye on any potential hazards and repair issues before they become a serious problem.
- Lower risk of litigation: If you don’t regularly maintain and repair your equipment, you open yourself up to potential lawsuits. Non-maintained equipment can fail at the worst possible time, leading to accidents that leave an employee injured or a structure damaged. Whether a lawsuit from an injured employee or a dissatisfied client, you want to avoid equipment negligence and its consequences. Having a regular maintenance program in place can prove you’ve done your due diligence.
- Higher confidence: Equipment operators need to have confidence in their machinery to be as effective and efficient as possible. If the operators are worried about their equipment breaking down, they’ll likely slow down their operation. When you constantly repair and maintain your heavy equipment, your operators can have the confidence they need to use the equipment at its max productivity.
- Greater availability: When equipment is broken down, not having it available for use can hamper your company’s profitability and productivity as you wait for it to be repaired. Performing preventative maintenance can ensure your equipment is almost always available for the tasks you need to accomplish.
Tips for Heavy Equipment Maintenance
When you want to know how to maintain heavy equipment, you may want to check out some of the tips experienced companies use to ensure their construction equipment doesn’t break down unexpectedly or slow down. From scheduling regular maintenance and checking fluids to training operators and cleaning regularly, there are many things you can do to take care of your machinery. To better maintain your equipment, follow the heavy equipment servicing tips below:
1. Schedule Regular Maintenance
Scheduling regular maintenance is one of the first steps you can take to avoid the downfalls of not maintaining your equipment. Instead of performing maintenance when there’s a problem or when you remember to do it, you can add it to your company’s schedule to ensure everyone knows when they should be maintaining heavy equipment.
Scheduled maintenance should revolve around the recommendations from the equipment manufacturer. Manufacturers have details about the best maintenance practices associated with their equipment, and it’s a good idea to use these recommendations while you create your maintenance schedule.
When you regularly perform preventative maintenance practices, like replacing parts before they’re at their full life span or checking for signs of wear, your equipment is less likely to need major repairs or break down unexpectedly. It also helps your machinery maintain a high level of fuel efficiency.
2. Train Operators on Proper Machinery Use
When you train your operators on how to properly use your company’s machines, you reduce the chances they engage in practices that will damage the equipment. An operator who hasn’t been properly trained will often push a piece of equipment past its limits or use it for a task it’s not designed for, leading to equipment damage. Proper machinery use prevents accidents and other damages that may require companies to perform extra maintenance on their equipment.
Training can also include information on how to identify common maintenance issues and proper machine inspection. When operators are trained to perform safety inspection checks, they can ensure the machinery is safe to use. Operators who know more about their equipment can also identify potential maintenance issues through visual cues, performance problems and odd sounds. By spotting issues immediately, operators can keep your machinery running at top performance and make repairs when needed.
To better educate your operators and staff, it’s a good idea to make materials about maintaining construction equipment readily available. Providing operators copies of manuals for the heavy equipment they operate can help them better utilize machinery and troubleshoot issues. No matter how comprehensive your training is, you should have supplementary information available at all times to make sure operators don’t have to rely on their memory alone.
3. Keep Documentation of Repairs and Services
Having a clear record of what maintenance has been conducted is essential to caring for your equipment. Seeing which repairs have and haven’t occurred can give you an idea of what you may need to repair soon. A long history of repairs and services can also help you identify equipment that’s ready to be retired and replaced by something more reliable.
In addition to helping you monitor when your equipment starts to be more trouble than it’s worth to repair, documentation also assists with receiving warranty coverage. Sometimes, warranties require companies to maintain a standard of care on their equipment to remain valid. When you have documentation and repair history available, it’s much more likely your warranty won’t be voided if a machine fails.
4. Check Fluids
Keeping your fluids at the right quality and correct level is crucial to maintaining construction equipment. When you ignore your fluid, you’ll run the risk of increased wear on the machinery’s components and your equipment not running efficiently. Make sure your fluids are filled to the exact specifications. For instance, overfilling the transmission fluid in your machinery can lead it to overheat.
Another critical area to check is if your equipment’s lubricated appropriately. If you want your heavy equipment maintenance to keep everything operating smoothly, you need to properly grease key components. Make sure to check the manufacturer’s recommendation for how much lubricant should be used, ensuring you don’t use too little or too much.
One of the major fluids you should keep an eye on is the oil, as the quality of it can affect how long your equipment operates appropriately. Look out for contaminants in the oil to make sure the quality hasn’t been affected. Keep your oil at the appropriate level, and conduct oil changes at the recommended intervals.
You can even conduct an SOS oil analysis to track the wear of components, oil performance, and condition. In this analysis, the oil will be sent off to a fluid analysis lab for analysis and interpretation. With the results, you can learn more about when you’ll need to conduct different kinds of preventative maintenance. The information this analysis gathers can let you better predict wear-related issues, giving you more information about what you’ll need to watch out for and when you should conduct repairs.
5. Take the Machine’s Environment Into Account
Where you’re storing and using your machine matters. Weather elements like mud, snow, freezing temperatures and extreme heat can affect your machine and necessitate different maintenance requirements. Companies operating in extreme environmental conditions where more stress is placed on the equipment should conduct maintenance and inspections more often than if they were operating in mild conditions.
It’s also best practice to avoid using equipment at extreme temperatures or weather conditions. These conditions can put significant stress on your machinery, so it’s often a good idea to avoid working in them if possible. In addition to avoiding extreme conditions while working, pay attention to the environment where you store the machinery. If you can, store your equipment away from rain, snow and direct sun, which could lead to damaged machinery.
6. Utilize Checklists
One of the main construction equipment maintenance tips is to create checklists for the proper inspection and maintenance steps team members should take when they evaluate a piece of machinery. Creating checklists for each piece of equipment can help your maintenance workers inspect your equipment thoroughly and repair it appropriately. By giving workers the checklist, you reduce the chances of staff missing anything in an inspection or repair.
Checklists can cover more than just visual inspections. You can have checklists covering the operation of the vehicle, ensuring that it’s running well. If the operator notices something that feels off in their operation, they can note it and take whatever action the checklist stipulates. Some warning signs may be diminished performance or odd sounds. By training your operators to use checklists, your team can be on top of any potential issues before they become a problem.
To simplify the inspection process, use a mobile app. Cat Inspect is an easy-to-use mobile application that allows users to download and complete Caterpillar and user-defined inspections on their smartphone.
7. Ask for Customer Value Agreements
If you want to take your machinery’s maintenance to the next level, you may want to ask your supplier for a Customer Value Agreement (CVA). When a piece of equipment needs repairs or reaches a point where a part requires replacement, a CVA ensures you get parts delivered to you quickly with instructions on how to perform the maintenance correctly. The agreement also ensures you’re never behind on servicing your machinery and helps you stay on the best maintenance schedule for your equipment.
When you invest in a CVA, you’ll have access to expert dealer support. This support means you can receive assistance with diagnostics, troubleshooting and repairs, giving you the security you need to feel confident in your equipment. Though a CVA comes with some costs, it can ultimately save you money, as you avoid the expenses of major repairs from neglected equipment.
There are varying CVA options to best meet your operation’s needs — whether your machine is new or used, your operation handles maintenance or prefers dealer maintenance, and whether you prefer a short-term or long-term agreement. Any choice can extend equipment life and maximize your investment.
8. Utilize Genuine Cat® Parts
For companies who use Cat® equipment, genuine Cat parts are an essential component of good maintenance practices. These parts are engineered for Cat equipment and are of the highest quality, ensuring your machinery is running on reliable parts. Genuine Cat parts also offer tighter tolerances and the lowest cost per hour. If you utilize Cat equipment, the benefits of genuine Cat parts make them an essential component of any high-quality maintenance program.
9. Clean Regularly
Cleaning isn’t just about improving the aesthetics of your equipment. While keeping your machine looking good is great for the professionalism of your company, cleaning is also an excellent opportunity for workers to check for signs of damage or other issues. As team members clean your equipment, they should be trained to spot damage and have inspection checklists to follow as they complete the process.
In addition to being an opportunity to inspect your construction equipment, cleaning your machinery is also a form of maintenance. Since dirt and debris can block moving parts or contaminate the engine, it’s important your machine is cleaned regularly. Overall, cleaning is crucial because it makes it much easier to spot damage and it assists with keeping your heavy equipment running well.
10. Use Technology to Your Advantage
Take advantage of the latest technology available to better maintain your heavy equipment. Start by using smartphones and tablets to store checklists with Cat Inspect, to help workers take notes and give staff an easy way to contact each other for advice. These devices also make it simple for staff to access information, as the tablets or smartphones give workers a digital version of checklists and other documents. Instead of searching for physical versions of key maintenance documents, a worker can access needed info any time and anywhere.
The move from physical checklists and other documents to digital ones makes it much easier for staff to enter information and share it faster. With a physical checklist, a worker would have to write down their findings on the list, deliver it to a relevant co-worker or manager and wait for them to read the document and take action. With a digital checklist, workers can immediately share it with others and get a response. It’s also much harder to lose a digital checklist than it is a physical checklist.
For machine information at your fingertips, My.Cat.Com is a web-based hub for digital equipment management, giving you an easy way to take in complex information. Monitor cost, utilization, reliability, age information and other critical data needed to run a business more efficiently and effectively. Access your equipment information and connect with your Cat dealer – all in one place.
My.Cat.com allows you to track machine hours, location and fuel, keep track of preventative maintenance tasks & receive health and maintenance alerts to act fast, avoiding unplanned downtime. It also allows you to view Equipment Protection Plans, S•O•S fluid analysis results, OMMs, service letters, work orders, warranty information and service history.
11. Customize Maintenance and Service Actions Based on Type of Machine
Your fleet likely has a variety of different machines. Each of these pieces of heavy equipment will have different requirements that affect the type of maintenance you perform on them. One of the major maintenance tips for construction equipment is knowing that there isn’t a one-size-fits-all solution for your equipment. As a result, you may want to take the time to evaluate each machine individually.
In your evaluation, you can review the manufacturer’s recommendations to determine when certain actions should be taken. Incorporate these specifics into the checklist you have for particular pieces of equipment to alert operators to each machine’s different requirements. Customized checklists can keep your operators on top of any machine-specific challenge.
12. Find a Reliable Seller for Parts and Services
As you work to take care of your equipment, one of the primary maintenance tips for heavy equipment is to find a trustworthy supplier for your machinery’s parts. You don’t want to trust just anyone to provide the advice and parts you need to keep your machinery well maintained.
Work with a team that has a track record of providing high-quality parts to their clients. Additionally, look for a seller who can provide maintenance service for times when your staff needs assistance with a repair. When you work with a supplier who can provide both high-quality parts and service, you’ll be setting your machinery up for success and streamlining the maintenance process.
Learn More About Our Heavy Equipment Maintenance Services
Now that you have a strong grasp of what is involved in heavy equipment repair, you may want to find a supplier for your parts and service requirements. Gregory Poole has been serving the needs of construction companies for nearly 70 years. Based in eastern North Carolina, we offer cost-effective parts for various machines and exceptional support for companies that buy or rent our equipment. If you’re interested in purchasing parts for your equipment, you can browse our collection of parts.
Check out our many heavy equipment maintenance services to find out how you can better protect your equipment and keep your fleet running at peak efficiency. If you have equipment that needs expert inspections or repairs, make an equipment service request today.