How to Boost Heavy Equipment Productivity
Contractors have enormous responsibilities in managing construction jobs, including buying, renting, maintaining and operating heavy equipment. Whether you’re renting or buying construction equipment, you want to know it’s helping you achieve higher productivity, not lowering it. Many contractors are looking for ways to get the most out of their equipment by maximizing operating efficiency, reducing downtime and monitoring machine health.
In tough, competitive markets, any limitations or obstacles to peak performance can impact your bottom line. By implementing the right processes and leveraging machine technology and data, you can be sure to maximize your heavy equipment production rates and increase the profitability of each job as much as possible.
How to Improve Equipment Productivity
Equipment productivity generally refers to the time during which the machine is in operation performing productive work. The more efficiently the workers can complete their tasks, the higher the production level is. Equipment productivity applies whether you’re an equipment owner or you’ve rented a machine for the week.
No matter the case, whenever equipment isn’t in use for any reason, or someone is operating it incorrectly, it’s being non-productive or not as productive as it could be.
Poor equipment productivity is a leading contributor to many problems that contractors face, including increased and unexpected costs that cause budget creeps. Non-productive hours can slowly add up throughout the day, week, month and year. It’s estimated that the average contractor can expect 800 to 900 productive hours annually from a typical piece of equipment. At best, that translates to a productivity rate of only 62%. In other words, the productivity rate of construction equipment has an opportunity to improve by nearly 40%. Low equipment productivity rates are preventing contractors from earning higher profits, but there are practical solutions to curb this trend.
To increase equipment productivity, you need to ask yourself what productivity means to you. Increased equipment productivity can refer to better work efficiency, more project profitability, improved job site safety or higher quality work produced. There are many aspects involved in maximizing construction equipment productivity rates. In general, every productivity solution involves assessing your people, processes or the technology and systems you use. It requires an investment in them to make them more productive.
With this in mind, here are 10 of the top ways you can get the most out of your equipment and earn higher returns and production rates on each project.
1. Choose Certified Used Equipment
Getting the highest construction equipment productivity rates doesn’t necessarily mean going out and buying the newest and most heavy-duty model available. While there are some definite pros to buying new equipment, there are just as many benefits to renting or buying used equipment — as long as the equipment manufacturer certifies it for rent or sale.
Equipment breakdowns and malfunctions can have costly outcomes on a job site that’s looking to maximize equipment productivity. To prevent unexpected downtime due to poor-performing equipment, be sure to rent or buy used equipment from a supplier that’s authorized to sell the brand of equipment you need. Some outlets don’t maintain their equipment by the same standards others do. They don’t have the technical expertise or product knowledge required to service and repair intricate and complex machines from some of the world’s leading manufacturing brands.
When you rent or buy used equipment, you need to know the machine has received correct service at the highest standards possible. For high-quality and well-maintained used or rented equipment, trust Gregory Poole as your source for genuine Cat® heavy-duty equipment.
2. Select the Right Equipment for the Job
If you’re renting heavy equipment for your construction site, it’s essential to get the right tools for the job. Sometimes, contractors rent equipment that’s too small, either because that’s all the supplier had available or because they miscalculated their capacity needs. Renting equipment that’s too small can reduce your productivity by taking longer to complete the job. On the other hand, machinery that’s too big for the project adds unnecessary costs. Oversized equipment is not only unnecessarily complicated for the job, but it can also cause added management time that comes with a bigger, more intricate machine.
Even if you own your equipment, it’s still worth analyzing each project to see if it’s more cost-effective to rent a machine that’s better equipped for the job. No two projects are the same, so your equipment may not be as productive as a machine that’s available to rent. Choosing the most productive equipment for the job will also ensure you produce higher quality work. High-quality work that’s done right the first time mitigates the risk of having to perform expensive re-work, which extends rental agreements, puts more wear and tear on the equipment and tacks on costs for the operator’s time.
Contractors need to know their dealer has experienced staff with the expertise to recommend the right equipment for the job. They also need to be certain their dealer will have the desired equipment available when they need it. Partnering with a supplier like Gregory Poole ensures you have access to a wide range of machines through our extensive dealer network.
3. Schedule Jobs Wisely
Just as contractors prepare schedules for labor and materials delivery, they must also plan out their equipment calendars. Make sure you know exactly when you’ll need your equipment — the date and exact time. Block off project time based on how long the project will take to complete. Make sure the equipment arrives at the site ahead of the scheduled work, as inspection and preparation time can slowly erode heavy equipment production rates.
For contractors running multiple jobs at a time, smart equipment scheduling is essential to maximizing productivity. Multiple projects can complicate things, so make sure you’re scheduling your equipment to be productive for the majority of the week. There are plenty of project management systems available today that can plan out a production schedule for you, taking out the guesswork for contractors.
Another aspect to consider with equipment rentals specifically is to secure your rental well ahead of time. Planning ensures you get the equipment you need, not something too big or too small. Ask to have the equipment delivered on the afternoon or evening before the job will start. Have the operator review the equipment and get familiar with its systems and controls. On the first day of the new project, you can jump in rather than spend additional preparation time on a production day.
4. Follow a Preventive Maintenance Program
There’s no better way for contractors to protect their investment and get the most out of their heavy equipment than to follow a preventive maintenance program. A regular PM program can increase a contractor’s profits by an estimated 10% due to reliable, smooth-running machines.
Preventive maintenance means not only scheduling regular servicing, but it also means monitoring your equipment with every use to ensure you’re catching any issues before they affect productivity. Check the equipment each day before beginning work to ensure it’s functioning properly. Be sure to check it again at the end of the day to ensure it is free from damage. If there are any issues, have them repaired or addressed before beginning another production day.
As an equipment owner, you need to be aware of the service requirements of each component and when to inspect them. Ask operators about any noticeable wear and tear they can feel during operation, such as vibrations or heat. By ensuring all parts are functioning properly, you’ll get maximum use from your machine on every job.
5. Keep Detailed Equipment Operating Records
When you invest in heavy equipment for your contracting business, it pays to develop excellent record-keeping skills. Being detail-oriented about operating records and maintenance plans is essential to maximizing production time and extending the machine’s life cycle. Comprehensive records will include the following information you can use to increase the productivity of your construction equipment.
- Operating hours: Record how long you and your crew used the equipment on any given day, week or month. Documenting how long the equipment was actually in use also gives you a clearer picture of equipment downtime levels — non-productive time where the machine stood idle.
- Operating costs: When calculating operating costs, there are lots of factors to take into account. The real cost of operating construction equipment includes not just the operator’s time, but also fuel, insurance, wear and tear, maintenance and repairs, equipment depreciation and non-productive time for other trades on the site.
- Profitability and return on investment: When you deduct your true equipment operating costs from the value it generated, you’ll be able to determine your return on investment from the equipment. Measuring the profitability of your equipment gives you a job-to-job metric of your equipment production rates and highlights opportunities to improve it.
You can keep track of these equipment records manually with spreadsheets. Or, you can take advantage of the latest in construction technology and equipment management software that automatically performs these calculations for you.
6. Communicate Hourly Cost of Equipment Operation
In addition to bookkeeping and ensuring business profitability, there’s another critical reason for calculating your equipment operating costs. As a job site manager or contractor, it’s your responsibility to maximize production rates and communicate this goal with operators and tradespeople.
It’s safe to assume most operators or workers aren’t fully aware of the genuine cost of equipment operation the contractor incurs. Workers may be aware of the general costs associated with equipment operation, such as rental fees, fuel and insurance, but they may not appreciate what an investment it is to run heavy equipment on a job site. On some sites, you’ll see the hourly operating cost of equipment posted either in the office or on the machine itself, letting everyone know how critical production time is. By helping your operators and site workers understand the genuine hourly cost of operating the equipment, you’ll be more likely to gain their support in maximizing production time too.
7. Track Equipment Downtime
If you want to make informed decisions about how to increase equipment productivity, you must keep track of a machine’s downtime. A machine’s idle time costs you money, as every minute it isn’t in use is a lost opportunity for production. Downtime delays how quickly you can complete a job and move on to the next contract. Keeping track of equipment downtime can help you see how much productivity time you may be losing on any given job.
But it’s not enough to keep track of the downtime itself. It’s also essential to know the cause of downtime. Equipment malfunctions, operator errors, ill-prepared job sites and countless other possible delays all contribute to downtime. By understanding what obstacles are preventing you from maintaining high equipment productivity rates, you can intervene and reduce the chance of downtime.
8. Hire Experienced Operators
Just as getting the right machine for the job is essential to job site productivity, so is hiring the right equipment operator. To get the most out of your heavy equipment investment or rental, it’s necessary for the operators using the equipment to be highly skilled and fully trained in operating the specific piece of equipment. Ensure they understand the machine control systems and available technology tools that will help them get their job done faster, safer and more efficiently.
Hiring trained and skilled heavy equipment operators also reduces the chance of damaging the equipment or injuring themselves and others. Skilled operators have specialized training in accident prevention, following key job site protocols to maintain good visibility and to ensure plenty of room for safe operation. Staying safe on the job site is a top way to stay productive and prevent costly delays.
You should be able to trust your operator to run the equipment properly for its intended purpose and without overloading the equipment or delaying work due to inefficient performance. A machine operator must also take on the responsibility of checking the equipment over before and after operation to urgently address any repair or maintenance issues. Encourage operators to share machine health statuses with you so you can mitigate wear and tear and know what to add to your preventive maintenance plan.
9. Encourage Feedback
Running a construction job is tough. There’s a lot to account for and a lot at stake. That’s why one of your most valuable and possibly untapped resources is your people and their feedback. Getting to know what operators like and don’t like about the equipment you’ve provided can help ensure that moving forward, your jobs are getting more productive, not stagnating.
Your operator may have a wealth of knowledge that will help you get the most out of your equipment, including whether you’re getting the right equipment, scheduling jobs correctly, keeping track of operation time appropriately, ordering the correct parts and giving them any other additional tools they’ll need to get the job done.
10. Take Advantage of Machine Data
Did you know heavy equipment today can connect with advanced data analytics systems that offer valuable information on your machine’s productivity levels? With machine operating data, you and your operators can know when people are running machines at their peak intended performance or when they are managing their tasks incorrectly. This type of technology can also alert operators to any safety issues that could cause devastating accidents and costly delays. This type of insight can give contractors and equipment operators the peace of mind in knowing they’re producing high-quality work, safely.
Using machine data-gathering technology, operators can also program the equipment to automate repetitive tasks like grading, which they can do faster and with fewer passes. Machine data also lets operators know when their equipment has reached maximum safe payload, so they can move more material in fewer cycles. Machine automation is vital for any contractor looking to increase equipment productivity through higher work efficiency.
Having access to equipment data is a true competitive advantage that gives you an exact solution for maximizing productivity to improve your bottom line. You can find all this tech and more in Cat Connect. Whatever productivity means to you, you can achieve it with Cat Connect Technology and Services.
Cat Connect Technology for Maximum Equipment Production Rates
Cat Connect helps contractors gain more control over their job site performance. It also allows customers to monitor, manage and improve machine operations so you can increase uptime while keeping operating costs low. Cat Connect can deliver key information about a machine’s health, efficiency and overall performance on the job site. Here are some of the benefits of Cat Connect Technology and Services for contractors who want to improve equipment productivity.
- Reduce operating costs: Having access to machine health data improves profitability. By knowing whether your workers are operating machines correctly, you can get jobs done quicker and reduce expensive operating time. You’ll also reduce fuel consumption and shorten rental times for rented equipment. When improved productivity means ensuring your jobs earn more profit, Cat Connect can help.
- Increase project efficiency: The goal of Cat Connect Technology and Services is to make job sites more efficient and productive. Operators can program the equipment for optimal payload capacities, cycle times and grading and compacting work. When you’re managing multiple jobs in a competitive market, automation from Cat Connect can ensure you get more work done at higher levels of quality.
- Maintain safety: Nothing can interfere with productivity like unsafe work. Cat Connect allows you to improve your job site awareness with cameras and proximity detection technology to prevent accidents and damage. A safe work site is a productive one, and Cat Connect can help ensure a project remains accident-free.
- Extend product lifecycle: Keep your equipment running at peak performance longer with Cat Connect’s machine maintenance data. Cat Connect can help you follow a thoughtful preventive maintenance program by sending you recommendations on necessary repairs and servicing. Cat Connect provides you with detailed information that prescribes the right solution to pressing maintenance issues so you can stay on top of servicing and get more use out of your equipment.
Cat Connect is an intelligent suite of hardware, software and dealer services to help you run a more profitable operation. Construction is a highly competitive industry. Additional insight into your equipment’s performance only serves to help you get more work done faster and safer so you can manage more jobs profitability.
Improve Equipment Productivity With Equipment From Gregory Poole
Contractors have more opportunity to stay productive today than ever before. Reputable machinery manufacturers like Cat provide operators with valuable machine operating data so contractors can know how to get the most from their equipment. Cat Connect represents a new wave of construction technology that allows customers to harness real-time, intelligent data to make smarter decisions about productivity. All Cat operators can now stay connected with Cat’s mobile app, so you have key analytics right at your fingertips.
For the most productive equipment available, partner with Gregory Poole Equipment Company. As a highly reputable and experienced heavy equipment dealer, Gregory Poole helps business owners achieve maximum productivity with advanced machine technology. Our experienced experts can help you select the right machinery, along with technology and services so you can reach the productivity levels you want. Our reliable and dependable equipment combined with Cat Connect technology and services will ensure you’re getting a machine that’s ready to perform at its peak.
For more information on productivity solutions tailored to your heavy equipment needs, contact Gregory Poole — an authorized Cat equipment dealer in Eastern North Carolina. Call us at 800-451-7278 or connect with us online.