Construction equipment maintenance is a scheduled, proactive approach to equipment repair instead of an unscheduled repair carried out after equipment breakdown. It focuses on taking the necessary steps to prevent machine failure from the very beginning. One of the major challenges of running a construction company is maintaining several high-value heavy machines. This is why construction equipment maintenance is crucial for every business that handles heavy machinery.
With construction equipment maintenance, you’ll be able to improve equipment efficiency, longevity, and safety. You’ll also lower business costs from repair expenses and reduce the likelihood of unexpected breakdowns and downtimes, which could result in a significant amount of loss for your construction company. No entrepreneur wants to experience a sudden equipment failure that could constitute an environmental hazard and severely injure an operator or any other worker close by. Furthermore, properly maintained construction equipment will have a higher trade-in or resale value if your company decides to replace them.
There are two major types of construction equipment maintenance, both of which work hand-in-hand to extend the lifespan of heavy equipment and keep their operations running smoothly. They are – preventive maintenance and routine maintenance. Routine maintenance is carried out on an ongoing, scheduled basis to keep machinery operating optimally. This type of maintenance is primarily focused on servicing the machine parts so they can be ready for work.
Generally, routine maintenance doesn’t require highly specialized skills; it can be performed by machine operators. On the other hand, preventive maintenance requires special skills because it involves more than simple equipment maintenance. It is a systematic inspection, correction, detection, and prevention of equipment failures before they occur or worsen. The following tips will show you how to maintain heavy construction equipment properly.
1. Develop an Equipment Maintenance Program
Creating a maintenance program is the first step to keeping your construction equipment in great shape all the time. When there’s an established program in place, your employees will see that your company takes equipment maintenance seriously and follow the pre-set standards.
So, you need to list out all the preventive and routine maintenance each construction machinery requires and develop an inspection routine for them. Also, determine who will be responsible for executing the routine maintenance program. Depending on the size of your company, the person responsible for this program could be the head service technician, fleet manager, or you (the owner).
2. Keep Operational Records
The best way to monitor your construction equipment maintenance is by keeping complete, accurate operational records. Having a checklist on hand will help you ensure that no step is left out. Also, with a checklist, it will be much easier to keep those employees responsible for preventive and routine equipment maintenance accountable.
Consider creating daily, weekly, and monthly maintenance checklists to use at the beginning, middle, and close of each shift. Your warm-up (beginning) checklist can include an inspection of your air filter system, dashboard gauges, lights, hydraulic system, brakes, and fluid levels. Check your engine coolant, swing drives, steering tank, and hydraulic oil.
Most lubricant producers follow lubricating oil standards to ensure that their oils withstand high-pressure operating conditions. Consider finding out the ideal standards for your equipment, establishing written guidelines for your fluid levels, and documenting periodic fluid refills. This can help your maintenance personnel detect potential operational problems early.
Your mid-operation equipment checklist should focus on watching and listening for irregularities. So, your operations personnel will need to monitor gauges, listen for unusual noises, feel for excessive vibrations, and watch out for any equipment performance changes. The shutdown checklist should remind your equipment operator to allow the machinery to idle for a few minutes before shutting down completely, fill the fuel tank, park the equipment in a safe place and clean it.
3. Do Not Exceed Equipment Performance Limits
Your operation personnel should observe the published performance guidelines of your heavy construction equipment to avoid exceeding the performance limits. This will help reduce the likelihood of machine failures. So, you must ensure that all operators and support personnel are well trained to handle your heavy construction equipment. They should also be conversant with all maintenance requirements and quickly report any non-functioning machine parts.
If you are working on large or long-term projects, consider establishing and maintaining a rapid response repair team. This team can be readily available onsite with common spare parts like belts, fluids, and filters to attend to any issues that may occur during operation. They should also have access to a heavy lift service truck.