Just like with regular vehicles, maintaining heavy equipment is essential. They cost a great deal to acquire, and while they are designed to endure heavy workloads, they are prone to wear and tear.
Owners and operators will need to conduct preventive maintenance and observe proper care tips. If you overlook both, these machines will eventually consume more fuel, become less efficient, and suffer from a shorter lifespan.
If you want to improve the longevity of your heavy assets and enhance onsite productivity, here are a few tips to keep in mind for better maintenance.
Establish care and maintenance protocols
Coming up with instructions for how to care for heavy equipment is crucial to making sure your assets are all in good condition. This is also essential if you are planning to purchase new equipment or hiring new operators. Manuals and checklists for safety inspections, performance monitoring, and regular maintenance should be strictly followed by operators before these assets are handed over.
As part of your maintenance protocols, make sure you have a complete list of tasks that will help you detect mechanical issues and conduct routine maintenance checks. Apart from regular wear and tear, you may also determine if the machines require fluid replacements and fastener adjustments. Make sure to record each task, so other operators know where to start.
Check the tires and tracks
Whether it’s a small truck or a payloader, any piece of heavy equipment must be checked for mobility issues. If you are working on highly rugged or wet terrain, mud and dirt can put a strain on the wheels and tracks. Such scenarios can lead to sudden failure, which will lead to costly repairs and prolonged downtime.
For both wheeled and tracked equipment, you will need to follow maintenance specifications outlined by the manufacturer. Trucks should be inspected for rust and damage on the rims and shafts. Apart from that, the tires should be inflated to the right pressure. If you have a mini excavator or other tracked machines, make sure to inspect for damage on the tracks, rollers, and links. For rubber tracks, you will need to check if there are any signs of tension. The earlier you do this, the longer it would take before a track replacement is required.
Keep to a regular cleaning schedule
Most instances of mechanical failure and wear-and-tear can be prevented through thorough cleaning. The accumulation of dirt, mud, and other debris can decrease the efficiency of your equipment. If you have been using your equipment for long periods of time, make sure to have these undergo deep cleaning on top of basic daily cleaning.
For regular cleaning, have your operators wash the machines using a pressure washer. Use hot water so you can easily loosen up caked mud and debris. Make sure to go around the wheels and tracks as well. When it comes to deep cleaning, you may need to take apart any removable components and have these washed and wiped. You will need to follow this up by applying a degreaser. Let the substance rest before rinsing it away using a pressure washer.
Cleaning of heavy equipment must be done consistently, so you’ll need to set up cleaning schedules for each asset that you have as part of your operational protocols.
Check the engine
Engine maintenance is indispensable. Considering that it will cost you more to purchase a replacement engine, it would make sense to ensure the internal components that run the machine will be working for a much longer time. Moreover, checking your engine helps you identify and fix issues that lead to higher fuel consumption.
You need to inspect the engine at least once a month. Focus on checking your fluid levels and determine if it’s the right time to drain and replace the oil and coolant. Apart from that, you need to check the battery terminals and the battery itself for corrosion which often leads to hard starts and electrical failure. You may also need to check your air filters and vents for blockage.
Check your electronics and fluid lines
These small details have a significant impact on the performance and efficiency of your machines. Start by checking the lights. If they flicker or fail to turn on, see if replacing the bulbs would fix. In most cases, these are caused by tears in the wiring, so consider inspecting the machine’s electrical system and replacing damaged or exposed wires. You may also test your electronic hardware for responsiveness.
When it comes to fluids, you may need to inspect your brake and fuel lines for any leaks. More importantly, you need to check your hydraulic systems for damages. Leakage from cylinders and hoses contributes a great deal to mechanical failure, so make sure to follow the manufacturer’s guidelines for hydraulic maintenance.
Find a reliable parts dealer
You need to be prepared for any contingency. Regardless of how strictly you follow maintenance protocols and care tips, nothing can prepare you for sudden scenarios that will damage heavy equipment. In addition to that, certain components will need to be replaced. Although proper care can prolong the life of these components, they can become less reliable as the workload increases.
With this in mind, you need to know who to call for replacement parts. If the warranty is still in force, you can order replacements from the manufacturer itself or ship the machine to a certified service center, depending on the terms of the warranty. In case your warranty has lapsed, you can order specific components such as undercarriages and rubber tracks from a third-party heavy equipment part supplier. Just be sure to check if the supplier carries the brand of heavy equipment that you have.
Heavy machinery is crucial for projects that require a high amount of work. In order to extend the life of your assets and avoid costly repairs, consider the tips above for maintaining the efficiency and reliability of these massive tools.