Keeping a comprehensive and proactive maintenance strategy for your heavy machinery or equipment will help you avoid costly downtime. Regular maintenance allows you to foresee when a component of the heavy machinery may fail. Routine heavy machinery care entails arranging routine procedures to ensure that machinery performs at its best. Visual inspections like checking for wear and tear, thorough cleaning of the machinery, technical monitoring, and oil analysis are all part of preventive maintenance, which allows you to see problems early and correct them before they become severe.
Heavy Machinery Care: What is Heavy Machinery/Equipment
Before we discuss heavy machinery care more thoroughly let us first discuss what heavy machinery is. Heavy equipment, often known as heavy machinery, refers to heavy-duty vehicles that are specifically built to complete construction activities, most commonly earthwork operations or other significant construction projects. Implementation, traction, structure, power train, control, and information are the five equipment systems found in most heavy equipment.
Heavy equipment works by multiplying the ratio of input force delivered to force exerted, allowing operations that would otherwise require hundreds of people and weeks of effort to be completed in a fraction of the time.
Hydraulic drives are used as the major source of motion in several machines. Examples of heavy machinery include but are not limited to cement mixers, backhoe, crane, ditch witch, earth mover, dozer, generator, grader, tractor or any similar device. The most expensive piece of construction equipment you could own is heavy machinery. It's also the most expensive to fix or replace so heavy machinery care is something you should take seriously.
Heavy machinery is the lifeblood of most manufacturing operations. So when something happens to the equipment due to lack of heavy machinery care, it is very bad for business. Based on a survey sponsored by Service Max and done by Vanson Bourne of GE Digital during the last three years, 82 percent of businesses have encountered unanticipated downtime. The disruptions lasted an average of four hours and cost $2 million each. As a result, nearly 72 percent of businesses have made zero unexpected downtime a top objective.
The best approach to avoid unforeseen downtime is to perform proactive maintenance on your heavy machinery/equipment. Being serious about your heavy machinery care helps you keep expenses under control. Because parts are checked on a regular basis, well-maintained automobiles and other equipment types reduce maintenance and downtime expenses. So you'll know if something has to be changed ahead of time and can plan it before it becomes a problem. Regular maintenance also helps to extend the life of equipment, maintain it under warranty, and keep service intervals under control. With this in mind, it's critical to figure out how often and when preventative maintenance should be performed.
How do you maintain heavy equipment?
- Know your equipment from top to bottom.
You can't develop a strong preventative maintenance program without a thorough grasp of the product. Take the time to read the instructions and manuals that came with your equipment. It's also a good idea to look up model-specific information on the manufacturer's website.
- Employees should be trained how to use and take care of the heavy machinery.
Operator inexperience can lead to equipment failure, wear and strain, and even injuries. Employee training is also the best technique to ensure that your equipment operates within the predetermined operating parameters because they learn everything there is to know about it. Furthermore, local, state, and federal laws may compel you to engage certified and trained staff to operate certain types of heavy machinery.
Make sure that all of your staff understand how the heavy machine operates, what the emergency plan is, and what safety precautions they should take when using it. Typically, most business owners provide training to their personnel at the time a large machine is installed. Operator training, on the other hand, is not a one-time event. Skills rust, personnel come and go, and equipment may receive software or hardware updates over time. As a result, you should inspect and upgrade the knowledge base and abilities of your operators on a regular basis.
Operators may be tempted to skip a few safety measures or expedite the process in order to meet a deadline, especially if they are behind on work. Allowing your personnel to rush will result in blunders and even deadly mishaps. Even a simple rule like the use of mobile phones can mean life and death. Operators should not be allowed to use cell phones or any other distractions while operating heavy machinery.
- Make sure that lubricant is replaced on a regular basis.
Vehicle lubricants or oil are required for the proper operation of all sorts of heavy machinery. These liquids reduce friction between moving parts, resulting in less wear and tear. By reducing soot formation, the lubricants also assist keep the interior of heavy machines clean.
Regularly check the level of lubrication. Regularly inspect for excess grease build-up and oil seal leakage. Always use a lubricant that is recommended by the manufacturer or specified in the operator's manual. Use the proper lubricant quantity. Increased friction and wear and tear are possible if you apply too little lubrication. Excessive lubrication, on the other hand, leads to oil buildup and poor performance.
- Clean the Machines Regularly and Thoroughly.
A regular cleaning program is another vital step a company takes to keep and maintain heavy equipment in good operating order. Heavy construction equipment is exposed to harsh environmental conditions while on the job. The forces of nature will batter machinery, from pounding rain to muddy terrain to dust storms. Cleaning equipment on a regular basis allows maintenance professionals to keep a better check of the condition of various objects. This method also contributes to the appearance of heavy equipment on construction sites.
And not only that heavy machinery care does not only mean cleaning regularly but also thoroughly. Cleaning thoroughly is just as important as keeping the lubricant levels in check. Regrettably, most businesses pay little attention to this step. Filters, seals, cooling fans, and vents can become clogged with soot, grit, and dust, reducing overall performance over time. Make sure to thoroughly inspect each component of your apparatus.
Using a hose to vigorously remove dirt traces is the simplest approach to clean any heavy machinery. However, there are a few sections of the machines that are difficult to clean with a basic water hose, such as iron chains and pins or brass bearings. They may also contain impurities that are difficult to remove, such as grease or grime. Cleaning such parts may necessitate the use of specialized cleaning procedures such as power or pressure washing, steam cleaning, and acid washing, among others.
- Examine the machinery for signs of wear and tear.
Poor operating habits, accidents, environmental variables, and age are all causes that can cause wear and tear over time. Even if you take every precaution, age will inevitably affect the machines' vital components.
Examine the condition of the tires and the vehicle’s axle. Even while manufacturers often construct very durable mobility mechanisms for heavy equipment, it's still a good idea to inspect the sections of the gear that come into touch with the ground on a regular basis. Debris, such as loose gravel or mud, can get stuck in hard-to-reach places, and removing it helps the machinery run more smoothly. Checking the wear and general condition of the dump truck, trailer tires, and axles can also assist prevent difficulties in the field.
Inspect for leaks as well. During routine heavy equipment cleaning procedures, look for visual symptoms of oil leakage. Create documented protocols for this type of inspection. Owners of this pricey equipment can receive necessary repairs much sooner by paying attention to potentially leaky valves, assisting the machinery's operation.
Check for any misalignment as well. In some cases, the uneven terrains in which heavy equipment is frequently used might make vehicle alignment difficult. Although this sort of technology can resist harsher circumstances than many other vehicles, appropriate alignment is still necessary in some cases. Regular inspections to address this issue can help extend the useful life of some construction equipment.
- Stay within performance specifications.
All heavy equipment has a set of performance limitations, such as a maximum load capacity, a working pressure and temperature range, and other restrictions. Be careful you properly research the performance limitations of your equipment by consulting the operator's manual and be strict about following the limitations.
Excessive wear and tear, as well as reduced lifetime, will result from exceeding the performance specifications and limitations. Unfortunately, exceeding the performance specifications can jeopardize the equipment's efficiency, which can lead to mishaps. Workplace injuries can cost your business dearly. Employers frequently pay about $1 billion every week in direct workers' compensation claims alone, according to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA).
- Keep detailed records of your preventive maintenance and servicing.
The importance of recordkeeping in the preventive maintenance program cannot be overstated. You'll need to inspect everything from lubricants to electrical systems on the heavy machines. It's a time-consuming operation that necessitates a detailed record of each maintenance, including the date, time, service technical specifications, parts changed, and the next scheduled service. It can, however, aid in the development of specific maintenance programs, the processing of warranty claims for spare parts, and the preservation of accountability.
For small businesses, a spreadsheet to track inspections, repairs, and replacements is sufficient. Large firms, on the other hand, frequently require preventive maintenance software to keep track of their maintenance activities. All maintenance and service records must be kept in a handy location.
- Make the most of technology.
Utilize the most up-to-date technology to effectively maintain your heavy machinery. Start by storing checklists on smartphones and tablets to aid note-taking and provide a simple way for employees to seek guidance from one another. These gadgets also make it easier for employees to obtain information by providing a digital version of checklists and other papers on tablets or smartphones. Instead of looking for hard copies of important maintenance documentation, a worker can get the information they need at any time and from any location.
The transition from paper checklists and other papers to digital ones makes it much easier for employees to enter data and exchange it more quickly. A worker would have to write down their findings on a tangible checklist, hand it over to a relevant coworker or management, and wait for them to read it and take action. Workers can quickly share a digital checklist with others and receive feedback. A digital checklist is also much more difficult to misplace than a physical checklist.
How often should heavy equipment be serviced?
Heavy machinery care is important to every construction and business. They can be your most valuable tool, and if properly cared for, they can last thousands of kilometers. Your heavy equipment should come with an operator's manual that includes recommended service intervals, so read it carefully before making any judgments.
It's a good idea to keep a chart for your equipment so you can see when these intervals occur and plan beforehand. For example, you don't want to be forced to choose between pulling a piece of equipment off the job in the middle of a huge project and doing critical heavy equipment repairs that might have been done ahead of time.
You should also inspect your parts and evaluate how they are running on a regular basis. Take the time to get a machine serviced if you notice a portion or function isn't performing as well as it should. This will allow you to maximize your productivity. It's critical to have open lines of communication within your company to ensure that minor issues are reported as soon as they arise.
When it comes to heavy machine care, bear in mind that it is more cost-effective to be proactive about repair and service work rather than reactive. Small problems will most likely result in a less complicated and less expensive fix. It is less expensive to fix something sooner rather than later.