Heavy machinery is a valuable asset on modern worksites. The most useful items can reduce workloads, save time, and eliminate waste. However, treating your investments with care is essential to get the most out of them. Worn parts, leaky fluid, and improper storage can leave your machinery in dire straits.
Guiding a big project from planning to fruition is impossible if you don't take the time to care for your heavy equipment. Preventing your most valuable items from breaking down will enable you to stay on task and complete projects without incident. Use these seven tips to keep your heavy machinery in good shape.
1. Create a Checklist
Maintaining heavy equipment takes lots of work. It’s easy to forget essential steps or leave vital procedures for a later date if you don’t have a reliable plan. Creating a checklist will help you stick to a regular maintenance schedule and reduce wear on your equipment. Keeping up with preventative maintenance will allow you to monitor your assets and ensure they meet expectations during a project.
A checklist should account for your short- and long-term goals while giving workers a basic framework to follow when using the equipment. Start by brainstorming everything you'll need and then decide which order workers should complete them in. Prioritize tasks according to importance and remember to document any inconsistencies.
2. Read the Manual
Depending on your heavy machinery's manufacturer, it may require special attention to stay in good shape. Take note of oil viscosity, coolant type, and other common alterations to reduce potential mistakes. Checking the manual before doing any significant work will allow you to keep your equipment in good condition no matter what you use it for.
The operator's manual will have detailed instructions for safely running and maintaining the equipment. It’ll also outline basic safety procedures workers should remember when in or near the machinery. Instructing employees to use heavy equipment properly will extend its lifespan and reduce maintenance costs. Learning about the manufacturer's expectations will help you maximize the equipment’s performance and complete projects effectively.
3. Check Fluids
Heavy equipment requires various types of fluids to continue to run smoothly. Oil, coolant, and hydraulic fluid must be at optimal levels to prevent additional wear and tear on the components. Excess heat, loss of power, and other problems can occur if not attended to regularly. If fluids get too low, that could lead to catastrophic failure of the machinery, leaving you unable to complete work.
Low oil will cause internal engine parts to rub together, adding friction and potentially ruining the equipment. Coolant is necessary to prevent the engine from overheating. Hydraulic fluid fills actuating parts so that the equipment can complete complex tasks. Dealing with leaks or low levels as soon as possible will allow you to keep machinery in good shape.
4. Replace Broken Parts
Heavy machinery sees lots of action throughout the workday. Heavy vibrations, loose materials, and other types of wear can cause parts to break or fall off, affecting their performance and efficiency. Replacing the missing parts immediately will help you avoid damaging the equipment. However, you must find the right seller to avoid overpaying or getting faulty items.
Whether you're purchasing new or refurbished parts, you should always ensure they fit correctly before finalizing the sale. You can search online to find Caterpillar heavy machinery parts and components from other manufacturers. Do your research by looking at listings and consumer reviews to ensure you get the best deal possible.
5. Clean Regularly
On any worksite, heavy machinery will get pretty dirty over the course of operations. Sand, mud, and gravel pose hefty challenges that only the most reliable equipment can handle. Regular cleaning and maintenance will protect the engine and undercarriage, ensuring components don't break down prematurely.
The best practice is to use warm water to remove excess dirt and debris with warm water and soap. You can use a sponge or scrub brush to remove stuck-on materials. You can also remove grease with specialized solvents that work into the spot without affecting the machinery. Moreover, a pressure washer can provide extra power and help you get to hard-to-reach locations.
6. Store Properly
Leaving your heavy equipment exposed to the elements can cause additional issues you should avoid at all costs. Wind, snow, rain, and heat will quickly deteriorate any items exposed for long periods. Excess dirt and moisture can cause components to rust. Storing your equipment when not in use will ensure it's ready to go when necessary for a job.
First, ensure you adequately clean equipment and perform necessary maintenance before putting it in storage. Find a clean, climate-controlled location if possible. If not, a covered parking area or barn can suffice. These are much better than simply leaving it exposed. You can use protective covers to keep your heavy equipment out of foul weather if you have no other options.
7. Operate Safely
It doesn't matter how well you care for your heavy machinery if workers don't operate safely. Collisions and other accidents can damage the equipment, often requiring early maintenance and replacements. Dangerous incidents can get expensive and put workers at risk. The best solution is to teach employees to avoid hazards altogether.
Workers should always have a clear view of their surroundings while operating equipment. Individuals should wear high-vis clothing, helmets, and steel-toed boots whenever they operate in or near the vehicle. Operators should never leave the equipment running while they're not in the cab. Instead, they should wear their seatbelt and have a communication device like a walky-talky or radio.
Ensure Your Heavy Machinery Lasts
Heavy machinery can get expensive, especially if you have to constantly repair or replace items. A clear picture of what you should do to keep your equipment running will ensure you complete projects without running out of funds.
Keeping your heavy machinery in good shape can take effort, but it’ll pay off in the long run. With regular care, you can maximize productivity and reduce costs. Lower maintenance time, fewer hazards, and less wear will make life easier for you and your crew.