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How to Implement a Heavy Equipment Preventive Maintenance Plan

How to Implement a Heavy Equipment Preventive Maintenance Plan

February 27, 2020

Expensive construction equipment requires proper maintenance to work at peak efficiency. For many, they improperly assume this only means changing filters, fluids, and lubricating. However, preventive maintenance really involves much more. It means performing routine maintenance, cleaning, and inspections. This ensures that all equipment will work properly longer.

If you fail to perform even the manufacturer’s recommended regularly scheduled maintenance, you will only help to void your warranty. By keeping track of and adhering to the proper service schedule, you will keep your warranty intact and also save money on unnecessary breakdown repairs. This action will save your company money as breakdown maintenance is much more expensive than planned preventive maintenance. Additionally, you will no longer have the expenses that come with unforeseen shutdowns.

Overall, creating a preventive maintenance plan for your construction equipment has the following benefits:

  • Consumables tracking
  • Access to information needed to accurately size your fleet
  • Insight for employee training
  • Improved equipment reliability
  • Reduced breakdowns
  • Extended equipment lifespan
  • Improved resale value
  • Warranty protection
  • Savings on repairs

How to Create a Preventive Maintenance Plan

To create a quality preventive maintenance plan, you need to take the following three primary actions:

1. Obtain equipment service manuals

2. Identify the causes of previous breakdowns

3. Talk to equipment operators

1. Obtain Equipment Service Manuals

First, to create your heavy construction equipment preventive maintenance procedures you need to obtain the service manuals for all of your equipment. These manuals are indispensable reference material created by the creators and engineers most informed about the product through years of testing. These manuals provide you with information that will help you to keep your equipment at optimal operation and help with the creation of maintenance checklists.

To obtain service manuals for your equipment you need the make, model, and serial numbers of all of your equipment even similar models with different manufacture years. You can find the manuals on either the manufacturer website or an online manual store. If this lends no results contact the manufacturer’s customer service department.

2. Identify the Causes of Previous Breakdowns

The next step in making your preventive maintenance plan is to gather data surrounding previous breakdowns. This action will allow you to notice things like preventable damage to things, like torn excavator tracks due to improper maintenance. It will also allow you to modify the plan based on your distinctive needs. Finally, it will give you insight into the cost of making breakdown repairs which will help you to see the value of a cost-effective preventive maintenance plan.

Obtaining this information is as simple as going into your files and looking at old service records, work orders, and operator reports. If you cannot find this information contact your service technician as they should have copies. If you have all new equipment, this step can be skipped until reassessment.

3. Talk to Operators

The final step to implementing a heavy equipment preventive maintenance plan is talking with operators. Operators are a great resource because they have in-depth and intimate knowledge of the equipment, especially sophisticated ones like towable backhoes and cement mixers. If they are the ones performing pre and post-operation inspections they will also have data related to the daily use of your equipment.

To accomplish this you should interview your employees about their time with the equipment. Also, ask to see inspection reports. Another beneficial action is to create an open-door policy about equipment needs and issues to have the most up to date information regarding your equipment.

Key Features of a Preventive Maintenance Plan

The following are the seven key features of a construction equipment preventive maintenance plan:

1. Inspecting equipment
2. Cleaning equipment
3. Changing fluids and filters
4. Analyzing fluids
5. Training operators
6. Making and enacting checklists
7. Analyzing data

1. Inspecting Equipment

The regular inspection of equipment should be part of every preventive maintenance plan. Adding this step to your plan is key because it is part of the factory recommended maintenance and also because it helps to not only detect problems early on but also helps to give decision-makers a more complete history of the equipment.

2. Cleaning Equipment

Part of any proactive maintenance plan is the proper cleaning of equipment. By cleaning equipment on a regular basis you allow your staff the opportunity to notice things like oil leaks that can cause an engine to seize up. It also helps to reduce clogged filters that can cause power loss and excessive fuel consumption.

3. Changing Fluids and Filters

Making sure that you schedule and perform fluid and filter changes as part of your proactive maintenance plan is important. Should you neglect to add thing necessary step you run the risk of not noticing leaks earlier. In addition to noticing leaks sooner, regular changes of fluids and filters will improve the efficiency of the machine as well as its fuel consumption. Furthermore, it is part of the manufacturer’s recommendations that keep your warranty in effect.

4. Analyzing Fluids

As you perform your regularly scheduled maintenance, one of the action items should be fluid analysis. This action not only helps to develop a more complete service history but also helps to detect problems early. Analyzing fluids involves taking samples of a variety of fluids including transmission, diesel fuel, coolant, and hydraulic. The analysis of these various fluids allows you to see any signs of wear and contamination that may be present, giving ample ability to maximize protection and efficiency.

5. Training Operators

While it might not seem to be part of a preventive service plan, training your staff is an integral part of the process. Increasing the maintenance and equipment knowledge of your staff gives them the opportunity to improve the way they use the equipment. This improvement will help to reduce overworking and overloading equipment, reduce operator based malfunctions, and improve the efficiency of operator completed maintenance. It will also help them to identify problems earlier while they are doing inspections before and after use.

6. Making and Enacting Checklists

The next action item to any preventive maintenance plan is to make and enact your checklists. Many of the checklist items are found in either this list or the service manuals for your equipment. By making a checklist you can easily schedule tasks and ensure that they have been completed. By scheduling tasks on a regular basis, you give yourself the information necessary to bulk order stock items like replacement parts, fluids, and filters. Additionally, this action item will help you to capture more data about the service needs of your equipment which will help with the next process.

7. Analyzing Data

Finally, any effective preventive maintenance plan will include data analysis. Data analysis is important because it helps you to improve your preventive maintenance procedures. If you’ve noticed during the prior year that an excavator has needed multiple breakdown repairs, you can use the data you’ve gathered to help you decide to either modify scheduled service on the item or sell it off and purchase a new one. Moreover, you can use this data to improve your training program if these were easily avoidable user error created problems.

Enacting a preventive maintenance plan for your construction equipment can be a time-consuming task but if planned correctly, it can be extremely beneficial to your organization. A proactive maintenance plan will do many things to help your organization. It will improve productivity by introducing maintenance schedules that take into account production needs. It will also help to reduce expensive breakdown repairs while helping to increase the lifespan of equipment. By reducing breakdown maintenance costs and the use of consumables you will reduce your overall maintenance and improve profitability many times over.

About the Author

Warren Wu leads growth for UpKeep, a software company that helps businesses streamline their maintenance.