Make Preventative Maintenance A Priority To Avoid Equipment Downtime

Make Preventative Maintenance A Priority To Avoid Equipment Downtime

We don’t have to tell you how expensive equipment downtime can be – for your dealership or for your customers. If machines in your rental fleet are unavailable, you lose money. If a customer’s machine breaks down, they lose money. Your reputations are at stake as well as your bottom line. You need to make preventative maintenance a priority.

Diesel Engine Cooling System Maintenance The Basics & Tips from the ExpertsNo more excuses

We know. You’re busy. You have only so many opportunities to earn revenue, and taking equipment out of the lineup for any reason feels counter-productive. Machines that show no problematic symptoms don’t cry out for attention. Surely you can let things slide a little. You just need to finish this current job, and then you can service the machine. . .

Hopefully your lack of consistent preventative maintenance is due to “reasons” like these and not to an even more destructive philosophy that says, “work it till it drops.” Running a machine till it breaks down may keep you going in the near term, but you’ll pay significantly more down the road. Instead of a relatively small, inexpensive (and fast) repair or replacement, you’ll be replacing or rebuilding costly components. Or even an engine. It’s estimated that run-to-failure costs 3 to 5 times more than identifying and correcting problems early.

You need a preventative maintenance plan

And you need to stick to it. That’s the hard part, isn’t it? It’s just so easy to let the distractions of daily operations or other “priorities” get in the way. But establishing a comprehensive preventative maintenance program and mustering the discipline to inspect, monitor, and fix as scheduled will save untold headaches, frustration, and expense. You know Nike’s slogan: Just Do It.

Adding CBM to your program boosts early detection and saves money

construction equipment financingCondition-based maintenance (CBM) augments the other to-dos on your scheduled inspection and maintenance program by giving you a deeper look inside each machine. Other tasks are primarily visual – checking for damage, wear, leaks, etc. Implementing CBM will help you manage planned downtime better, and it gives you another tool to head off expensive component failures.

The “condition” in CBM relates to the fluids used within each piece of equipment. Things such as:

  • Fuel
  • Engine oils
  • Engine coolants
  • Transmission fluids
  • Differentials oils
  • Hydraulic system fluids

You’ve probably read about how fluid analysis can help detect problem earlier, and maybe you’ve even started using this additional early-warning tool. The best time to pull fluid samples for analysis is right before they’re changed – you’re looking for accumulation of particulates, viscosity, and other physical properties. So the easiest way to blend CBM into your regular preventative maintenance program is to link it scheduled fluid changes.

04242014_engine_icons-01Many equipment manufacturers now offer fluid sampling and analysis for the equipment they make. Some do the work themselves, and some use a third-party supplier. While this can facilitate your CBM efforts, it can become unwieldy when you’re running different makes of equipment – certainly the case for your dealership’s rental fleet, and likely true for your customers. It’s more efficient to work with a third-party oil analysis firm that can handle all your fluids.

Pick the right CBM partner

Normally, you can get fluid analysis results within a day or two. Condition may be identified as marginal, abnormal, or severe, which tells you if you need to take immediate corrective action or continue to monitor the machine more closely for now. The more diverse your fleet, the broader your supplier’s capabilities will need to be. They should be able to handle (at least):

  • Water, coolant, fuel, and oil analysis
  • Spectrochemical analyses used to detect contaminants
  • Viscosity analysis
  • Moisture analysis (parts per million)
  • Particle count analysis per ISO standards

Make Preventative Maintenance A Priority To Avoid Equipment Downtime-02For CBM to be of any value, it is essential to take samples properly and consistently. It takes specific training to do that. If you’re going to have an in-house tech do that rather than someone from a service company, you’ll need to create a sampling plan that covers:

  • Sampling schedule for each type of fluid (as noted earlier, this should match recommended fluid change intervals)
  • Number of sampling points
  • Location of sampling points

When you treat preventative maintenance as a top priority – no matter what – and augment it with condition-based maintenance, you’ll be doing everything you can to reduce equipment downtime and prolong each machine’s life. It may seem like a hassle at times, but in the long run you’ll save money and be able to make more money.

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