Make Sure To Do These Things To Be Ready To Use Your Compact Equipment In Winter | Part 2
In our previous blog post, we talked about the importance of properly preparing your rental fleet so you can make the most profitable use of compact equipment in winter. In this article, we’ll take a closer look at the machines likely to be in highest demand from customers this winter – skid steers and track loaders.
Trying to keep up with falling snow is a 24/7 job, so machine availability is crucial in winter. Whether your customers are taking on expanded jobs, snow is outpacing their permanent fleet or one of their machines goes down, they will turn to you for compact equipment rental. They’re depending on you to deliver winter-ready, reliable skid steers, track loaders and attachments.
Operators prefer skid steers and track loaders for winter work because of their versatility, and compact models offer better maneuverability. Gregg Warfel of Terex Construction Americas says a skid steer loader can move more snow in 8 hours than a truck can move in 20 hours.
But working long hours in freezing, harsh conditions is tough on machines. Proper winterization will protect your investment as well as your rental customers’ productivity.
Here’s what you should do.
Review your OEM’s owner’s manual winter operation specs. This is your first line of defense to ensure smooth, safe operation, because you need to know what’s best for your particular machine and model. Using the proper oils and fluids will protect your engine and other internal and external moving parts.
Starting equipment in excessive cold often requires a boost. For skid steers and track loaders, you can use block heaters, glow plugs, grid heaters or an ether-based starting fluid. Many operators prefer glow plugs, which do a better job heating the cylinders. Be sure the glow plug indicator has gone out before starting the engine.
Batteries work harder in winter, too. Conducting a pre-winter load test will show whether your battery can function fully when it’s needed most – for cold starts. If your battery is weak, replace it. If needed, maintain a trickle charge on it so it’s always ready to go. The shorter the distance between the battery and starter, the less power you’ll lose as it flows through the cable.
If your machine is equipped with a master electrical shut-off switch, that will prevent power draw-down when it’s is sitting idle.
Perform a pre-winter inspection on each skid steer and track loader, because it’s often the small things that turn into big problems. Make sure windshield wipers are working properly and the blades are in good condition – visibility is bad enough when it snowing heavily. Make sure all the lights are working properly, as well as the cab’s heating/defrost system.
Tires vs tracks
Tracks give loaders outstanding footing for pushing and turning, the essentials of snow removal. Machines are less likely to get stuck, and their lighter flotation makes them less likely to damage unseen landscaping under the snow. Of course, track loaders are more expensive to operate than skid steers. Track systems cost more than tires, and winter work causes greater wear and tear on undercarriage components. Remind customers to regularly clear the undercarriage of mud and ice, so the rollers don’t seize up. Consider whether it would be more cost-effective to switch to specialized winter tracks.
Tire pressure is critical for skid steer loaders in winter. It will drop as temperatures drop, so you must check and correct it or you’ll lose pushing ability as well as loading height. Narrower tires designed specifically for winter use can give you better traction and maneuverability.
Now is the time to remind your rental customers (and prospects) that your skid steers and track loaders stand ready to help this winter. Promoting your compact equipment in winter will help customers increase their bottom line, and it will boost your profitability, too.