Category Archives for "Heavy Equipment"

Reading the Market: How to Find the Right Time to Make Big-Ticket Purchases

landscaping-equipment market purchase

Big-ticket items such as cars or lawn equipment are major investments and if you purchase at the wrong time, you might end up paying much more than you expected. Factors such as time of year, hour of the day, upcoming holidays, what season you’re in, and other things can have a huge impact on whether the prices of these items go up or way, way down. If you buy at the wrong time, you could end up overpaying by hundreds – or even thousands – of dollars, depending on what item you’re looking for.

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Not to worry, though. Planning ahead when you’re ready to make an investment purchase can help you score some great deals on pricey products. Here are 5 tips to help you find the best times to buy your next big-ticket item.

1. Think ahead.

Prices for many items go up if they’re seasonal or if there’s an increased demand. If you want to buy lawn equipment, for instance, don’t wait until the lawn-mowing season to do it. The best time to buy new lawn equipment is at the end of summer or in the fall, when the weather gets colder and people are less likely to be out doing yard work. However, used lawn equipment can be found any time of year and can even be common during the spring as people are clearing out last year’s clutter.

The best method, in this case, is to plan what you’re going to buy in advance so you can purchase it when it makes the most sense. If you know you’re going to need a new lawnmower next summer and can afford to wait a while, make a note to check back on prices when the demand is lowest. If you need one as soon as possible, know that you might have a better chance only looking at used items.

2. Know when new products are coming out.

Retailers tend to push out new products in cycles. If you know when the newest items will hit the shelves, you can plan on older overstocked items or retiring models hitting the secondhand market. Different industries have different cycles, but many push out new products around a big event such as an auto show or a shift in season. Automobiles are especially prone to price fluctuations depending on when new models come out.

If you’re looking to buy new, the best time to buy is usually at the end of the model year or during a holiday weekend sale. Events such as Black Friday can come with steep price cuts if you’re willing to wake up early to shop. Check back frequently around the time the model year ends: a retailer might have a discount on a specific item even outside of store-wide sales.

Store closings are another great chance to find bargains on big-ticket items. Check your local paper for any shops that might be closing or search online for closeout sales in your area.

3. Keep a consistent eye on the market.

If you know the type of product you’re looking for will be snatched up quickly, it pays to check the market frequently to see when one comes up for sale. Whether you’re buying new or used, some retailers allow you to set up email alerts when something you’re searching for pops up. If you don’t have access to a service like this, make it a point to check back throughout the day or week so you don’t miss a good deal.

Again, if you need the product quickly, be prepared to pay a little more or settle for a used item rather than waiting for a better deal that might not come any time soon. It’s better to have the equipment you need when you need it rather than to hold out for a perfect price.

4. Know the going rate for what you’re looking for.

Doing some research on different models beforehand will save you time and money in the long run. Know approximately how much you’re willing to pay for an item in advance: it will give you the ability to act quickly when it comes up for sale.

Look at both new and used prices to get a good idea of both ends of the spectrum. What seems like a good price and what’s way too much? Once you have a ballpark figure of what you can expect to reasonably pay, you can easily identify good deals and snap them up quickly.

Be wary of deals that seem too good to be true. Big-ticket items rarely come cheap unless there’s some sort of defect. It’s okay to ask the seller questions about why a price is unusually low but in general, steer clear of anything that looks suspicious.

5. Browse when others aren’t looking.

Time of day matters. Deals are less likely to be snatched up late at night. Checking the market during off-hours will give you an edge when the item you’re looking for comes up. Many secondhand sellers will post listings during the day when they’re awake and it’s convenient for them, but that’s also when many other people will be browsing. It’s a good idea to check at different hours of the day to determine the best times for what you’re looking for.

Knowing the time zones of the sellers you’re following can also give you an advantage here. This can apply to either new or used retailers: if a website has announced an upcoming sale, knowing where they’re based allows you to check out the deals the moment they start.

While it’s exciting to make a new purchase and you might be tempted to snap up the first deal you see, a little patience goes a long way. Doing some research into pricing and sales before you buy can save you a lot of money and score you a better item.

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Compacts: Small Enough to Get the Job Done

compact equipment

Let’s give a shout-out to two brothers, Louis and Cyril Keller. If those names mean nothing to you, how about this one: Bobcat. That’s right, the Kellers were single-handedly responsible for reversing the bigger-is-better mantra of the heavy equipment industry by inventing, developing and popularizing a small loader that we all know today as a skid steer. The machine started a downsizing revolution that continues to sweep the heavy equipment industry.

It has been 60 years since Eddie Velo, a Minnesota turkey grower, approached the blacksmithing Keller brothers with the request that they build a mobile loader compact enough to scoop up manure on the second floor of his barn. Six weeks later, the brothers delivered a machine they called a “Keller Self-Propelled Loader.” The rest is history: Melroe Manufacturing Co. began to build a modified version of the new machine and aptly renamed it. A couple of years ago, the one millionth “Bobcat” rolled off the assembly line.

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Today, the switch to compact machinery continues to gain momentum. Besides the original skid steers—which indeed are steered by skidding the tires instead of changing their direction—the lineup includes track loaders (skid steers on tracks), and compact versions of wheel loaders, wheel and track excavators, telehandlers, and utility vehicles. The technology in the machines has bled over into the ag market where compact tractors can do things your grandfather only dreamed about doing with his little Ford 4N.

So why are the smaller machines so darned popular? Because they essentially are more economical to operate and more versatile than their full-sized counterparts. Yet that understates the difference. Compacts have, in effect, ushered in revolutionary thinking about how to approach a job and most-efficiently complete it.

 

Read more at ConstructionEquipmentGuide.com about why the revolution is expected to roll on.

 

10 Ways to Implement an Ironclad Safety Response Plan

safety response plan

So many things can go wrong at work. Spills, fires, natural disasters — these are just some of the most common hazards employees face every day. Without a safety response plan in place, protecting against those hazards can be tough.

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That said, a safety response plan should be written carefully. It should also address most threats to worker safety while being flexible enough to account for unforeseen hazards at the same time. With that in mind, here’s how to put together a safety response plan and what information to include in it.

1. Brainstorm all possible safety hazards.

What are the worst-case scenarios in your workplace? For example, if you work in the construction industry, you have to protect against falls, getting caught between objects, getting struck by objects, and electrocution. If you’ve already accounted for the most common hazards, consider other possible dangers at work.

Comb through previous safety reports. Ask employees about what makes them uneasy at work. Research how other companies have successfully dealt with safety hazards like the ones in your workplace. The more hazards you can account for, the better your response plan will be.

2. Determine the scope of your plan.

At the same time, there should be a limit to what the safety response plan covers. Otherwise, the plan will never be finished and if it is, it might not be as focused as you’d like.

Think about whether the plan applies to day-to-day operations or to specific scenarios, or both. In construction, for example, emergency action plans are usually drawn up per project. You can write a more comprehensive plan if you like, but that’s up to you.

3. Come up with general emergency response procedures.

Of course, different safety hazards call for different measures, which should also be factored into your safety response plan. But in general, employees should remember the following when handling emergencies:

 

  • Stay calm. A relaxed mind is a clear mind.
  • Size up the situation. Is it a “real” emergency that needs special attention or a minor one that can be resolved without outside help?
  • Take charge. Given the current situation, what are the next steps to take? Ideally, the most senior employee on the scene should make the first move.
  • Offer protection. How can the emergency victim avoid further harm or injury?
  • Aid and manage. How else can you help the victim?
  • Maintain contacts. Always keep emergency numbers on speed dial.
  • Guide emergency services. Once the people in charge of emergencies are on the field, bring them to the victim ASAP.

If there’s more than one type of emergency at any one time (e.g. oil spills that lead to fires), outline which one to address first in your plan. Consult with experts on how to handle multiple related emergencies. Use your best judgment on a case-by-case basis.

4. Establish a clear chain of command.

To whom should employees report an emergency? At least one person should be responsible for coordinating efforts to handle a crisis. In case that person happens to be unavailable, employees should have a backup contact to turn to. And if that backup is unavailable as well, employees should have another backup, and so on and so forth.

At the very least, employees should know the following about their emergency contacts:

  • Name
  • Work address
  • Contact number
  • Title
  • Department

5. Set up an emergency alert system.

You can only alert so many employees by word of mouth. To make sure everyone is warned as soon as an emergency happens, set up alarms that comply with OSHA standards set under Section 1910.165.


Don’t forget to account for employees with disabilities or employees who won’t be able to respond as soon as the alarms sound. Set up tactile alarm systems for them or come up with other ways to alert them that don’t involve audio or visual cues.  

6. Make sure all personnel are accounted for when emergencies happen.

Where emergencies take place, confusion follows. Once the chaos settles down, do a headcount of all employees. This way, it’ll be easier to determine whether the emergency is an isolated incident or if there are other workers who need help.

7. Plan rescue and medical operations.

Train employees on basic first-aid and equip them with the necessary supplies. Put first-aid kits in places that are safely and easily accessible during an emergency. Make sure workers know where the kits are and what procedures they need to follow to access the kits, if any.

Keep in mind that even with training, you can only give so much help to emergency victims. It’s better to leave the more complicated rescue and medical operations to those who have the training, equipment, and certification to administer them. Be clear about who does what in your safety response plan.

8. Equip workers with the tools to deal with emergencies.

Aside from first-aid kits, employees should have the equipment to avoid emergencies from the start. In construction, for instance, workers are required to wear hard hats, safety goggles, and other special equipment to lessen the chances of injury and accidents.

Also, employees should know where to go in case of emergencies. They should know where fire exits are, what routes to take towards them, and any alternate routes if they exist. The more they know about these, the easier it’ll be for them to do the right thing when it counts.

9. Train employees to deal with emergencies.

Once the safety response plan is finalized, let employees know as soon as possible. Set aside a regular period to brief them on safety response procedures. Re-train them whenever the procedures are revised or a new employee arrives. Reward those who go out of their way to know the procedures inside and out.

10. Have your plan reviewed by a third party.

After wrapping up the draft of the safety response plan, have it looked at by reliable third parties. Check whether the plan complies with existing rules and regulations. Consult companies that deal with safety protocols in your industry.

 

With these tips, putting together a safety response plan shouldn’t be a problem. The more prepared you are, the safer your workers (and you) will be.

 

 

Dakota Safety specializes in providing passive fall protection systems and safety products for clients all across America. They are based in Saint Paul, Minnesota. If you have questions about safety in your facility? Give Dakota Safety a call today.  

 

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Section 179 Tax Code: Cash In Before This Year’s End

save business taxes

Every business owner knows the many challenges that come with running a successful company. Organizations that are small and independent have to juggle an array of costs associated with doing business.

If you own a small business, you’ve probably had to deal with the problem of the increasing cost of supplies and raw materials as market conditions fluctuate. Energy costs have risen in many parts of the country and higher wage requirements have put a strain on small businesses. It’s also necessary at some point to invest in new equipment for upgrades and expansion.     

There are a few ways to manage the high cost of essential machinery and tools for your line of work. One easy and popular method to help increase your bottom line comes with tallying your tax bill each year. While you’ll still have to calculate your yearly corporate taxes every April, you can relieve some of the burden by itemizing your business expenses.

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Another way you can specifically lower your business’s tax bill is by using the Section 179 form when you file your annual taxes. Section 179 offers small business owners a way to save money, sometimes in consecutive tax years, on pricey items by allowing them to deduct the full cost of equipment and other business purchases. This way, you don’t have to go with the typical deduction for business purchases involving depreciation and capitalization reporting.

Here are some other things to know about Section 179 before you compile your tax forms for this year.

Does Your Business Qualify?

The first thing to figure out with this deduction is whether or not your business is eligible to use it. If you operate a small business, chances are you qualify. Additionally, any equipment you want to claim on your tax form for the year must not add up to more than $2 million. Both new and used equipment purchases for your operation can be added to a Section 179 deduction.

It is, however, required that your equipment is used for at least 50% of its lifespan for business purposes. So, if you are trying to deduct the cost of your vehicle, it must primarily be a company or fleet vehicle instead of a personal one.

What Kinds of Costs Can Be Deducted?

Any business equipment that you purchased and started using during the calendar year for which you are filing your taxes can be claimed as part of this specific deduction. Some examples of items used for the Section 179 deduction include:

  • Office furniture
  • Equipment
  • Machinery
  • Vehicles
  • Computer hardware
  • Computer software

Some other types of items you purchase for your business can sometimes be used for the Section 179 deduction, depending on the specifics and your usage. For example, real property can be eligible if it’s a restaurant, retail or another qualifying business. Heating and air conditioning unit purchases may also be eligible if they are portable or primarily for a business property.

There are certain types of equipment that are never eligible for receiving this deduction. Paved areas or parking lots cannot be deducted with this form. Items located outside of the United States are not eligible and gifted or inherited items or property cannot be claimed.

What Are the Limits?

Over the past few years, Congress has consistently passed tax relief and stimulus bills to keep these limits attractive to business owners. Though, like most types of deductions used in corporate expensing for tax purposes, there are some limits to the Section 179 form. At the time of this publication, you can deduct up to $500,000 for your annual purchases. As previously mentioned, equipment purchases must not add up to more than $2 million.

Equipment purchases should be kept separate from other business expenses. When you separate your costs, you may be able to take advantage of additional savings by deducting the equipment’s depreciation value in the tax years after your initial purchase. This means you can continue to recoup some of the cost of your investment.

How Can You Use This Deduction This Year?

If you want to get in on the tax relief that thousands of small business owners have already taken advantage of, elect to take this deduction when you file your end-of-year taxes.

First, you’ll need to fill out the top part of form 4562. Use this form along with your regular tax filing forms.

It may be wise to get help preparing your business taxes if you’re not sure what needs to be done. You’ll also be better prepared for a potential audit if you seek some tax assistance. Of course, you can try purchasing business tax software to make your filing woes less expensive and easier to manage. But if you have a lot of complex situations and need more advice, try hiring a professional accountant.

Section 179 Deduction Benefits You

While it may seem complex and time-consuming to review your business spending and to check to see if you qualify for this deduction, the end result could greatly help your business’s financial state.

For one thing, using the Section 179 deduction can help you manage the cost of buying new or used equipment. This gives you an incentive to go forward with investing in upgrades and developing your business.

As the year is drawing to a close, don’t forget to take a look at your business’s annual spending to see if there are any opportunities to get some of your investment back. By designating these purchases as expenses, you may be able to help keep up with some of the rising costs of running your company. Remember, you can also claim depreciation on many of these costs, making it an even better idea to elect to take the Section 179 deduction.

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Personal Safety Equipment: What’s “Overkill” and What’s Non-Negotiable?

personal safety equipment

Many jobs across multiple industries require the use of personal safety equipment. Safety is always a good idea, but there are occasions when specialized safety gear is not only suggested, it’s a must.

It’s important to use the right type of equipment for each task or situation. Completing a job without proper personal safety protection or not enough precautions may lead to dangerous incidents. On the other hand, if too much protection is applied, it could lead to unsafe conditions as well.

Instead of going with the one-size-fits-all approach regarding your personal safety equipment, you must follow specific guidelines for each possible hazard and consider the area of the body that needs protection during a given job.

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Here are some factors to consider when determining whether your personal safety equipment is too much, too little, or just right.

Head Safety

One of the most vulnerable spots on a person’s body is their head. A head injury can be catastrophic. Head protection keeps a worker safe from falling objects, hazards they could bump into, and electrical shocks.  

The most common type of head protection is a hard hat. There are several different varieties of hard hats that vary from industry to industry and that depend on the line of work being completed. Instead of choosing the largest and heaviest hat by default, make sure your company takes time to identify the most appropriate headwear for employees on the job.  

Ear Protection

Ear protection is also part of a safe work setting. If your workplace exposes employees to high levels of noise, it may be necessary to equip them with protective headgear for their hearing.

There are two main types of ear protection: ear plugs and earmuffs. Ear plugs can be either disposable or a customized reusable variety. For jobs that require tasks with heavy machinery or other noisy tools, ear plugs may be appropriate. Alternatively, extended and heavy-duty ear protection may require earmuffs.

It is important to understand that employees who use heavy-duty hearing protection may not be able to hear much of anything at all. Ensure that your company is using the right amount of equipment for the job. Too much ear protection can make an employee less aware of his or her surroundings, which could lead to entirely new safety issues.  

Protective Glasses and Masks

Eye protection is another key component of personal safety equipment. Many companies utilize masks, darkened safety glasses, or protective goggles to help maintain a safe work space. Eye protection can help safeguard against debris or dust and can prevent eyes from being damaged by various types of lights or heat that may be used in your facility.   

While a large face mask may seem like the perfect way to protect eyes in almost any type of situation, they’re only appropriate for certain hazards. It’s best to go with OSHA’s recommendations for your industry so you can be sure your employees are able to complete their work safely and without losing their ability to properly see during their shift.  

Hand Protection

Industrial environments that require employees to work with or near hot or hazardous materials using their hands usually require the employer to provide protective safety gloves. This type of protection may range from heavy-duty thermal gloves to thin, disposable latex gloves.

It’s essential to match your line of work with the right type of glove. If you go with something that is thick and bulky, be sure your workers will be able to complete their job tasks without causing additional problems from possible mishandling of materials. On the other hand, choosing the thinnest type of glove protection possible may not be enough to keep your workers’ hands safe from dangerous substances.

Protective Shoes

Many industrial settings are dangerous for workers who aren’t wearing proper footwear. Some companies may need to provide their employees with specialized footwear protection, while others may benefit from insisting on simple toe guard boots that keep toes from being injured if something heavy falls on a worker’s foot. Some industries may benefit from requiring special shoes that prevent electricity buildup and spark creation.

If your organization wants to ensure your environment is as safe as possible, choose the shoe that fits your type of work. With all the different options out there, it can get confusing knowing which type of footwear works best with your workplace’s hazards. If you choose the biggest and heaviest steel-toed shoe, that may not be the best thing for your specific line of work. Putting too much protection on your employees’ feet could lead to more trips and falls around your facility or worksite.  

Whole Body Protection

Some lines of work require special whole-body protection. If there are possible hazards to the skin within the working environment, a worker must wear protective suiting. This suiting must provide protection while also maintaining enough air circulation so the employee can breathe and move comfortably.

There are 4 basic types of body protection suits a worker can wear in a toxic environment: disposable paper suits, leather protective suits, plastic gear, and neoprene protection suits. You must understand the various factors affecting your workplace when choosing the right suit, such as facility temperature, toxicity of substances, the purpose of the work, and the specific way your employee will be moving around during the procedures.

Choosing a suit that goes beyond your safety requirements could put an employee in danger. For example, picking a heavy leather suit when only a disposable suit is required could put an employee at risk of overheating. It’s best to carefully evaluate your employees’ working conditions and industry safety regulations before committing to any specific equipment.  

 

If you’re not sure where to start when choosing the proper type of personal safety equipment, assess your workplace’s hazard risks first. Once you understand the true dangers to your workers, you can then begin to outfit them in the right gear to help them do their jobs safely.

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The Ultimate Insurance Checklist for Your Heavy Equipment

heavy equipment insurance

If your business relies on the use of heavy construction equipment such as bulldozers, lift trucks, cranes, and front loaders, you are exposed to a significant amount of risks associated with the operation of these giant machines.

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To save yourself from potential machinery breakdowns that can lead to negative impacts or a halt your workflow, it’s crucial to make sure your heavy equipment is insured. Here’s a list of important factors you should know when getting insurance coverage for your construction equipment.

1. Equipment Breakdown Insurance

Disasters are unpredictable and can happen at moments when we think we are extremely well-prepared. When a critical accident takes place and causes a standstill, it adversely affects your business, leading to low productivity and unwanted costs toward repairs and replacement of the broken machinery.

That being said, it’s a good idea to get equipment breakdown insurance (also known as “boiler and machinery” insurance) since it covers exposures that are usually excluded in other property insurance policies. This coverage protects construction companies from sudden, unforeseen damages and common setbacks, including explosions, malfunctions, and breakdowns caused by fires, storms, and other natural disasters.

Equipment breakdown insurance covers a wide range of equipment types, such as electrical equipment, air conditioning systems, computers and telephones, hot water boilers, sterilizers, generators, motors and pumps, and ventilation systems. Depending on whether or not an insured item is repairable, the basis of compensation can be either partial or total. It’s best to contact your insurance agency to find out which of your heavy equipment qualifies for machinery  breakdown insurance.

2. Additional Coverage

A thorough risk management process does not stop at getting basic equipment breakdown insurance. Keep in mind that this coverage only takes care of the costs associated with repairing and replacing the impaired machine. You also need to think about other indirect damages and interruptions that can (and very often) spring up because of the broken equipment.

Here are some additional coverages that you might want to consider adding to your equipment breakdown policy.

  • Business Interruption: Loss of income and increased expenses might be even greater than the direct damage caused by broken equipment. As a result, if your business operation is suspended due to a breakdown, this additional coverage can protect your company against loss of income and continuing expenses.
  • Spoilage: Designed specifically for food processing companies, this coverage provides protection against loss or expenses due to spoilage resulting from an accident.
  • Contingent Time Element: This coverage offers indemnity for loss to your customers or suppliers as a consequence of equipment breakdown.
  • Rental Reimbursement: This covers the cost of renting a replacement until the damaged machine is fixed or you’ve acquired a new one.
  • Sub-limited Coverage: Depending on particular business needs, there are coverages designed for specific sub-limits, such as hazardous substances, water damage, medical supplies, data restoration, ammonia contamination, and so on.   

3. Leasing Your Equipment to Other Businesses

If you are leasing your heavy equipment, it is still important to get insurance – even if you are not responsible for repairing the leased equipment. Bear in mind that while many policies cover equipment that you own or loan to others, they may not cover your equipment while being loaned to others. Contact your insurance agency to make sure your policy is reviewed thoroughly before leasing your equipment to other businesses.

Contingent and excess liability insurance is a common coverage policy that protects the lessor’s interest. This coverage typically applies when the lessee’s policy is being denied or if the lessee is underinsured. For example, if the lessee is involved in an accident and they fail to maintain adequate insurance required by the lease agreement, this coverage can protect the lessor.  

In case the lessee’s insurance does not cover the leased equipment, it’s a good idea to get asset insurance. Under this coverage, the borrower is offered a convenient option to meet the insurance requirement of the lease. As a result, your business will be able to pass the cost of insurance to the lessee, which helps you prevent vicarious liability claims for accidents caused by the use of leased machinery.   

4. Utilizing Rental Equipment

On the other hand, if your business relies on leased equipment to operate (you are renting heavy machinery from someone else), you can be held liable for damage to the equipment. Many machinery lenders do not have coverage under their own contractors’ equipment policy. Furthermore, even if your equipment lessor is responsible for fixing machinery that’s down, you won’t get compensated for lost revenue resulting from business interruptions and indirect damages. In this case, you need to go the extra mile to get your own rental equipment coverage as it helps your business cover the loss during unexpected shutdowns.

It’s important to review your contract thoroughly when renting heavy equipment. Depending on your state, there will be different regulations applied. Likewise, rental equipment insurance policies vary widely due to the type of machinery and risk involved. Some rental businesses may ask that you purchase a policy on the equipment to cover its use.

Consult your insurance agency to explore different heavy equipment insurance options that can ensure your legal responsibility is well covered. They can also call the leasing company and speak to their insurance people on your behalf to find out more details regarding their policy.   

 

It might seem overwhelming to find the right insurance for your heavy equipment. Depending on your particular situation and needs, there are different rules to follow.

With that said, getting coverage for your construction machinery is vital to the risk management process of your company. Direct and indirect losses from equipment shutdowns can be detrimental to your bottom line, causing delays in your project’s timeline and making your productivity suffer. It’s highly recommended that you seek professional help to discuss the proper coverage for your heavy equipment and better manage your risks.

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How to Comply with OSHA’s Updated Regulations

OSHA updated regulations

Managing employees involves more than simply setting schedules or approving vacation days. Ensuring the safety and security of workers is a large portion of the job, specifically in dangerous professions such as construction, logging, and commercial fishing. To keep everyone safe, employers look to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) for life-saving guidelines.

This past year, over 70 new rules, pre-rules, or final rules have been instated and rigidly upheld by OSHA. Employers are expected to stay “on top” of the ongoing changes in the realm of workplace safety and keep their employees informed at all times.

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Complying with OSHA standards is largely up to the employer. In fact, OSHA gives employees certain rights to take action and ensure their workplace is safe. For example, workers may file complaints regarding unsafe working conditions or refuse to work when they face imminent danger in the workplace. The worker’s employer cannot retaliate based on these disputes and such complaints are directly addressed by OSHA. To avoid these issues, employers must take it upon themselves to know the guidelines and follow them.

Below, we’ve summarized 5 important points to help maintain a consistent schedule of staying informed and keeping employees safe in your facility.

1. Be Consistently Knowledgeable

This is the most obvious foundation for understanding and adhering to the new OSHA directives. However, successfully meeting these regulation changes is an extensive and rigorous process for many companies.

The age of the internet makes this kind of information very accessible – so much so that there is no real reason why companies should not be fully updated at all times. The OSHA website is the best (and easiest) place to stay informed and up-to-date on the latest regulations and provides a slew of guidance and documentation on how to efficiently implement these rules in the workplace.

2. Designate a Role

It may be worth considering adding a full-time position (or a part-time position for smaller companies) to successfully enforce these regulations at a worksite. Some larger organizations have a safety professional on staff who is solely responsible for conducting all safety audits, maintaining a safety plan, and providing updated trainings for employees. In smaller companies, these duties typically fall on the facilities manager or an employee in Human Resources.

Hiring a dedicated safety professional is both effective and productive, and also provides a sense of security throughout the company. Choosing shortcuts by assigning safety duties among several employees can create chaos and leaves a large margin for error. Given the harsh penalties and the rigidity of OSHA’s rules, it’s best not to gamble.

3. Worksite Analysis

Whether or not an organization hires a safety professional, there must be regular inspections of equipment, work spaces and ergonomics, chemical exposures, overall processes, and employee conduct. This is the only way an employer can improve upon safety issues and develop an enhanced system of operations.

Once worksite hazards have been identified, the next step is getting them under control. Injury preventative plans may include tasks such as maintaining equipment; ensuring employees know how to use and maintain personal protective equipment; confirming all employees understand and follow safe work procedures; and investing in a facility-specific medical program to help prevent workplace hazards and exposures.

Safety inspections are not limited to large organizations; even small businesses must comply with OSHA safety standards. Since smaller business owners may not be as familiar with OSHA regulations or may have a different level of standards according to their size, there are various voluntary compliance programs available to assist. The OSHA Consultation Service helps small employers identify potential hazards and how to improve their occupational safety and health management. The service also offers third party training and education for employees.

4. Staff Trainings

Safety trainings should occur regularly, even without changes to OSHA regulations. For example, after a safety audit of all processes is conducted, a training or some kind of follow-up meeting should be held to review any significant issues that were uncovered.

If there are no safety professionals appointed, employers don’t need to worry about bringing in an OSHA representative or hiring an outside source to conduct the training sessions. OSHA provides guidance in their documentation and resources to help employers educate their workers.

5. Recordkeeping

Keeping a log of all accidents that occur in the workplace is now an official OSHA final rule. By upholding this requirement, not only are regulations being met, but a track record of safety improvements (or lack thereof) is made. This information is invaluable when creating a new safety plan.

According to the final rule for recordkeeping:

1. All establishments with 250 or more employees in industries covered by the recordkeeping regulation must submit their injury and illness data to OSHA annually.

2. Establishments with 20-249 employees in certain so-called “high hazard industries” must submit information from their 300A Annual Summaries each year.

3. All submissions to OSHA must be made electronically via a secure internet connection.

4. OSHA will then publish the data online.

The goal of this rule is to keep organizations accountable and prompt them to uphold their image, similar to the publication of restaurant health inspection results. Keeping accurate records of work-related accidents or illnesses not only complies with regulations, but also benefits employers and their companies.

 

It may seem like an inconvenience to some workers to spend a portion of their day focusing on safety measures. Perhaps the most important thing an organization can do is assist workers in adapting to the changes in regulations and safety processes. Successful employers will lead a newly-updated safety plan without creating an extra burden for employees.

Regardless of how well employees adhere to the proper safety measures set in place, it is still the responsibility of the employer to keep the plan consistent and keep employees up-to-date. Good communication is essential for successful safety plan implementation. Without consistent and clear communication among coworkers, managers, and other staff, meeting OSHA regulations is not the only thing that is at risk for failure.

For a list of regulations for specific industries, visit the OSHA website.

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7 Tips for Keeping Your Heavy Equipment in Tip-Top Shape

heavy equipment care

In many senses, heavy equipment can be thought of as the backbone of industries like construction, mining, logging, agriculture, and more. Without heavy-duty equipment like bulldozers, forklifts, and backhoes, workers in these industries likely wouldn’t be able to complete their jobs (or, at a minimum, would need drastically more hours and manpower to complete projects of the same scale).

While these types of machines are extremely powerful and robust, they’re still susceptible to wear and tear, breakdowns, and external and internal damage. Due to the size and complexity of heavy equipment, repairing even minor damage can come with a high price tag.

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Fortunately, you can minimize costly equipment repairs by staying ahead of the game and taking these 7 preventative measures to keep your heavy equipment in tip-top shape.

1. Make time for regular cleanings.

One of the simplest solutions for taking care of your heavy equipment also happens to be one of the most important: keep your equipment squeaky clean!

Natural substances that your equipment may be regularly exposed to such as mud, dirt, and dust can clog filters and vents, as well as damage any electrical components. Additionally, these elements can speed up processes like rusting and contribute to general wearing down of heavy equipment over time. Set a schedule for pressure washing your equipment to remove hardened mud and grease buildup; create a separate schedule for additional cleaning procedures like replacing filters and cleaning your engine.

Cleaning your heavy equipment regularly is a quick, easy, and cost-effective solution, but one that is all too often overlooked.

2. Proactively protect electronics and wires.

Speaking of damage caused by dust, water, and other elements, it’s important to pay special attention to any electrical components in your equipment, including wires and circuits that are normally covered. Be sure they are sufficiently protected from water, snow, dust, and other environmental conditions that could potentially shorten their lifespan.

It’s also good to keep an eye on how your heavy equipment’s starter, alternator, and other key electrical parts are performing. When it comes to parts like these, it’s often more expensive to replace the damage that has already been done than it would have been to prevent it.

3. Stick to a steady lubrication schedule.

Lubricants can play a big role in helping to extend machinery lifespans. There are a lot of moving parts in heavy equipment and lubricants can help to reduce friction, minimize wear-and-tear, and keep things running smoothly in an operational sense. Lubricants are also key to keeping important interior parts clean, since they can reduce soot buildup and form seals that keep out contaminants.

However, remember that not all lubricants are the same! It’s important to use the correct lubricants based on the manufacturer’s recommendations, as using the wrong kind could potentially be its own source of damage for your machinery.

4. Check your tires often.

A tire blowout or broken axle is often more of a pain to repair than it is to prevent in the first place (and in some cases, repairing them can be more expensive, too).

Stop tire damage in its tracks (sorry, we couldn’t help ourselves!) by keeping an eye on your tires’ general condition, especially before, during, and after using them in gravel, thick mud, or other particularly rough conditions. Remember that worn-down treads – while not necessarily considered “damaged” – can be a dangerous and serious problem, too.

5. Invest in trustworthy storage.

We can’t stress this one enough. It’s so important to store heavy equipment in an area that offers protection from extreme heat and cold, direct sunlight, rust, corrosion, and other environmental elements.

It’s one thing to incur some wear-and-tear when your equipment is actually in use, but you definitely shouldn’t be letting it take on any damage when it’s just sitting there. The best part about this tip is that it’s one-and-done: after you’ve secured your storage space, all you have to do is remember to put your equipment away each day. It’s a simple yet effective solution.

6. Know your equipment’s limits.

Remember that manufacturer’s manual that was included when you first purchased your heavy equipment? It may be time to dust it off and give it a quick read-through.

It’s crucial to understand your equipment’s recommended weight load limits and to stay well within those boundaries. Overuse is another harmful problem that can lead to your equipment’s engine becoming overheated and in some cases, can cause a series of functional damage.

Likewise, try to limit your equipment’s use in potentially damaging conditions like extreme heat, cold, ice, snow, and rain. Not only is this smart from a safety perspective, but it can also help extend your equipment’s lifespan.

7. Keep highly detailed records.

Make record-keeping a regular part of your equipment care routine, even before you start to experience any operational issues. Schedule frequent maintenance check-ups and record the results of those check-ups in a spreadsheet with dates and specific notes on how your equipment is performing. These records can often prove to be extremely useful when equipment begins underperforming as it provides a clear and concise picture of when, where, and even why the problem first started.

Similarly, be sure to keep track of any repairs that take place so you can construct a timeline of how frequently the equipment receives repairs, if any of the repairs are for recurring problems, and if those repairs are living up to their promised warranties. This type of information can help shed some light on any common causes of damage or underlying faulty parts which you can then take steps to correct

 

Purchasing heavy equipment is a big investment, and as with all investments, you’ll want to make sure that you receive your highest ROI possible by extending your equipment’s working lifespan to its maximum limit. The good news? All it really takes to keep your heavy equipment running smoothly is a keen eye for detail and willingness to stick to a schedule.

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The “M” Word: Best Practices for Regularly-Scheduled Equipment Maintenance

 

heavy equipment maintenance

The true workhorse of any modern manufacturing plant is the equipment. Manufacturers around the world know that consistent, high-quality maintenance is crucial in keeping equipment in optimal condition, minimizing downtime, and eventually, cutting costs and improving production.

Nevertheless, in reality, many manufacturers are still conducting up to 90% of maintenance tasks from a reactive basis rather than a proactive standpoint. Amongst all, they often blame it on the age of the equipment; the shortage of important, expensive spare parts; and the fast pace of manufacturing.

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Instead of making excuses, it’s time for equipment owners to step up and start applying periodic, proactive measures in their care and upkeep applications. Here are some of the best maintenance practices to help your organization achieve operational efficiency.

1. Implement a proper preventive maintenance program.

Preventive maintenance consists of actions performed after a period of time or after a certain level of production. This helps your business detect, prevent, or minimize degradation of components and replace them at the first signs of wear. It also allows you to decrease the number of failures and extend the life of the equipment. In return, this translates into dollar savings. Think of the reasons we take our personal vehicles in for regular tune-ups, oil changes, and all-around maintenance checks.

According to a report sponsored by the United States Department of Energy, Office of Federal Energy Management Programs, studies have shown that adopting preventive approaches can save businesses approximately 12-18% of costs over that of reactive maintenance programs (implementing maintenance practices or scheduling maintenance after incidents of equipment failure or other occurrences).

2. Keep operator training up-to-date.

Even though operator training is essential as soon as a piece of machinery is acquired, it’s equally important to stay on top of training. Employees come and go. Even the most veteran operators are not excluded from making mistakes. As skills become rusty, make sure to revise operator manuals for specific work situations and always use the most current version of each manual.

3. Conduct periodic inspections.

Even if you’ve got a preventive maintenance program in place, it’s highly recommended to add periodic inspections to your to-do list. Over time, many key components will age – you might want to replace some gears, belts, wires, and cables with higher quality and more reliable counterparts. Regular inspection enables you to check for signs of wear, keep the equipment in peak condition, and quickly conduct the necessary replacement of any worn parts.

Taking things a step further, try to conduct preventive maintenance inspections in conjunction with a corrective maintenance approach, which involves repairs or replacement of components that have broken down. Another purpose of corrective maintenance inspections is to identify, list, and record the reason for a specific failure so that appropriate action can be taken to minimize the chance of having similar failures in the future.

The ability to integrate inspections that are directly related to failures into your equipment maintenance strategy will undoubtedly lead to improved machine conditions and optimize production.

4. Use historical data to estimate future spare part and supply needs.

Quality control is essential in operating a business and is best demonstrated through how companies handle machine failures. Running out of spare parts or supplies when you need them most is certainly going to cause disruption in the production line. Disruption leads to downtime, which then gives birth to poor productivity and higher costs. Identify critical spare parts based on historical figures; prepare and order them well in advance.    

5. Maintain a clean environment.

Cleanliness is imperative, especially if your business is operating in the food processing industry. Machines are like humans – after a heavy day of work, they are in need of proper care. They must be cleaned, monitored, and lubricated frequently.

Keeping up with worksite hygiene is more than just complying with government regulations. Whenever possible, store large machinery under covers. Exposure to extreme temperatures can lead to rust and rot. Rotate equipment frequently to avoid contamination and condensation. Contaminated machinery will lower productivity, shorten the life of your equipment, and result in significant costs for your business.

6. Apply reliability centered maintenance (RCM) methodology.

The reliability centered maintenance (RCM) approach recognizes that all equipment isn’t of equal importance to either the maintenance process or facility safety. Some equipment will have a higher probability of experiencing failures than others and subsequently will need more maintenance work. In other words, RCM activities focus on critical components that are important to facility reliability and eliminate unnecessary overhauls.

The RCM methodology addresses some key issues that other maintenance programs fail to deal with. Your facility might not always have unlimited financial and personnel resources. As a result, your maintenance efforts need to concentrate on the most critical components. This allows you to closely match resources to needs while increasing component reliability, minimizing the chance of sudden equipment failures and lowering costs.

7. Outsource as needed.

Bringing technicians from outside to conduct some or all of your maintenance activities is a common approach. In fact, many businesses do not have the capacity and expertise to establish metrics, define processes, and implement the full maintenance program entirely on their own.

Specialized maintenance activities are extremely expensive and time-consuming to train your technicians in since they might be more productive doing other work. Therefore, outsourcing your maintenance process to qualified, competent technicians is a win-win solution. It helps reduce costs, provides your employees with more flexibility, and allows them to focus on what they do best.

 

Moving the needle from reactive maintenance to proactive, reliability centered maintenance practices takes careful planning, analysis, and time. However, this is critical in growing and sustaining your business in today’s ever-competitive manufacturing world.

Deploying these maintenance practices across your organization will increase production efficiency, prolong the life of your equipment, and let you reap considerable benefits on a much wider scale.  

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The Equipment Debate: Rent vs. Buy

rent or buy equipment

Gearing up for the next big project or upcoming contract job brings about a familiar question: should you rent or should you buy your equipment? Deciding whether to rent or buy is best answered through careful consideration of the tasks at hand.

Unsurprisingly, there are several factors that contribute to this decision and may differ according to each scenario. Carefully weighing key components of the renting and buying debate yields a more cost-effective and successful result.

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Before making a decision, it’s helpful to go back to the old practice of jotting down a pros and cons list. Try including the following factors when making your choice.

The Cost

Considering the monetary implications is an important element in renting vs. buying. Which is the better deal for you, financially speaking?

In the world of construction equipment, owning is becoming more costly than renting as transportation, maintenance and operating costs, taxes, and insurance fees begin to add up. Is your business ready to handle those kinds of financial, long-term investments? While these vary among different types of equipment, renting is generally an inclusive cost and will include the price of ownership and any fees the rental incurs.

Renting offers several conveniences to alleviate some of the financial strain that comes with ownership. There is no need to invest in expensive insurance or worry about covering 100% of repairs and maintenance costs. Moreover, you don’t have to consider upgrading when the latest model comes out.

On the other hand, buying the equipment may be the more cost-effective choice in the end. Almost always, those who own a piece of equipment will see a return on their investment when selling. In the case of buying, it is important to research and compare the latest models, as some may hold their value more so than others.

A good compromise to consider is purchasing well-maintained used equipment, which can end up being cheaper than renting in the long run and is not as expensive as buying brand new equipment.

Equipment Needs

The project length and frequency of jobs should play a big role in your rent vs. buy debate. If a job is short-term or requires a specialized type of equipment, renting naturally makes the most sense.

Generally, if the equipment required will not be used at least 60% of the time throughout all of your projects, renting is a better option.

Conversely, if a project is long-term or will demand several recurring jobs, buying may be the more sensible solution. Owning a piece of equipment outright will help you avoid potential for increasing rental costs as the project continues, unforeseen hold ups, or machine unavailability.

When mapping out the pros and cons according to equipment needs, carefully consider who will have access and be operating that piece of machinery. It’s possible that a certain piece of equipment can replace one or two workers on a job, making the expense of buying worth even more in the long run.

Taxes

Buying a piece of equipment is a capital expense that must be considered when filing taxes. The equipment’s expenses during the year it was purchased may not be deductible from taxes, whereas renting costs can be deducted annually as a business expense. In fact, renting equipment adds a tax incentive as there are no associated property taxes or licensing fees.

The Hiring Incentives to Restore Employment Act (HIRE Act of 2010) also allows businesses a Section 179 write-off for equipment that is leased or financed. According to Section179.org, “The obvious advantage to leasing or financing equipment and then taking the Section 179 deduction is that you can deduct the full amount of the equipment, without paying the full amount this year. The amount you save in taxes can actually exceed the payments, making this a bottom-line friendly deduction.”

Talk with your accountant about the potential tax benefits or possible repercussions of purchasing heavy equipment for your business. Look over your tax returns for the previous few years and see what kind of difference a machinery purchase could make. Remember to think long-term – a tax break this year may not be worth the expense in the coming years.

Calculating the Costs

Money is the name of the game when it comes to big decisions. In order to properly plan ahead, try using a cost calculator for a better look at the numbers. Seeing the costs broken down associated with renting or buying may help rule out one option or the other.

Many contractors overlook the total cost of equipment management. If there is a project or job that needs to happen 300 miles away, the costs of the transport truck, the driver, loading and unloading time, and transport fuel should be included in the budget.

Once at the jobsite, it may be necessary to hire someone to maintain and fuel the equipment.

By calculating the costs during the research process and including all possible expenses, you’ll be better informed when making your final decision.

 

Assessing these top factors will provide further insight into whether renting or buying equipment is the best option for your business. It’s important to consider these things for the long-term, even if the upcoming job or project is short. By drafting a pros and cons list in detail, your immediate needs will be apparent and you’ll have a big picture to help you decide: rent or buy.

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