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.
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.