Last Updated on March 7, 2023
Have you ever wondered how to use real-time data for predictive equipment maintenance? All sorts of companies across many industries need to manage their inventory—from construction to manufacturing and resource extraction to logistics. This inventory often includes equipment (and vehicles), which can be very expensive.
When equipment is operational and where you need it to be, you can be productive. When equipment isn’t operational or off-site, you could be losing money. Proper management of your resources is key to decreasing unnecessary costs while increasing productivity.
How to manage equipment
Equipment managers use either calendars, spreadsheets, or equipment management software to fulfill their roles.
Simply put, equipment management refers to the tracking of equipment location and condition. You know where the equipment is currently located and you also have some idea about the equipment’s condition. This includes awareness about the wear life of key components such as filters, tires, tracks, etc. That way you can order replacement parts and schedule equipment maintenance.
A comprehensive equipment management program tracks the above, but also includes more details. You not only know where the equipment is currently located, but also for how long it’s expected to be at that site and to which site it will go next. You also not only track the lifespan of wear parts, but also the lifespan of the equipment itself. This ensures that you have a plan for when and how you will divest and replace equipment.
Because most equipment requires fuel and other fluids, a comprehensive equipment management plan will include plans for the refueling process, fluid storage, and a schedule for ordering more.
Make better decisions with real-time data
Larger equipment, such as construction equipment and trucks, often come equipped with monitoring sensors. These analyze important aspects like: equipment usage, fuel usage, idle time, power mode selection, and fault codes.
People can then access equipment information digitally via a web portal. Equipment management software is capable of creating reports, such as fuel usage, which helps with fuel management and planning. Good data is always relevant and up to date.
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Without digital information, equipment managers only know the noted details from their last visual inspection. That means when you have equipment at various locations that are miles or even states apart, a lot of records will become outdated.
Today’s modern technology allows managers to monitor equipment while in use, so you can ascertain condition in real time. This provides more timely and therefore more accurate information, and helps save equipment managers time performing inspections.
By monitoring how equipment is being used, equipment managers can better allocate resources. If a machine is only being used a few hours per day on one site, perhaps it could be better utilized at another spot. If a machine is frequently being used in “High Power” mode, perhaps, you need a larger machine.
The data gathered by equipment monitoring systems benefits more than just equipment managers too. With the right software you can create reports that track fuel usage, idle times, power modes, and fault codes by operator. Then, you can compare your operators to each other and to a desired base line. See which operators are idling too often, which are operating equipment incorrectly, and which are the least productive. Then speak to those operators and help them correct their behaviors, so you can track costs and equipment wear and increase productivity.
Avoid downtime with preventative maintenance
Equipment management done properly requires time—and perhaps an investment into the aforementioned equipment software. But the costs of using a comprehensive equipment management program greatly outweigh the costs of the alternative—downtime.
Downtime refers to a period of time where production ceases or decreases because a machine isn’t operational. The machine either got damaged on site or suffered a mechanical failure. When this happens, it affects a greater part of the operation than just the tasks performed by that equipment. This is because a lot of work is collaborative, and relies on one party completing work before another party can complete theirs.
A compact excavator can cost $100/hour to operate. This is calculated by adding fuel costs plus labor costs plus equipment repair and replacement costs divided by the time the company owns the equipment. Larger excavators, loaders, and trucks cost several hundreds of dollars to operate. When these machines break down while in use, your equipment operating costs during the downtime basically stay the same, but you aren’t able to perform the work needed.
If the machine is working in conjunction with other machines, those other machines may not be able to work either. In quarries, one loader loads multiple trucks. If the loader breaks down, the trucks can’t deliver the rocks. You end up paying the equipment costs for all equipment on site—working or not—but you can’t generate revenue.
Also, when equipment breaks down, it can put you behind schedule and force you to make changes to your schedule. That’s time out of the project manager’s day and more money being spent.
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Optimize equipment usage with predictive maintenance
Equipment managers can determine the approximate lifespan of many equipment components (assuming they don’t get damaged). Some components are guaranteed for a certain time and most equipment operating manuals outline change intervals for key components.
Combine change interval data, with equipment usage data, visual inspections, and equipment usage plans to determine when is the best time to schedule maintenance. And not only maintenance, but also time to change out components you expect to fail in the near future.
If tracks on your excavator need to be changed out, find a time when the machine isn’t being used, like after having completed work on one job and not yet being needed for something else.
By scheduling maintenance when equipment isn’t needed, you avoid unnecessary downtime, decrease costs, and keep your equipment working, and your projects on schedule.
This may sound tedious at a glance, but once you get a rhythm going and form good habits, staying on top of equipment maintenance will become a stress of the past. Rest assured, we are here to help! And that’s why if you’re looking for construction vehicles to add to your fleet, well, we have just the right equipment for you.