If you and your business depend on heavy equipment to get the job done on schedule then you know there are many things you cannot prevent. There will be weather delays. Delays in getting permits and on-site inspections are part of the business. Waiting for the crew doing the ‘other’ job to finish as your clock is ticking is the norm.
All delays end up costing you money and a lot of it. The job you started optimistic of a time completion bonus turns into hoping to cover costs. Watching crews sitting idle waiting for a mechanical repair is the most frustrating. A lost two days with the excavator or dozer can costs you thousands and thousands of dollars and have you sending half your crew home with a short paycheck.
Though all of these delays do and will happen there are some things that you can do to mitigate the breakdowns. If it is going to cost $5000 a day or more to lose a day of service from a piece of equipment it is hard to not justify efforts to reduce breakdowns. It is not only your bottom line to be considered – your reputation is on the line as well.
Equipment inspection checklists are not a waste of time so long as they are not just a paper drill. If an operator actually spends 15 to 30 minutes inspecting the key areas each day you will save many hours in the long run. If the inspection is a cup of coffee in the cab with a pen making check marks it is of no value at all.
Seldom are hydraulic failures not visible ahead of time by telltale leaks. A new leak or fresh fluid in a different place is a solid indicator of an issue. It may not be enough to sideline you yet but it might be enough to get a heads up to order a part so there is not a day of downtime waiting for the part.
Fluid level checks on a daily basis allow you to replace a seal or gasket instead of an engine overhaul. Checking pins and bushings on tracks is easier than putting a thrown track back on and a lot faster. With good open communication between your operator and onsite mechanic a loud bearing can be scheduled in to be switched or repacked before the equipment is sitting idle for 4 hours.
A key piece of any heavy equipment team is the onsite mechanic. Aside from having one available on bigger jobs they need the tools to do the job. It may take only a few hours for a repair but if the equipment needs to be transported 60 miles each way for that repair you have likely lost 2 days of production.
Make sure your mechanic has bearing pullers and packers heavy enough for this common job available to them. Pull behind heavy tools cost a little more but it is faster and cheaper to move them to the job then the equipment to the garage, saving many hours of production.
Spending a little time finding the specialized tools needed to do the repairs on-site as easily as in the garage will pay dividends in the long run. Companies like SGS Engineering can provide the specialized tools you need to stay on the job site and to keep your down time to a minimum.
Article submitted by: Brian Colton