Construction equipment is a major investment for any contractor or construction company. Therefore, you want to get the most out of your machines and extend their lifespan as much as possible.
However, construction equipment is also exposed to harsh conditions, heavy loads, and constant wear and tear. So how can you ensure that your equipment stays in good shape and performs well for years to come?
The answer is simple: proper use and maintenance. Following some best practices and tips can prevent breakdowns, reduce repair costs, and improve efficiency.
This article will share six practical tips to make your construction equipment more durable and reliable.
How to Make Your Construction Equipment Last Longer?
1. Clean Your Equipment Regularly
Dirt, dust, mud, grease, and debris are unavoidable in any construction project. They can accumulate on your equipment and affect its performance and appearance. They can also cause corrosion, clogging, overheating, and other problems.
For instance, if you have trouble adhering plastic to metal, it could be due to dirt or grease on the surface. Cleaning your equipment regularly can help you remove harmful contaminants and prevent damage.
Cleaning your equipment regularly can help you:
- Improve the efficiency and functionality of the equipment
- Detect potential issues and fix them early
- Enhance the aesthetic appeal and value of the equipment
You should clean your equipment after every use or at least once a week.
Invest in tools like a stiff brush, a dustless vacuum, and a pressure washer to avoid scratching or damaging the surface. You can also apply protective coatings or paints to prevent rusting and fading.
If you have the budget, get a wheel wash system to clean your equipment quickly and easily.
2. Train Your Operators
One of the key factors that affect the durability and performance of your construction equipment is how your operators use it.
If they operate the machines in ways the manufacturer does not recommend, they can cause excessive wear and tear on the equipment, leading to more frequent repairs and replacements.
For example, do you know that you can prolong your motor grader’s lifespan by switching to the left lead when grading along curbs?
This is something that only well-trained operators will know. That’s why you must keep your employees updated on operating the equipment as it gets upgraded.
A wheel loader lasts about ten years (7 000 to 12 000 hours). But excessive braking, taking ramps, or short duty cycles can shorten its lifespan significantly.
Also, many operators often think working in the highest mode will make them more productive. But they can achieve the same results by adjusting to lower modes.
In fact, you can save thousands of dollars in fuel costs by instructing your operators to switch to lower modes.
So, the simple solution is to provide ongoing training to your operators so they can understand the equipment’s capabilities and handle different construction tasks effectively.
Training programs can come in different formats, and one of them can be online education with informative videos like this one.
With videos like these, you can give some basic instructions, supplemented with practical experience where operators will work with real machines (once it’s safe to do so).
3. Check Your Fluid Levels Frequently
Fluids are vital for the operation of your equipment. They include engine oil, hydraulic fluid, coolant, brake fluid, transmission fluid, fuel, etc. They help to power, cool, lubricate, transmit, and control your equipment.
However, fluids can also deteriorate over time due to oxidation, contamination, evaporation, leakage, etc. Low or poor-quality fluids can cause damage, inefficiency, and equipment failure.
So, you must check your fluid levels frequently and refill or change them when needed. You should also focus on buying high-quality fluids that meet the specifications of your equipment.
To check your fluid levels frequently, you should:
- Establish a written standard guideline for each type of fluid
- Use a dipstick or gauge to measure the level of the fluid
- Compare the level with the recommended range
- Look for signs of leakage or contamination
- Add or replace the fluid as required
4. Lubricate Your Equipment Properly
Lubricating your heavy equipment is not just good practice. It’s a necessity. Lubricants create a thin layer of grease that reduces friction and wear between moving parts.
They also prevent overheating, noise, vibration, and seizing, thus extending your machine’s lifespan.
But lubrication is not a one-size-fits-all solution. You need to use the right type, amount, and frequency of lubricant for each component of your equipment. You also need to check the condition of the lubricant regularly and replace it when necessary.
Here are some tips on how to lubricate your equipment properly:
- Refer to the manufacturer’s recommendations for the specifications of the lubricant
- Use a clean applicator or dispenser to avoid contamination
- Apply the lubricant evenly and thoroughly to all contact surfaces
- Remove any excess or spilled lubricant
- Monitor the level, color, viscosity, and temperature of the lubricant
You should also consider these factors when choosing the right lubricant for your machines:
|Parts||Different parts of your machines have different temperature ranges.||For parts that get hot, use more viscous grease that can withstand heat. For parts that stay cool, use synthetic grease that can perform well in low temperatures.|
|Seasons||The temperature affects the viscosity of the grease.||In summer, use thicker grease that won’t melt easily. In winter, use thinner grease that won’t freeze or harden.|
|Conditions||If your equipment operates in wet conditions, use marine grease.||This type of grease has special thickeners that resist water and prevent corrosion.|
|Pressure||Some equipment works under high stress and needs extra protection.||For these machines, use grease with molybdenum disulfide (also known as “moly”). This additive can penetrate the smallest pins and bushings and reduce friction.|
You should grease your equipment daily or according to the manufacturer’s instructions. Some joints may need different lubrication intervals, but you should never skip them.
If you do, you risk damaging your machines and shortening their lifespan.
Remember: greasing your equipment is not optional. It’s mandatory. It will help you keep your machines running like well-oiled machines.
5. Inspect Your Equipment for Wear and Tear
Wear and tear is inevitable for construction equipment due to high temperatures, friction, vibration, and age.
Worn-out parts can compromise the safety, efficiency, and functionality. They can also lead to costly repairs or replacements.
Therefore, you must regularly inspect your equipment for wear and tear regularly and fix or replace any damaged parts as soon as possible. You should also keep a record of the condition, usage, and maintenance history of each part.
Here is how to inspect your equipment for wear and tear:
- Follow a checklist that covers all the critical components of your equipment
- Look for signs of cracks, dents, scratches, bends, breaks, etc.
- Test the performance, alignment, and calibration of each part
- Measure the thickness, clearance, and tolerance of each part
- Compare the results with the acceptable standards
6. Use Technology to Manage Your Equipment
Technology can help you manage your equipment more effectively and efficiently. You can use various tools and software to track, monitor, analyze, and optimize your equipment.
Some examples are:
- GPS devices: These devices can help you locate your equipment in real-time and prevent theft or misuse.
- Sensors: These devices can help you measure the temperature, pressure, speed, and fuel consumption of your equipment. They can also alert you when there are abnormal readings or malfunctions.
- RFID tags: You can identify your equipment easily and accurately with these. They store information such as serial numbers, models, your equipments maintenance history, etc.
- CMMS software: This software can help you schedule, record, and manage all aspects of your equipment maintenance, just like GIS provides information about the land around us. They generate reports and insights to help you improve your maintenance practices.
By using technology to manage your equipment, you can:
- Save time and money by reducing human errors, paperwork, and manual tasks
- Increase productivity, efficiency, and profitability by optimizing the performance, utilization, and availability of your equipment
- Enhance safety, quality, and compliance by preventing accidents, defects, and violations
Taking Care of Your Construction Equipment in Summer Heat
Summer heat can be hard on your construction equipment. The sun, hot temperatures, and humidity can cause overheating, corrosion, wear and tear, and reduced efficiency.
To prevent these problems and keep your equipment running strong during the summer heat, you should:
Limit Sun Exposure
The best way to protect your equipment from the sun is to avoid working during peak hours (usually around the middle of the day) when the sun is most intense.
You should also store your equipment out of the sun when not in use or in transit. You can use covers, shades, or shelters to protect your equipment from direct sunlight.
Give Your Machine Time to Cool Down
After a long day of work, you should let your machine idle for a few minutes before shutting it off completely.
This will allow the engine systems to cool down gradually and prevent damage to the turbocharger and other components (which costs between $1000 to $5000 to fix).
If possible, do this in a shaded area or use a fan to help cool down your machine.
Clean and Inspect Your Cooling System
Your cooling system prevents overheating and keeps your engine at optimal temperature.
You should keep your radiator clean by using pressurized air to blow out any dirt, dust, or debris that may clog it. You should also check your hoses for cracks or leaks and replace them if needed.
Common Mistakes to Avoid:
You should also avoid these common mistakes that can harm your equipment and yourself in the summer heat:
- Don’t run your A/C with the doors or windows open
- Don’t forget to check for bird’s nests
- Don’t leave the fuel and DEF tanks empty or low at the end of the day
- Wear appropriate clothing, sunscreen, hat, sunglasses, and gloves to protect yourself from the sun
Construction equipment are valuable assets for your construction business that requires proper care and attention.
Following these practical tips can make your construction equipment more durable, reliable, and cost-effective. You can also improve your project outcomes, customer satisfaction, and reputation in the industry.
A University of Nebraska study showed that better preventive maintenance practices could cut repair bills for heavy machines by up to 25%. That means you could save thousands of dollars in repairs by simply taking better care of your equipment!