Large, heavy machinery is essential for farmers, miners, and other industrial workers to complete their jobs, but it does require constant maintenance in order for it to run well and efficiently. Machinery that isn’t well-maintained can break down more often and run poorly, leading to unproductive workdays and incomplete tasks, as well as an unsafe environment for workers. It’s costly for equipment to breakdown, especially if it breaks down often, so it’s critical to properly maintain the equipment that is used.
Here are five tips you should keep in mind when maintaining heavy machinery.
- Keep everyone up to speed on operator training
Because large machinery can have many different operators, it’s important to have ongoing operator training so that everyone is staying on top of proper operation procedures. When equipment is first bought, inspections are done and general training is completed, but over time skills and knowledge can be lost or forgotten, and shortcuts can be taken. This leads to poor operation, which can cause breakdowns and equipment malfunctions.
Having short, easy-to-understand operator manuals for all equipment operators that also identifies best practices is an essential resource, not only to keep staff informed and safe, but to keep equipment operating properly.
- Have a regular maintenance schedule
Certain parts of machines need to be checked regularly for wear and tear in order to prevent full breakdowns. Preventative maintenance is key when it comes to extending the life of your equipment, so make sure to set a schedule to check components like tires, tracks, fluids, and electrical systems. Major repairs like repairing hydraulic cylinders, replacing worn out gears, and fixing broken down motors can set your productivity back, especially if you don’t have other equipment to use while one is being repaired.
- Test lubricants often and add more as needed
Reducing the amount of friction between moving parts is necessary for extending the life of your equipment, so properly lubricating those moving parts should be part of your preventative maintenance schedule. Using the right lubricant matters as well, as there’s a specific kind of oil or grease needed for specific components, so ensure you’re using the right one by checking the manufacturer’s recommendations or operator’s manual.
Additionally, you should be checking for leaks or excess grease or oil build-up when you’re checking the lubricants. If there are leaks, try and find and address the issue right away to avoid a bigger problem down the road.
- Look for signs of wear
Any wear and tear on parts in heavy machinery can cause breakdowns, and each worn component can contribute to a breakdown in its own way. Gears and belts that are out of alignment can cause vibration, wear, friction and poor lubrication can cause high temperatures, and aged and warped belts and bolts can negatively affect the equipment. If any worn parts are discovered, they should be replaced as soon as possible to curb the issue.
- Keep everything clean
Both the machinery and its operating environment should be kept clean at all times. In terms of the equipment, filters should be changed often, seals should be inspected, breathers should be kept clean and free of small particles and debris, and electronics in the cab should be cleaned often to avoid contamination. The machinery should be kept in a clean environment and preferably in a sheltered area away from the elements in order to avoid rust and rot.