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Keeping Machines Well-Maintained
Ways to Upkeep Your Equipment

Keeping Machines Well-Maintained

Thunder Creek's Service and Lube Trailer (SLT) includes a new chassis, a front-end design and a modular design that can allow owners to add features and components. It has the capacity to hold 440 gallons of fluid in up to eight tanks, comprising diesel fluid, oil delivery, used oil reclamation, grease delivery, antifreeze, DEF and more, allowing for easy access while out in the field.

Keeping Machines Well-Maintained

On JCB Skid Steers and Compact Track Loaders, all daily checks and greasing can be performed at ground level. The daily maintenance points, pre-filters, oil and air filters are accessed via a large, rear service door, which is recessed for protection from potential impact damage. If access to major components is required, the cab can be tilted in less than five minutes.

Manufacturers are always searching for ways to make their machines more serviceable and accessible for contractors. The practice of maintaining equipment is crucial to enhancing productivity, as well as ensuring machine dependability and safety.

So, what are some ways to properly maintain equipment, thereby saving costs and improving equipment reliability?

The Starting Point
Of course, proactive and preventive maintenance of equipment is very important in order to save costs, prevent machine failures and improve equipment performance.

Manufacturers advise that an authorized dealer should perform the initial inspections of the machine. From there, the standard maintenance checks should include daily inspections, weekly maintenance and service intervals. These procedures should be regularly documented for tracking and reference purposes. Also thoroughly inspect tools and equipment prior to use.

Good Lubrication
It is important to have a good oil analysis and lubrication program for proper maintenance. According to Chevron, particle contamination causes 82% of mechanical wear. The micro particles enter the oil in the lubrication zone through the machine parts, and generate wear. To reduce contaminate-caused wear, Chevron suggests that you: "start with a clean new oil that meets the OEM standards, monitor in-service lubricants and keep in-service lubricants within OEM specifications."

Because there are different kinds of oil and grease, the right lubricant is very important.

An Upgrade - Saving Energy, Saving Cost
Spending more on lubricants may not seem very effective, because maintenance personnel can find it hard to justify the higher cost when they cannot see the savings before the purchase. Also, when high-performance oil is used, it is difficult to record those savings.

However, some maintenance personnel have viewed the upgrade of lubricants with a different outlook. They have determined the use of performance-formulated lubricants as justifiable because they have measured energy savings derived from using "synthetic lubricants with high film strength, friction-reducing additive technology," according to Royal Purple, a manufacturer of high-end synthetic lubricants. Energy savings, as a result of those high-performance lubricants, can counterweigh the increased cost of purchase.

Keeping Machines Well-Maintained

This compact track loader has been redesigned for accessibility and easier maintenance. Inspections of standard service items are simplified because the engine area comprises a three-panel hood and a tilting cooler arrangement, along with sight gauges for hydraulic oil and coolant. The tracks' roller wheels are made with mechanical face seals, which means no maintenance is required.

Keeping Machines Well-Maintained

The Lumax Grease Coupler (LX-1403) is a lock and release mechanism that has a 4-jaw design and an integrated non-return valve, enabling the coupler to withstand up to 22,000 PSI burst pressure. This heavy duty, quick-release coupler has a working pressure of 15,000 PSI. Also, it can fit into small spaces and, due to its integrated 1/8-inch NPT connection, is considered compatible with most hand, battery-powered or air operated grease guns.

Improved lubricant quality can result in the documentation of energy savings, which can then lead to a reduction of maintenance costs and an increase of equipment reliability, as well as profitability.

Field Service
One way to improve the maintenance of equipment is to provide solutions for field maintenance needs. For example, one large piece of equipment that offers a field maintenance solution is Thunder Creek's Service and Lube Trailer (SLT). It has been redesigned to provide extended storage. Owners who have recently purchased the trailer can install many features and preferences to expand their field service needs, such as for DEF systems and rear utility boxes. The front enclosure is larger than the previous model, providing owners more space to "add toolboxes, workbenches, grease delivery systems and added oil/fluid capacity." The trailer also has a combination generator/air compressor or an optional 3-in-1 welder/generator/air compressor to help with field maintenance and repairs.

A further way to practice preventive maintenance of heavy equipment is using telematics, an interactive device that can be installed in a vehicle to capture data. This type of technology allows owners to create their own maintenance intervals for servicing a machine or replacing parts, and then be notified when those intervals are met. Many solutions can monitor the performance of various components of a machine, detect mechanical failures and alert supervisors at the office or in
the field.

D.I.Y. or Send it Out?
When it comes to servicing your equipment for maintenance and repairs, choosing in-house technicians or a third party should be determined based on many factors such as cost savings and control, quality of work and customer service, and assets and parts.

Cost plays a major factor in deciding what type of maintenance to pursue. In-house technicians can give the company more control over their costs, thus avoiding markups. Yet, costs can be high when staffing, training and inventory management is needed to provide an in-house technician program.

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, in 2015 automotive maintenance and repair mechanics made an average of $39,360 per year. The initial costs of training and inventory are not included in that sum, and so an in-house technician would cost even more for the company, whereas third parties are usually able to spread such costs out.

With regards to quality of work and customer service, in some cases, third party providers may be desired for specialized work and in-house technicians for general maintenance, due to the fact that some technicians may not have the proper expertise to complete a job if there is not enough time to train them properly.

Having an inventory of equipment and parts is extremely important if you choose to do-it-yourself. It can take time to order the right pieces and can often cost more for individual purchases. Outside sources often have fully stocked parts inventories.

As seen in LC/DBM magazine, October 2018.

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February 26, 2020, 9:22 pm PDT

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