For some, the onset of fall warns us of the impending winter months. If you live in a region that is susceptible to snowstorms, icy conditions or even increased rain, you're probably already aware of the precautions needed for surviving such weather.
However, your heavy-duty machinery, including construction equipment, farm machinery and power tools, also require some weatherproofing of their own. Although you might be tempted to wait until the last minute, scheduling your maintenance projects during the fall can actually drive productivity and minimize the risk of jobsite injuries.
Lubricating and Cleaning
Following a precursory inspection, the first step to any effective equipment maintenance schedule is the lubrication and cleaning of any moving parts. Some machines and components, particularly those that are constantly running or moving, require lubrication on a daily basis. In some cases, this type of daily maintenance is enough to keep the unit in optimum shape for months or even years. Other machines, however, will require a little more care.
You'll also want to keep in mind that some fluids, especially water, can freeze as temperatures start to drop. While this isn't typically a concern in the early part of fall, the latter months are susceptible to freezing conditions in many parts of the northern United States. As such, you'll want to monitor any equipment that relies on water, fuel or other types of freezable liquids.
Replacing Worn or Damaged Parts
If a part or tool is already showing signs of excess wear or damage, seasonal temperature changes are bound to have a negative effect. Apart from resulting in greater repair costs down the road, ignoring such issues can be a real hazard to you or your teammates.
Sometimes, particularly when working with older equipment, replacement parts might be difficult to locate. While there are some shops that offer custom fabrication if you can't find a similar replacement part elsewhere, this concern only underscores the importance of maintaining your tools.
Storing Unneeded Equipment
Unneeded equipment can sometimes be put in storage in the fall. If the use of this hardware is dependent on favorable weather, utilizing a garage, pole barn or other type of indoor unit is a great way to keep it out of harsh conditions altogether. Scheduled and ad hoc maintenance can even be performed in an environment that is clean, spacious and, in some cases, climate-controlled.
In fact, studies performed on behalf of the Massachusetts Department of Public Works actually show a significant reduction in overall expenses when the organization's fleet of vehicles are stored indoors as opposed to outdoors. This is primarily due to an increase in unscheduled or unexpected maintenance as well as the rainstorms, snowstorms and severe weather that affect outdoor storage yards.
Ensuring Operator Knowledge
Fall is also a great time to verify the knowledge or training of any equipment operators. You might also take this time to brush up on your own comprehension of safety and usage procedures. Apart from avoiding accidents, the act of bolstering your education on the subject can lead to greater productivity and efficiency on the jobsite. Moreover, the upcoming holidays provide ample time for the pursuit of additional training or certification if necessary.
Preparing for Future Maintenance Needs
There are a number of steps you can take to better prepare yourself when future maintenance needs arise. Establishing a set schedule will keep you on top of any sudden breakdowns, failures or malfunctions, while taking notes on the repairs you've already performed can help troubleshoot issues down the road.
You can also try to limit the overall number of equipment brands and manufacturers you use. While this doesn't necessarily cut down on the maintenance needs of such hardware, it does simplify the process of finding replacement parts when needed.
Maximizing the Efficiency of Equipment and the Safety of Teammates
While regular maintenance is unavoidable, those who are diligent and proactive about their tools are more likely to reach the full life expectancy of their hardware while drastically reducing the overall number of workplace accidents. Not only does this ensure the longevity of your valuable construction equipment, but it also cultivates a happy, productive and safe working environment.
Megan Wild is a residential home construction writer, who has her own blog dedicated to home improvement and decor. When she isn't spending all of her money on paint or nails, you can find her tweeting @Megan_Wild.