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Tips to Keep Your Equipment Fleet Healthy

Tue September 26, 2023 - National Edition #25
Michael Fitzgerald, Bobcat

As a contractor, your equipment fleet is the lifeline of your business. The health and efficiency of your equipment can make or break your bottom line.

Simple strategies and tactics can help keep your equipment in tip-top shape, running optimally and minimizing costly downtime.

Routine Maintenance Is Non-Negotiable

Construction equipment requires regular maintenance, walkarounds and inspections to help prevent avoidable repairs. Your equipment is a large investment for your company, so proper management is essential.

Establishing a comprehensive maintenance schedule is crucial to operating reliable equipment and a dependable business. This includes regular inspections, scheduled servicing, fluid checks and keeping tabs on equipment hour meters. Following an effective maintenance schedule puts you in control, to be proactive in your equipment upkeep.

Operator Training Matters

Your equipment is only as good as the people operating it. Ensure that your operators are well trained and understand the equipment's capabilities and limitations. Properly trained operators are less likely to misuse equipment, which can lead to costly repairs and decreased lifespan.

Invest in training programs and provide ongoing education to keep your team up to date with the latest industry practices and safety guidelines. Well-trained operators are not only safer but also more efficient, which can save you money in the long run.

Keep Detailed Records

Maintaining accurate records of your equipment fleet's maintenance history, repairs and inspections is invaluable. It allows you to track costs, forecast expenses and ensure any warranty claims' accuracy. With detailed records, you can anticipate future maintenance needs and budget accordingly.

Embrace Technology

Modern technology has revolutionized equipment fleet management. Consider adopting fleet management software and telematics systems that help you to monitor equipment, maintenance alerts and fuel efficiency. By investing in telematics such as Bobcat Machine IQ, you and your team will be able to quickly identify and address equipment issues, potentially preventing costly breakdowns.

Consider Access

When buying new equipment, consider how much thought the manufacturer put into the regular maintenance or serviceability of their machines. Selecting equipment with easy-to-access components and parts is more important than you may initially think. When choosing a piece of equipment, look for easy access points, and make sure that panels open as wide or high as possible so you can easily access all major components.

In particular, ensure you note the location and accessibility of the following:

  • Hydraulic oil fill, gauge and tank
  • Air filter
  • Fuel filter
  • Accessory belts
  • Alternator
  • Starter
  • Battery
  • Control valve
  • Engine coolant bottle and fill
  • Cooling core
Plan for Downtime

No matter how well you maintain your equipment, downtime is inevitable. To minimize its impact, ensure that you have backup equipment available in case of an unforeseen problem. Additionally, planning maintenance and repairs during off-peak hours or slower seasons can help you to avoid being in a pinch during major jobs or critical work periods. Having a robust response plan in place will help you to navigate any potential equipment problems you may encounter.

Keeping your equipment fleet healthy and running optimally requires a proactive approach. Regular maintenance, operator training, detailed record-keeping, embracing technology and effective downtime planning are key elements of a successful fleet management strategy.

By following these guidelines and continuously improving your fleet management practices, you can increase the lifespan of your equipment, reduce operational costs, and ultimately, increase the profitability of your contracting business. A well-maintained fleet is not just an expense; it's an investment in the future success of your company.

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