What started out with hand tools and long deadlines has evolved and changed over the centuries. A fleet of heavy equipment is the lifeblood of the construction industry, and without it, keeping up with the myriad projects that come across your desk every year would be nearly impossible.
We all know and understand that maintenance is part of owning and operating a fleet, but waiting for things to break down before you repair them isn’t smart or cost-effective. Preventive maintenance is the best option, allowing you to get ahead of problems before they take your equipment offline. So what should be on your preventive maintenance checklist?
Start with construction equipment paperwork
Before you start, the best place to begin is with paperwork and documentation. Each piece of equipment should have its own file of paperwork, detailing its usage and maintenance history. This should also tell you the last time this particular equipment got inspected and when it’s due for its next one.
In addition to helping you keep track of preventive maintenance inspections, this paper trail also serves as a maintenance history if you ever decide to sell your equipment in preparation for an upgrade. If you at any point decide to incorporate AI and machine learning into your maintenance program, this detailed information will provide a baseline for the programs to work from.
With a complete maintenance history, a machine learning program could even potentially predict when a piece of equipment needs to be taken offline for repairs or retired.
A basic maintenance checklist for construction equipment
The exact details of each vehicle’s maintenance schedule will vary depending on the make and model, how old it is, what type of equipment it is, and how often it gets used. However, this checklist can serve as a guide and foundation for nearly any item in your construction fleet.
Look for Any Visible Damage
You won’t always find it, but sometimes problem indicators can present in ways that are easy to spot. A leaky gasket might show as a crack or a puddle of fluid beneath the vehicle, for example.
This should include both standard and emergency brakes. Ensure the brakes are operational and the brake fluid is topped off. Have someone stand behind the equipment while you press the brakes to ensure the indicator lights work - well of course not directly behind where they could be in the path of the machine should it suddenly go backwards.
Batteries tend to die at the most inopportune times. Inspect the battery and be on the lookout for problems such as corrosion or battery swelling. Batteries should be load tested regularly and replaced when their health starts to fail.
Controls and Steering
Put all the controls and steering operations through their paces to ensure everything is operational. Note any places where the steering feels sluggish or unresponsive.
Fluids and Filters
Check the fluid levels before each workday. For filters, make sure you’re replacing them according to the manufacturer’s recommendations. Most filters are difficult to inspect for functionality, but a quick once-over is always good to ensure they’re not leaking.
Engines or Power Sources
A piece of construction equipment becomes an elaborate paperweight if the engine doesn’t start. Inspect the machine or batteries for electric vehicles, and ensure they are in good working order.
Check headlights and other lighting features at the beginning of each shift to ensure they’re all operational. Note any burned-out bulbs or lenses that look dull or cloudy, as all of these need to be addressed.
No one likes to see a safety indicator light glowing on their dash, but they’re there for a reason. Check for any new safety indicator lights when you start the vehicle for the first time. If any are present, follow the manufacturer’s recommendations for how to proceed.
Operator Safety Features
Seatbelts, mirrors, and other features designed to keep the operator safe come next. Ensure everything is working correctly, and don’t be afraid to take a vehicle out of rotation if something isn’t right.
Tires or Treads
The exact details of this checkpoint will vary depending on the equipment, but whether a vehicle has tires, treads, rollers, or some combination, they need to be inspected at the beginning of each shift. Any problems, from embedded nails to cracked treads, should be reported.
This won’t apply to every piece of equipment, but for anything that uses pneumatic or hydraulic systems to raise, lower, and manipulate arms and buckets, daily inspections are essential. These systems are kept under high pressure, and it won’t take much for a small leak or a bit of damage to cascade into something devastating.
Don’t skip inspecting your constuction equipment
Inspecting your construction fleet each day may seem like a waste of time, but preventive maintenance is worth the investment. Don’t skip an inspection day — you may find yourself missing something small that takes the entire machine offline for lengthy and costly repairs.
Author Bio: Rose Morrison is a freelance writer who covers construction and building design topics. She is also the managing editor for Renovated.
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