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Resolve to a Preventative Maintenance Program in the New Year

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This time of year, many of us make resolutions to put our health first – start exercising, eat better, and get more sleep. Why not direct that enthusiasm to the health of your equipment?

Regular preventative maintenance (PM) is one of the best investments you can make in the ROI and health of your fleet. If your company doesn’t have a PM program, now is a great time to implement with the basics, outlined in the following six tips.

Note: Consult every machine’s operator manual for specific best practices and to ensure safety while performing all PM activities.

Tip #1: Assign an Owner
Is preventative maintenance the responsibility of the equipment operator? Does it fall on the fleet manager? Or should the company’s owner be in charge of making sure PM is executed and tracked?

The first step in establishing a successful PM program is designating a champion, someone to take ownership of the program and ensure it doesn’t fall off like New Year’s Resolutions typically do. In addition to simply verifying PM is getting done, this person should establish clear goals for the program, ensure a consistent process for tracking and documentation is being followed, and set a future time to review the program, its successes and misses, and revise, if necessary.

Tip #2: Look It Over

Because identifying potential issues before they become major problems, a basic PM program begins with a quick visual machine inspection at the start of each workday.

Take a quick walk around to make sure everything looks good – and, more importantly, to spot anything that appears troublesome. Check for cracked or broken hoses, leaks, low tire pressure, build-up of debris, especially on moving components, and any loose bushings, pins, or bolts.

Tip #3: Examine the Engine
The engine is the powerhouse of every piece of equipment so it needs dedicated attention.

At the start of each day, check to be sure there’s no debris build-up in the cooling system. Also, look for signs of condensation in the fuel tank, as this can damage the fuel and possibly the engine itself. Air and fuel filters, while not necessary to be examined daily, should be checked regularly, and cleaned or changed as-needed.

Tip #4: Check All Fluids
One of the simplest yet most important pieces to a PM program is ensuring adequate fluid levels every day. If contamination is detected in any fluid, test and/or change it immediately, and discard the bad fluid in a responsible, approved manner.

A checklist of five fluids to monitor on a daily basis should include:

-Oil
-Fuel
-Hydraulic fluid
-Antifreeze/Coolant
-Diesel Exhaust Fluid (DEF)

Tip #5: Grease Crucial Points
Whether a backhoe or skid steer, tractor or HDD drill, equipment often has several moving parts, making grease an important, daily PM point.

While many apply grease at the beginning of the day, it’s a good habit to get into at the end of the day. A machine is more receptive to grease when it’s warm, after a full day of operation, versus cold, before it has been started for the day. Always use high-quality grease that’s appropriate for the temperature variances where the machine is operating.

Tip #6: Team Up
Perhaps the biggest advantage offered by preventative maintenance is right there in the name – prevention. Specifically, preventing problems before they become, well, problems. Technology has brought new opportunities to make this process more accurate and less time-consuming.

Consider teaming up with a trusted partner that knows equipment – an equipment dealership. RDO Equipment Co., for example offers several exclusive services for customers to improve their fleet management, from basic, ongoing maintenance to full telematics and machine health monitoring.

Even if the decision is made to keep the ownership of PM in-house, companies can take advantage of annual, thorough inspections or as-needed help from the dealership’s trained, skilled team. 

Resolve for ROI
With any New Year’s Resolution, the key to success is starting small and setting clear expectations. These six tips are a great starting point to establish a PM program you can stick with and, ultimately, reap the rewards of more uptime, better fleet health, and overall ROI. 

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About The Author
Jake Livingston is Machine Monitoring Manager with RDO Equipment Co. in Moorhead, MN.

For more information on PM tips and regular, thorough equipment inspections, contact your local RDO Equipment Co. store

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