Equipment

Tips for Ensuring Proper Equipment Maintenance

January 2012, Government Fleet - Feature

by Stephen Bennett

Sarasota County in Florida uses Menzi Mucks for clearing ditches and drainage canals. To counter the effects of exposure to the salty water, the fleet installed lubrication systems for the mower head.
Sarasota County in Florida uses Menzi Mucks for clearing ditches and drainage canals. To counter the effects of exposure to the salty water, the fleet installed lubrication systems for the mower head.
At a Glance

Some maintenance tips from equipment specialists include:

  • Purchase equipment from a limited number of manufacturers.
  • Understand how geographic differences affect machines.
  • Create an effective preventive maintenance program.
  • When preparing equipment for use, a careful inspection should be the first step.

 

Consistent, high-quality maintenance is key to keeping off-road equipment in optimal condition, whatever demands geography, weather, and other factors place on backhoes, excavators, loaders, and mowers. How does a department achieve that standard?

For starters, meticulous spec'ing can ensure off-road equipment is well-matched to the work it is expected to do;  and if that equipment is sourced from a limited number of manufacturers, some fleets have found, technicians more easily master maintenance tasks and repairs. Software for managing maintenance and parts is essential, but take pains with data entry, a county fleet manager advised. You get out of it what you put into it.

A Common Manufacturer Helps Prevent Maintenance Mistakes

The off-road fleet at Thurston County, Wash., benefits by having much of its equipment from a single manufacturer. The fleet consists of approximately 230 pieces, of which about 125 are off-road units. Almost all of them are Caterpillar, including backhoes, excavators, and loaders. Richard Hardy, fleet operations crew chief for Thurston County, said using a standardized manufacturer makes maintenance of the off-road pieces more straightforward. "We work with Caterpillar and their service manuals," Hardy said. "It's all pretty well laid out."

Other fleet managers have stated that maintaining equipment from a limited number of manufacturers helps prevent incorrect diagnoses because technicians become familiar with the equipment. While the process of converting to a smaller number of manufacturers may take years to complete, it does come with an additional benefit: being able to keep up with advances in design. As manufacturers redesign equipment, some technical aspects may stay the same, making technician training that much easier.

Operating off-road equipment that is mostly from the same manufacturer provides the benefit of common training, tools, product support, and parts for all that equipment, leading to more uniform, consistent maintenance practices.

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