A fleet of equipment is the backbone of most construction companies, allowing them to complete tasks in days or weeks that would otherwise take months by hand. A mix of strict deadlines and anxious clients may push business owners and machine operators to overwork their equipment to get things done.
Here’s how they can meet deadlines without overworking their fleet.
Keep Equipment Clean
It might seem impossible on a construction site where everything is covered in layers of dust and mud, but keeping the equipment clean can go a long way toward preventing overworking.
Dirt can hide problems or the symptoms of overworking. The fleet doesn’t need to be as perfectly spotless as the day it rolled off the assembly line, but giving it a good wash once a month or so can help prevent issues from being overlooked.
It should be noted that equipment used during cold-weather months — especially in areas where the roads are salted or treated with de-icing chemicals — should be cleaned more often. This will prevent rust and severe undercarriage damage.
Provide Comprehensive Training
A trained operator will be better suited for preventing overworking because they understand the inner workings of each piece of equipment. An untrained operator may not recognize small signs that could indicate a machine is being overused, such as uncharacteristic noises or vibrations. Experience and training are the best ways to prevent overwork.
Ongoing training can also improve safety, especially where heavy equipment is concerned. Create a culture of continual learning and improvement. Education does not stop at onboarding.
Carry Out Frequent Inspections
Minor signs of overworking may be overlooked if the equipment isn’t inspected regularly. Common signs, such as frequently low fluids or illuminated warning lights on the dash, could indicate more significant problems. Ignoring these symptoms can lead to breakdowns or total equipment failure. It can be challenging or even impossible to meet deadlines when a vital piece of equipment goes offline.
These inspections don’t have to take a lot of time, and equipment does not have to be removed from the rotation. Basic checks should take place before each shift begins, and more in-depth examinations should occur two or more times a month, depending on how often a piece of equipment is used.
Items that are used infrequently or designed for a specific task may not need inspections as often. However, everything should get at least a cursory look before it’s used for the first time after a long period of storage.
Understand the Warning Signs
Each piece of equipment in a fleet will have its own personality and display unique warning signs if something goes wrong. New sounds or smells, uncharacteristic noises, or a loss of power could indicate something is going wrong that needs to be addressed.
It may take some time to learn the unique warning signs for each machine in the fleet. However, if operators and business owners are willing to listen, the equipment will tell them when problems are imminent.
Invest in the Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT)
The construction industry may be one of the slowest to adopt new technologies, but for owners concerned about overworking their fleet, adopting the Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT) can be one of the best ways to protect equipment. Networked sensors can monitor each machine in real-time, sending alerts if something is amiss and collecting lots of data about vehicle health.
This information can be applied to a predictive maintenance program that uses the data to determine when a system might fail. The more information this system can collect, the more useful it will be, and the more accurate its predictions will become.
Perform Preventive Maintenance
Don’t let small problems take fleet vehicles offline. Preventive maintenance schedules allow mechanics to fix minor issues before they cause serious damage. It does require taking the machine out of rotation, but instead of this happening at random, it is on a schedule that prevents it from interfering with meeting deadlines.
It may take some time to find the perfect maintenance schedule for each vehicle. However, once the system is in place, it is also useful for finding symptoms of overworking.
Actively Preventing Overworking
Rushing toward deadlines might seem like an average day in the construction industry, but overworking equipment to the point of failure isn’t the way to achieve those goals. Supervisors and maintenance staff alike need to actively work to prevent equipment overuse and abuse.
This may conflict with established practices, especially from experienced operators who are used to pushing things to their very limits and expecting maintenance staff will take up the slack.
Keep items from breaking down by preventing overwork every day and on every job site. It’s a relatively simple thing to do and will make a big difference in overall performance.
By Evelyn Long, Editor-in-Chief of Renovated.