Modern construction equipment is the key to efficient building. With the help of specialised tools, workers and engineers erect massive and complex structures faster and safer. But, despite its incredible functionality, any damages to heavy machinery come at a great expense. To avoid repair costs, equipment failure, and unsafe working conditions, companies should focus on construction equipment maintenance.
Construction equipment maintenance program ensures that construction companies follow maintenance schedules to preserve equipment life. With clear maintenance records and the help of service technicians, all heavy equipment stays safe and functional.
In this guide, we at Frontu explain what are some of the things you should check for during maintenance of your construction equipment. Here you will learn routine and preventive maintenance strategies and examples of poorly maintained equipment.
Why is maintenance important for heavy equipment?
Every modern construction company depends on heavy machinery to build fast and stay on schedule. However, without a clear maintenance plan and regular servicing, there are too many factors that can halt your progress.
Even with well maintained construction equipment, all tools experience gradual failure due to wear and tear. By following a strict heavy equipment maintenance checklist, construction companies aim to minimise all risks and expenses that could damage the business.
For modern equipment that is full of electronic components, the importance of maintenance is even higher. That being said, new machines come with specialised sensors and software integrations that makes all checkups and fixes much more efficient. When working at full capacity, construction equipment greatly accelerates all processes, therefore keeping them in the best possible condition is a top priority.
Heavy equipment maintenance ensures that equipment operators avoid sudden failure of machinery in an already dangerous workplace environment. With regular maintenance intervals, construction companies can identify emerging problems faster and avoid sudden component failure. Machinery maintenance, emphasizes service tasks to prevent equipment breakdowns that endanger machine operators.
Low equipment downtime
With routine maintenance procedures, heavy equipment rarely encounters mechanically induced failure. Proper training helps machine operators perform service tasks and avoid complete equipment failure. By following maintenance history, construction companies use the same equipment longer and deal with lesser gradual failure procedures.
As technicians schedule maintenance appointments, their goal is to minimise intermittent failure – problems that even trained operators may fail to handle. A proper maintenance schedule requires extra resources, but a good fleet manager makes sure that everyone follows the guidelines of the original equipment manufacturer and understands the equipment manual. Once everyone chips in and understands their role, required maintenance tasks minimise downtime and keep everyone on schedule.
Equipment maintenance saves money
A quick and snappy maintenance schedule wastes less time than a sudden failure of equipment components. With a loss of heavy machinery, the work becomes impossible or very inefficient: trained operators cannot use their equipment or try to run it despite intermittent failure, which results in much larger repair costs and a higher risk of damages.
Businesses have no choice but to enforce a strict maintenance plan to save money by preventing equipment breakdowns and reducing operating costs. Gradual and intermittent failure of equipment components is far less costly, and quick fixes prevent further damages that lead to complete construction equipment failure.
Rules and regulations
In an industry with dangerous working conditions, a construction company makes sure its heavy equipment abides follows the rules and regulations enforced by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) . They ensure that all operators are authorised to use heavy machinery, the equipment has clear capacities and restrictions, and all tools are inspected before use. Besides the basic maintenance plan, operators follow maintenance tips and requirements provided by the original equipment manufacturer.
How often should you maintain your construction equipment?
On a modern construction site, heavy equipment maintenance is essential because the machinery does all the physical labour. While it is hard to pinpoint exact machine maintenance intervals, construction equipment endures more wear and tear than tools in other industries.
Furthermore, we have different types of equipment maintenance that have different demands. Here are the usual categories for an optimal equipment maintenance plan.
Regular maintenance schedule
Regular heavy equipment maintenance follows a checklist to inspect the main machinery components. Here, trained operators must check these vital factors before every shift:
- Fuel tank and fuel delivery systems
- Engine oil and hydraulic oil levels
- Brakes and tires
- Engine coolant
Checking and servicing these components minimises the risks of mechanically induced damages and thermally induced failure. Regular heavy equipment maintenance focuses on these components to keep all machines safe and efficient.
To keep heavy equipment in peak condition, a construction company uses a strict equipment maintenance checklist, including post-operation maintenance tasks. A well organised program guarantees bookkeeping for construction equipment maintenance, which helps new and inexperienced operators better understand their machines and the needs of other construction equipment.
Routine and preventive maintenance program
Preventive maintenance programs focus on avoiding costly repairs and catching intermittent failure before further escalation. A preventative maintenance plan uses the manufacturer’s guidelines to keep machines in an optimal state and minimise the chance of mechanically induced failure.
Here operators follow provided maintenance tips, plus check lubrication and equipment fluids to ensure their longevity. A proper preventive maintenance program inspects all heavy equipment, including their functional parts, at least once every 1-3 months depending on the workload.
Seasonal maintenance affects both regular and preventive maintenance programs by adding new needs to these procedures. In areas that experience heavy rainfall, snow, and other conditions, a construction company brings additional heavy equipment to adjust to an extreme working environment.
To accustom to new challenges, a preventive maintenance plan includes additional checks to the battery and heating, plus any changes for other functional components that could suffer from freezing humidity, and extreme heat.
Most of the changes for seasonal maintenance are monthly adjustments, like the replacement of tires to adjust to the climate. Areas that do not experience many seasonal changes are in luck, as their equipment maintenance program can skip these steps, save money, and focus on regular maintenance tasks.
Corrective maintenance procedures are extra steps that act as a countermeasure to equipment failure. These issues cover the replacement of expensive parts without which the heavy machinery cannot continue its work.
In cases where heavy equipment suffers intermittent failure, the machine is still safe to operate. Technicians can add new entries to the maintenance checklist and delay the replacement or repair of expensive and complex parts. These procedures are unpredictable, but a fleet manager can expect equipment failure based on the manufacturer’s recommendations and prepare new parts ahead of time.
Staying aware of corrective maintenance needs is much easier with the most advanced construction equipment that informs about the wear and tear of the machine and the state of its components. If the damaged parts make the machine too dangerous to work with, operators can cooperate to relocate similar machines to work on top-priority tasks. This way, a corrective maintenance program takes care of problems faster, while the work output of perfectly functional machines is always very high.
Best Practices for Maintenance of Construction Vehicles
Based on the strategies discussed above, here are the focal points for heavy equipment maintenance, from essentials to soft recommendations:
Train personnel for equipment maintenance
Trained operators that understand heavy equipment and perform routine maintenance tasks are essential for fluid workflow at the construction site. While a preventive maintenance program needs specialised technicians, a construction company can save a lot of time and resources when the workforce has a deeper understanding of the heavy equipment maintenance checklist.
Follow the manufacturer’s manual
While documentation can be a boring read, the manufacturer of heavy equipment lets you the strengths and limitations of your machinery. Let it be the foundation for your equipment maintenance program.
Get quality replacements ahead of time
The manufacturer’s manual provides all the information you need about heavy equipment maintenance, including the recommended replacement parts. During routine maintenance procedures, operators can check which components experience the most wear and tear, and buy new parts ahead of time.
Clean construction equipment
A preventive maintenance program keeps construction equipment in a clean and optimal state. While cleaning intervals vary depending on the workload and site conditions, accumulated dirt and humidity are the quiet killers of machine components.
Record your maintenance program
A construction company that keeps track of routine and preventive maintenance procedures can identify equipment and parts that suffer from deprecation the most. Scheduling maintenance tasks around these trends leaves no room for surprises that cause equipment downtime, and higher repair costs due to full equipment failure.
Don’t skip servicing costs
The cost of providing construction equipment with optimal fluids and replacement parts will always be lower than the cover of big damages. Routine and preventive maintenance procedures must have high-quality hydraulic and engine oil, heavy-duty coolant, and other quality components.
Store equipment in optimal conditions
After work hours, a preventive maintenance program must ensure safe storage for construction equipment. If possible, a construction company tries to protect machinery from dirt, rain, and snow. Also, a safe and secure construction site must be guarded by security to prevent theft and other damages.
Focus on employee safety
Routine and preventive maintenance procedures try to prevent damage to machinery, but they also create a safer workplace environment. By focusing on employee safety, construction companies comply with OSHA regulations and minimise injuries and fatalities on the site. Without preventive maintenance and secure working conditions, lawsuits against the company will cause irreparable damage to the brand, bringing it to financial ruin.
Train operators to focus on longevity
Making sure that operators use equipment in accordance with the manufacturer’s recommendation is the best way to prevent damages and push beyond the average lifetime of service. Even in cases where it seems that the machine can take a bigger workload, it is highly recommended to follow the existing guidelines, as they will ensure a higher work output in the long run.
Choose the best machines for the job
Depending on the projects that the construction company works on, investing in modern equipment is the best way to speed up productivity and reduce the need for preventive maintenance. New machines come equipped with heavy equipment software that informs operators about damages and servicing needs.
With the best equipment for your project, preventive maintenance requires far fewer resources and digitised machines can send automated repair requests to mechanics. On the modern construction site, operators and their vehicles can communicate via specialised software, keeping the work as fluid and as efficient as possible.
Heavy equipment maintenance checklist
The best companies use a checklist to go through all construction equipment maintenance steps. By separating procedures by their urgency, you get a linear process that takes care of all routine and preventive maintenance tasks.
For specialised equipment that uses maintenance software, following a list is even easier because unusual problems and reports are automated. With assistance from technology, weak links and equipment failure are identified much faster. This way, all that is left are simple servicing and routine maintenance tasks.
Checklists create a simple construction equipment maintenance program that does not overwhelm new employees.
The first step is simple – all machines have daily checkup needs. Here are the daily heavy equipment maintenance procedures that must be performed before work starts:
- A visual overview of all vehicles, signs of depreciation and leaks
- Hydraulic oil and engine oil levels
- Inspection of the fuel tanks and their capacity
- Examination of tires, tracks, and breaks and their routine maintenance
- Fluid levels and replenishment (coolant, wiper fluid, etc.)
- Inspection of headlights, taillights, and other warning lights
- Equipment cleaning
- Lubrication of moving parts
- Inspection and servicing of specialised attachments
Daily procedures focus on keeping the vehicle in a functional state to maintain the workflow and prevent safety hazards. A thorough preventive maintenance program follows the steps above to keep equipment in top condition.
Weekly procedures take a closer look at the serviced components during daily routine maintenance. Here is the recommended maintenance program to conclude your work week:
- A closer inspection of machine components
- Stress testing of hoses and fluid compartments
- Air filter cleaning and replacement
- Examination of tires and their inflation level
- Testing of tracks, breaks, and their routine maintenance
- Inspection of seat belts, fire extinguishers, and other safety equipment tests
- Assessment of loose nuts, bolts, and budging of attached components
Depending on the workload, construction companies can control the schedule of extensive maintenance procedures. A well-timed interval ensures that construction tools never reach complete failure and massive repair costs. These extra steps avoid unexpected damage and keep machines in optimal condition.
A monthly preventive maintenance program takes care of more sturdy components that do not need frequent inspection:
- Overview of daily and weekly maintenance documents
- Testing of the hydraulic system, inspection of leaks and damages in hoses and cylinders
- Examination of the cooling system
- Inspection of sensors, gauges, and electrical components
- Replacement of parts with gradual failure
The annual inspection of all construction equipment can be a long or very quick process that depends on the prior execution of the preventive maintenance program. If there are no machines that need replacement parts, your yearly review will focus on fulfilling the manufacturer’s recommendations.
Here operators make sure that the machine has been serviced with the recommended fluids and replacement parts at optimal intervals. If routine and preventive maintenance logs do not comply with these demands, annual procedures bring machines back to the optimal state before the next quarter.
Who is responsible for maintaining heavy machinery?
The responsibility for optimal performance and individual maintenance of the machine falls on its operator. However for monthly maintenance tasks, construction companies bring in specialised technicians to deal with intermittent failure and complex breakdown of essential components.
Still, heavy equipment maintenance duties may differ depending on company goals. Forcing these responsibilities onto operators helps them better understand the equipment, but large-scale construction projects may cause too much wear and tear on specialised tools. In such cases, the operator’s lack of expertise may cause important issues to go unnoticed.
For such cases, the best solution is splitting preventive maintenance responsibilities between operators and skilled technicians. The person using the equipment focuses on cleaning and servicing their machinery, while the experts perform routine inspections to keep it in optimal condition.
Also, if a construction site uses state-of-the-art construction equipment, the dealerships include servicing plans that send the manufacturer’s technicians to keep it in an optimal state. If the project heavily relies on advanced equipment to stay on schedule, it is better to entrust its preventive maintenance to dedicated professionals.
Modern companies depend on routine and preventive maintenance procedures for heavy equipment. While the tools perform incredible feats of strength and precision, the entire business model shifts towards improving and guarding specialised machinery.
While there is no “one size fits all” solution for construction equipment maintenance, a simple checklist that includes parts affected by wear and tear will do wonders to reduce downtime and keep everyone on schedule. Some companies employ skilled technicians or request assistance from the manufacturer to perform servicing tasks. This solution is great for cases where heavy machinery maintenance involves checkups of complex electrical components.
Depending on the amount and quality of specialised machines on the construction site, maintenance tasks can be either very tedious and time-consuming or fast and efficient, especially if a company uses heavy equipment software.