In a modern work site, advanced machinery has become the main contributor to total work output. By performing incredible feats of strength and precision, they increase productivity and reduce labour costs. However, the latter benefit is only true when employees protect tools with cost-effective maintenance actions. Work with expensive equipment needs correct procedures that ensure fluid replacement of spare parts, reduce repair costs, and minimise downtime.
With an effective maintenance program, a skilled maintenance manager can keep equipment running and extend its useful life with scheduled repairs and an active maintenance staff. Spending money is an inevitable part of a modern maintenance strategy, but spending has to be precise and not excessive.
In this comprehensive guide, we, with the help of experts at Frontu, will discuss the importance of cost-effective maintenance activities and the basic servicing principles used by many organizations with top-class maintenance managers. From understanding the aspects of equipment breakdown to effective solutions for cutting maintenance costs, we will cover everything you need to know to keep all tools in optimal condition and avoid overspending.
Equipment wear and tear explained
Tracking equipment depreciation is a great way to keep all tools in optimal condition. This section covers factors that damage equipment over time and the importance of maintenance data for reducing equipment maintenance costs.
Manual tools, power tools, and heavy equipment machines have similar factors for wear and tear. By taking a closer look into their effect on the tools’ health, we can start determining estimates for possible damages, downtime, and a corresponding maintenance budget.
Friction and vibration analysis determines how the constant movement, shaking, and contact with abrasive materials damage specific tools. Human error, poor working conditions, condition of processed surfaces, and other factors can cause extra damage to the machine. Keeping tabs on the state of equipment provides great help for scheduling repairs and cutting costs with pre-ordering of potential replacement parts.
Corrosion is another damaging factor that can cause your maintenance expenses to skyrocket if equipment is not kept in optimal conditions. Excessive moisture, season changes, or contact with chemicals can accelerate rust formation. If not addressed in time, the structural damages caused by corrosion can cause unexpected failure of tools and machine components. In worse cases, these damages can cause total equipment failure, resulting in more downtime, more maintenance work, and more expenses that could have been avoided with a proper maintenance strategy.
Manual tools have the lowest equipment maintenance costs but they still suffer damage from numerous depreciation factors. As we move up the ladder to power tools, their design includes electrical components and more delicate parts, whose state must be tracked by the maintenance department.
If left unchecked, depreciation can significantly reduce the lifetime of equipment, even in a new machine. When tools start to break down ahead of time, maintenance spending can spiral out of control. By understanding which factors impact the wear and tear of tools and collecting information on their state, equipment managers use data-driven insights to spend less money with a cost-effective maintenance program.
How do we track equipment wear and tear?
The secret of reducing maintenance costs lies in tracking and documentation of damages and repairs. While top management strategies begin with basic checklists and maintenance changelogs, the best servicing results stem from accurate data collection on the state and damages to tools and their components. Although many mining, construction, and excavation companies use hybrid solutions to determine the maintenance budget, businesses with high-end machines centralise their servicing schedules around heavy equipment software.
For a better evaluation of maintenance expenses, let’s take a closer look at industrial equipment categories and the best ways to track their damages.
The servicing of manual tools is less susceptible to modernization. Their primitive nature makes adding trackers and sensors a senseless ordeal that could result in reduced productivity. On the bright side, the breakdown maintenance of hand tools is a lot cheaper, and equipment managers can spend money on spare parts without putting a dent in the maintenance budget.
To track the wear and tear of manual tools, workers check the blades and handles for visible damage. Then, preventive maintenance procedures, such as cleaning and lubrication, will reduce costs and lower the required frequency of maintenance tasks. While their integration into management software is limited and requires more labour from employees, the maintenance management of manual tools is just a drop in a bucket compared to power tools and heavy equipment machines. Keeping them in good condition is simple: with a simple preventative maintenance checklist, they will last longer, while their contribution to maintenance spending is barely noticeable.
Power tools need more attention, including regular checkups by skilled electricians. The additional complexity results in more unavoidable maintenance expenditures. Aside from mechanical parts that come in contact with processed surfaces, electrical equipment has more moving components, spare parts are more expensive plus harder to find, and safety mechanisms need to be in top condition to protect the health of employees. Also, all electrically powered tools must follow the rules and regulations set by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE).
Despite additional processes and a higher maintenance cost, power tools are a lot more efficient. Even better, the total cost of maintenance can be reduced if high-end instruments can be incorporated into the management system for better tracking of damages and estimated replacement needs.
Heavy equipment machines
Industrial equipment consists of complex machines that cannot be serviced by regular employees. While cleaning, lubrication, and similar equipment maintenance tasks can be performed after basic operator training and guidance from the manufacturer’s manual, the engine parts, hydraulic system, and electrical components need servicing from skilled technicians. Some businesses outsource heavy equipment servicing to their manufacturers, but strict execution of regular maintenance procedures, paired with the employment and training of skilled employees will eventually lower maintenance costs.
Even with thorough daily inspections, tracking the state of an industrial machine and its hundreds of components is a very difficult and resource-intensive task. Thankfully, modern tools have sensors and trackers monitoring their state to warn maintenance managers about damages ahead of time, resulting in cut maintenance costs and reduced downtime. Heavy equipment software turns a near-impossible task into a manageable ordeal, where a maintenance manager can enforce equipment maintenance procedures and urgent repairs ahead of time, resulting in lower repair costs.
Heavy equipment machines have many factors that can damage their state and increase the overall maintenance cost. Rough terrain, weather conditions, and contact with abrasive materials can cause direct damage to its parts or cause a buildup of dust, debris, and other waste. If maintenance work begins the daily execution of preventative maintenance tasks, managers can cut costs for other procedures by tracking data in the equipment maintenance system.
In the vehicle category, we observe the state of heavy equipment machines that focus more on the loading and transportation of materials: dump trucks, pallet jacks, and other similar vehicles. Alongside previously mentioned maintenance needs for industrial machines, they require inspections of tires, brakes, transmission, and the entire engine compartment. For further evaluation of performance and damages, sensors track data to inspect fuel consumption efficiency and other relevant data.
Tracking equipment with maintenance software
With equipment software solutions, workers can manage, schedule, and maintain tools and machines with ease. The addition of sensors, trackers, and other electrical components that send diagnostic data into the system eliminates the necessity of frequent thorough checkups, which effectively reduces labour costs. By removing servicing steps that need hands-on involvement, and focusing on preventative maintenance tasks, businesses no longer need to waste time and resources with constant checkups on potentially damaged components.
How can we reduce the cost of equipment maintenance
By reducing maintenance costs that are spent on costly repairs and unnecessary inspections, we can slowly move towards a perfect balance of cost-efficient solutions. To achieve this goal, modern businesses shift their focus towards regular maintenance procedures to determine which tasks are necessary and eliminate redundant and ineffective procedures.
While most regular servicing plans begin with a thorough inspection of tools and their components, a well-balanced maintenance plan and assistance from heavy equipment software create a perfect harmony, where the attention of manual workers is only directed and tasks and components that need cleaning, lubrication, or some kind of immediate attention. The goal of a modern and cost-effective maintenance plan revolves around finding automated and self-sustaining solutions for as many problems as possible. By leaving precise measurements and equipment monitoring to high-quality software, we strive for the ultimate cost-effective solution, where only non-automatable tasks are done manually.
Top strategies for reducing maintenance costs
This section covers the most popular strategies for cutting maintenance costs while keeping industrial equipment in the best possible condition. If you want to follow the example of world-class businesses and keep your repair costs low, follow these tips:
Identify failure modes
By evaluating situations and conditions where the managed equipment can reach failure, you can structure maintenance strategies around the uncovered criteria. For example, if a skid steer loader is constantly struggling with moving the bucket that holds the material, it is possible that the loader arms were not properly cleaned or lubricated. Still, that does not mean that employees responsible for servicing are at fault. Depending on the working conditions, a heavy equipment machine can accumulate a lot of abrasive materials in just a few hours.
The identification of failure modes should focus on two core principles: the estimated lifespan of components in the user’s manual, and the effect of the work environment that can change these predictions or throw them out the window. Start with a simple maintenance plan and study failure modes to prevent these issues in the future.
Preventive maintenance procedures focus on keeping tools and their components in good condition. By following a strict checklist of mandatory servicing steps, some businesses manage to prolong their expected lifespan. Cleaning and lubrication are mandatory procedures that make up the foundation of preventative maintenance procedures. Workers can inspect equipment components while servicing them, and compare their insights with the diagnostic data on the tool in heavy equipment software.
Proper operator training is essential for reducing maintenance costs while maintaining the same servicing standards. It is a great way to cut additional labour costs because a large part of the responsibilities can be shifted to one worker. Operators can step in to perform routine maintenance tasks while leaving complex repairs and servicing procedures to skilled technicians.
Higher quality equipment
Companies with high-end equipment can connect all tools to the management software. Also, while new machines have many moving parts that need extra training for proper servicing, they are a worthy investment due to better fuel efficiency and resilience to abrasive materials. A sturdy machine needs fewer spare parts, which results in lower maintenance costs in the long run.
Fluid maintenance management
Fluid servicing is a crucial process in all effective maintenance strategies. Especially for heavy equipment machines, there are entire systems full of components that need lubrication to minimise damages caused by friction. Also, for tools that use hydraulic systems, hydraulic fluid is essential for generating force that moves the working components. Keeping track of oil and coolant levels is necessary if you want to prolong the health of machine components and save money by preventing costly repairs, caused by excessive friction and a lack of lubricant and coolant fluid.
Maintenance data tracking
By tracking information collected from sensors across all equipment, maintenance managers can anticipate damages to the system ahead of time. With equipment management software, they can rank different tools and machines by priority levels to catch total equipment breakdown before it happens. This way, companies avoid the massive cost of buying new machines, and expensive repair parts, because the implemented system warns the user about the escalating situation ahead of time.
A properly structured maintenance plan that takes into account failure modes and working conditions is the perfect starting point for all equipment management strategies. By focusing on preventive servicing tasks and assigning them appropriate time intervals, equipment managers ensure that all components are cleaned and lubricated as instructed in the manufacturer’s manual.
Even in cases where equipment is protected with all safety precautions, accidents can still happen. A reactive maintenance strategy focuses on a swift response to sudden equipment failure with one goal – minimise downtime. To achieve this goal, businesses deploy skilled technicians to perform emergency repairs as swiftly as possible to bring the tool back to its operational state. If the party’s preventative maintenance program did not take care of the required replacement parts, reactive maintenance specialists look for a cost-effective solution, where the payment for replacement parts and repairs does not exceed the damage caused by equipment downtime.
Cut higher energy costs
When all tools and machines are protected with cost-effective maintenance solutions, companies can continue cutting costs by ensuring optimal energy consumption. New machines have cost-effective engines, LED lights, and an HVAC system to make sure that industrial tools don’t use more energy than they need.
Keeping the internal parts of a machine clean with regular servicing and replacement of filtering components will keep your engine away from harmful contaminants that would force it to burn more fuel to generate the same work output.
Reducing maintenance costs for equipment can be a daunting task, especially if your tools and machine do not receive proper servicing. However, with the tips and strategies described above, equipment managers can greatly reduce maintenance costs without big immediate expenses. Staying true to your servicing tasks is the key to making your tools last long, which means less expenses for new parts and repairs. And of course, equipment maintenance software makes everyone’s lives easier, therefore new instruments and machines will last longer and save you a lot of money in the long run.