construction workers in front of equipment
The importance of a robust preventive maintenance plan

Your choice of construction equipment impacts the amount of labor and time required to complete a project. It also significantly impacts the productivity of the jobsite. Consequently, it is vital not only to choose the appropriate construction equipment but also to use and maintain it appropriately. Regardless of whether you need to pave, drill, compress and grade, or excavate and load for your building project, you are obligated to use the apparatus in its intended manner.


Vehicles Used in Construction

Fleet maintenance is vital in construction. Fleet vehicles have the potential to be the most useful items you own and can go thousands of kilometers with appropriate maintenance. Adhering to state and national regulations — in addition to following fleet preventive maintenance schedules — can help keep all vehicles on the road.

Once a month, check the gearbox, brake, wiper and power steering fluid. Also check the condition of the battery cables, belts and hoses.

Every six months or 5,000 miles (whichever comes first), perform the following tasks: lubrication of the chassis, braking system inspection, tire inspection and rotation (depending on the manufacturer’s requirements) and clutch system inspection for manual cars.

Once a year, you should have the underbody cleansed, the coolant system serviced, the throttle control system checked, and the doors, latches, hinges and park brakes lubricated (look over the radiator, water pump, fan belt, thermostats, radiator cap and antifreeze).

At least once every 15,000 miles, the automatic transmission needs a checkup and the transmission fluid and filter need to be changed (if applicable).

After every 30,000 miles, the spark plugs, fuel filter, spark plug wires and engine timing should all be inspected.


Construction Equipment

Construction equipment, including heavy equipment used to move earth and other materials, will have a suggested preventive maintenance schedule provided by the manufacturer at the time of purchase. The schedule should be followed as closely as possible to avoid equipment damage and failure.


Machinery Handling & Storing Equipment

Machine operators know how to operate and start a device, and they are familiar with its preventive maintenance checklist. They are aware of the tasks that need to be accomplished to guarantee the machines function correctly on a
daily basis.

Operators can also recognize problems and point to certain components or subassemblies that may not be operating as they should be. Each piece of machinery will have its own preventive maintenance schedule which correlates to the date of purchase or installation.


Equipment Maintenance Affects Operational Efficiency On-Site


Up to 20% of construction company costs are attributed to construction equipment. Of course, that includes emergency breakdown work orders and parts. If you don’t have replacement parts and rebuild kits on hand in emergency breakdowns, they have to be located and overnighted, costing time and hefty sums of money. Equipment maintenance costs escalate when machines break down and need emergency repairs.

A breakdown of vital construction equipment mid-project can destroy your project timeline and the relationship with your client if the situation isn’t quickly remedied to the client’s satisfaction. Needless to say, this type of pressure combined with a tight schedule can add unnecessary stress to your employees on-site.


Equipment Maintenance Enhances Safety

Unsafe equipment on a construction site can shut down a project quickly if there are injuries or accidents. In addition, missed inspections and unsafe equipment can also be grounds for the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) or a state regulatory agency to shut down a project, causing huge penalties and fines.

Who will eat the cost of those penalties and fines? These costs cannot be billed back to the client. Any safety incidents or recordables will cut directly into the project’s bottom line and any foreseeable profit margin.


Although regular equipment maintenance takes a chunk of time, it’s much more beneficial in the long run. You’ll save time by adhering to the needed protocols and sticking to maintenance schedules, as opposed to spending time on accident-related tasks and negotiation processes with regulatory agencies.


Equipment Maintenance Helps to Control Costs

Emergency parts fees are exorbitant. How will the company justify those costs? You can’t bill emergency parts on equipment breakdowns back to the client. At the end of the day, the bottom line will take another hit under crippled equipment repair costs.

Poorly functioning equipment takes longer to run, and it doesn’t do the job as well. This bleeds over into labor hours, which are another major cost center with any open construction project. In addition, those extra labor hours add stress to employees, which increases the opportunities for accidents and injuries. Overall, if the equipment isn’t functioning as it was intended, productivity is going to suffer.


Take the Surprise Off-Site

It is much simpler to schedule a few hours for preventive maintenance and avoid these scenarios altogether. This will remove the element of surprise and ensure that all equipment on-site is running smoothly and efficiently. With a preventive maintenance program in place and equipment serviced to date, emergency breakdowns will become few and far between.

Your service technicians will give sufficient warning about equipment that has aged to the point of becoming problematic or unreliable in the field. More than likely, they could tell you the hours left in the life of the machinery, and the estimate would be pretty close in a lot of cases.

All equipment has a set life cycle. Once you exceed that life cycle or use the equipment without the proper maintenance strategy, you’re taking your chances with proper operation as well as safe operation on the construction site. It is safer and more sensible to properly plan the maintenance and usage of your equipment and invest in new assets at the end of the current assets’ life cycle.


Managing Construction Equipment Sensibly

In the broadest sense, construction equipment management may be defined as the process of analyzing the effectiveness of your company’s fleet of construction equipment in light of the costs of ongoing projects. You are attempting to strike a balance between the operational expenses of your equipment and the deadlines and revenues resulting from the projects for which you have been contracted.

If you’re in charge of a construction site, you need to know how to make sound financial choices about your machinery to maximize your profits. The ultimate objective is to have the apparatus generate sufficient revenue to cover its own costs and more.