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Better Safety, Lower Costs and Improved Profit in Just 5 Minutes a Day

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Business Advice

Conduct an Equipment Walk-Around Every Day

Better equipment maintenance = lower repair costs and longer machine life. However, the costs of unnecessary wear and tear are minor when compared to the costs of lost time injuries, lost productivity due to equipment downtime, and lost sales opportunity due to reduced productivity. If one simple step each morning could keep your people safer, save your company money AND increase your sales capacity, you’d have to be crazy not to enforce this simple system in your company.

Every day before starting work, operators should conduct a thorough walk-around of the machine and jobsite. This simple step can help save downtime and money by catching potential problems before they become major repairs. Each machine’s Operation and Maintenance Manual (OMM) is an essential tool for equipment upkeep. Be certain to consult the OMM for specific details, as recommendations vary by model and manufacturer.

First, check the machine for things that aren’t supposed to be there, such as debris caught in the undercarriage, tires or air intake vents.

As they walk around the machine, operators should check for loose belts, broken or damaged parts. Look for oil or coolant leaks. Tighten any loose hardware. Pay special attention to the machine’s access points, be sure that the handrails and steps are in good condition and free of obstructions that could cause someone to trip. Check the fluid levels, and examine the engine for debris, damage, excessive wear and loose hardware as well.

Examine the tracks or tires for potential problems. All-rubber tracks are less susceptible to cuts and tears than those containing steel, but they still should be monitored for damage and excessive wear on the track drive lugs.

Ensure proper track tension – it should not be overly tight or loose. Tracks that are too tight wear more quickly and tracks that are too loose can allow the drive lugs to jump over sprocket rollers causing damage to the drive lugs. New or newly replaced all-rubber tracks may stretch a bit during the first few weeks of use. Check the track tension regularly, but adjust it only when necessary. Consult the operator’s manual for information specific to the track manufacturer. To check the tension, apply the recommended amount of weight to the midpoint of the track to cause it to deflect, then measure the amount of deflection and adjust the tension as needed. Similarly, if operating a machine with air-filled tires, check the air pressure and adjust as needed. Keep in mind that air pressure in a warm shop will change when the machine goes outside to work in colder temperatures. Follow the instructions in the operator’s manual, as recommended pressures vary by manufacturer.

Clean and check all windows in the cab for optimum visibility. In the cab, operators should note the condition of the seat belt and check it thoroughly as they buckle up. Check the dashboard gauges, adjust the mirrors and seat as well.

Operators should also walk around the jobsite and familiarize themselves with the area, especially any changes of slope. Note the underfoot conditions (dry, wet, gravel, ice and so forth). Look for pieces of rebar or scrap metal that could cause damage if the operator were to make a turn on top of them, removing them if possible. Check for sufficient clearance if the job will require working in an enclosure or traveling through a tight space, such as a yard gate. Look for hidden dangers, such as large ruts or plywood covering a hole.

End-of-Day Checklist

Following the manufacturer’s recommended maintenance schedule is extremely important, as overlooking only a couple of these points can lead to lost production and profitability. Operators should not only conduct a pre-work walk-around but also an end-of-day one as well. Always refer to the machine OMM for specific details concerning fluid levels and use the fluids and lubricants recommended by the manufacturer.

Battlefield Equipment operates Cat Rental Stores, and is the Caterpillar dealer for Compact Equipment in Ontario, Manitoba and Newfoundland. For more information on the products, services and Training Programs that Battlefield Equipment provides, call 1-800-RENT-CAT to reach your nearest location.

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