Heavy Machinery is the most expensive construction equipment you own. It’s also the costliest to repair or replace. This guide will show you how to save money and extend the life cycle of your equipment with regular maintenance best practices.
We’ll identify commonly overlooked areas of maintenance, and identify simple things you can do to greatly impact the long-term value of your most vital equipment.
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WHY YOU NEED TO BE PROACTIVE ABOUT MACHINE MAINTENANCE
Being proactive in your heavy equipment maintenance schedule helps prevent expensive downtime. Regular maintenance helps predict when failure is likely to occur, allowing you to find a solution to problems before they happen.
8 SIMPLE STEPS TO MAXIMIZE HEAVY EQUIPMENT MACHINE LIFE
Here are 8 Simple Steps you can begin today to improve the ROI and extend the service life of your construction equipment.
#2 — IDENTIFY MAJOR CAUSES OF MACHINERY BREAKDOWN
Part of an effective PM program is identifying potential causes of machinery breakdown. By identifying potential causes of failure before they occur, you can save hundreds or thousands of dollars and maintain consistent work flows.
There are three types of machinery failure. Their causes and solutions are listed below.
- Sudden failure is when machinery breaks without warning. Usually, the reason is obvious. The part is then fixed or replaced, and the equipment is returned to servie.
- Intermittent failure happens sporadically. This stoppage happens randomly, and it can be difficult to identify the cause. Intermittent failure is frustrating, costly in downtime and usually can be prevented by anticipating the cause and addressing it during maintenance.
- Gradual failure is entirely preventable by doing routine maintenance and inspections. Wearing parts and components are noted to be near the end of their lifespan and are replaced before failure occurs.
Anticipating failure is at the heart of all preventive maintenance programs. Thorough knowledge of your machinery’s systems is the key to anticipating what’s likely to fail if proper maintenance is ignored. Cat Preventive Maintenance Agreements from MacAllister Machinery help you anticipate and predict problems before they leave your equipment inoperable.
#3 — GET TO KNOW YOUR MACHINES INSIDE AND OUT
Thorough product knowledge is invaluable when it comes to implementing an effective preventive maintenance program. Often, gaining this vital information is as simple as finding it in the machine’s equipment manual that has been researched and documented to isolate issues and prescribe the proper preventive maintenance.
Taking the time to read and understand the equipment manual should be a core principle in a PM plan. Manuals will prescribe the recommended service intervals for each component in the machine, what servicing products to use and what the acceptable operating conditions are for the equipment.
Owner’s manuals are also a great source of troubleshooting information. Not only do manuals prescribe maintenance steps and techniques, but they often have bullet-point itemization or flow charts of what to do during malfunctions.
Listen to Your Operators
Another valuable resource for getting to know your machines inside out is to involve the machine operators. Unless you’re on the controls on a daily basis, you’re not likely to have the intimate knowledge of each machine’s idiosyncrasies and quirks. Daily operators get a “feel” for the machine. Operators sense when something’s amiss, and they’ll tell you. Listening to them and appreciating their input is a wise preventive maintenance strategy.
Stop Operations When You Suspect a Problem
Stopping operation and dealing with a suspected problem between scheduled maintenance periods can be an enormous savings in failure costs and subsequent losses.
How to Make an Equipment Maintenance Checklist
The first part of any preventive maintenance checklist should be done from outside the vehicle.
- Lights: If your vehicle has any lights — headlights, brake lights, warning lights, etc. — they should be inspected to ensure they are working properly. Any burned-out bulbs should be replaced.
- Steps, handrails, and grab irons: Ensure all these grab points are secure and that they aren’t rusty or damaged, which could make them dangerous.
- Undercarriage: This is especially important if you work in areas where it snows or your equipment is exposed to salt or road de-icing chemicals. Inspect the undercarriage for signs of rust or damage.
- Brakes: This step has a variety of things you will need to inspect, including the filters, fluid levels, lines and fittings, and the parking brake. If any of these things look like they’re getting ready to fail, it is a good idea to take the equipment off the floor until it can be repaired.
- Electrical lines: Inspect any exposed wires to ensure their insulation is intact.
- Hydraulic lines: Inspect these lines for any signs of leaks that could cause equipment failure.
- Hydraulic oil: The oil that is carried through the hydraulic lines needs to be inspected, too. Look at the oil levels, and check the hoses, cylinders and fittings for any leaks.
- Fuel tank: The cap should be in place on a fuel tank, and the tank itself should be inspected to ensure there are no dents in the metal that could weaken the tank and lead to leaks.
- Lift arms: If the equipment has any lift arms, they should be inspected and checked for rust, leaky hydraulics and other weak points.
- Body: Inspect the body of the equipment for rust, damage or other potential problem points.
- Grease lines: If your equipment has grease lines, check them for leaks.
- Check for leaks: Other places that leaks could occur might be in coolant lines, fuel lines or tires.
- Work tools: For any smaller work tools, make sure to inspect their cutting edge or teeth to see if they need sharpening.
The inspections you do will vary depending on the exact specifications of the machine.
- Wheeled machines: On machines with wheels, you will need to check the tires and make sure the valve stems and the tire tread are in good repair. Make sure the tires are also inflated properly. Rims should be inspected for damage, and lug nuts should all be in place and tight. Axles and drive shafts should also be inspected for damage or rust.
- Tracked machine: For machines with tracks instead of wheels, you will need to inspect the rollers and sprockets in the undercarriage for signs of rust or wear. Idler wheels should also be inspected to ensure they aren’t damaged and that they spin freely. Metal track shoes and links should be inspected for damage. Rubber tracks should be inspected for tension and the tack of the rubber. The torsion axles on these machines should be checked for rust or damage.
INSPECTING THE ENGINE COMPARTMENT
Once the exterior of the machine has been examined, the next step is to look under the hood.
- Fluid levels: Oil, engine coolant and transmission oil levels need to be checked. Any fluids that are lower than their optimum level should be refilled, and the equipment should be checked for obvious leaks.
- Air filter: Check the oil filter to see if it is dirty and needs to be replaced. These filters should be replaced regularly anyway, but a dirty filter can make your engine run poorly.
- Belts and hoses: Belts should be inspected for signs of undue wear. They should be tight on the pulleys, but should not be pulling so hard that the pulleys themselves are damaged. Hoses should be inspected for leaks, and for signs of wear or dry rot.
- Battery connections; Battery terminals should be inspected for signs of corrosion and replaced if they are damaged.
- Covers and guard: Any existing safety covers or finger guards should be inspected to ensure they are in good shape. Any damaged covers should be removed and replaced.
INSPECTING THE CAB
Finally, you will want to inspect the cab of the equipment.
- Outside the cab: Again, inspect any lights in the cab to ensure they’re working. Windows and mirrors should be inspected for clarity and any chips or cracks. Washer fluid levels should be checked, and any windshield wipers should be inspected for wear. Finally, ROPS should be inspected for any undue wear and tear.
- Inside the cab: First, inspect the seat to ensure it is in good working order. Seatbelt installation dates should be checked. Recheck the mirrors and windows from the inside of the cab for any chips or cracks that aren’t visible from the outside. Make sure the pedals move easily and that all lights that are controlled from inside the cab turn on and off smoothly. If you keep a fire extinguisher in your cab, inspect it to ensure it is properly charged and has been inspected recently.
Preventive maintenance can help catch small problems before they become big ones that might completely sideline your equipment. It might take a few extra minutes every day, but it’s worth it in the long run.
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