Guest Post: Top 5 Steps to any Equipment Maintenance Program

Top 5 Steps to Any Equipment Maintenance Program

Today’s post is courtesy of Megan R. Nichols

Material handling equipment is an investment. Industrial companies purchase more than 150,000 forklifts each year, but the upfront price is only part of their overall cost. Ongoing maintenance to extend the life and increase the efficiency of your production is also an essential investment.

The longevity of your material handling equipment depends on how well you execute your maintenance plan. Breakdowns and unexpected expenses lower your productivity and decrease return on investment. To help keep your operations running smoothly, here five ways to extend the life of your material handling equipment.

1. Invest in Workforce Training

By hiring a top-quality workforce and training your employees adequately, you’ll be better prepared to maintain and extend your equipment’s useful life.

This process starts by verifying and recording any training and certifications. Improper use will lead to unnecessary wear and tear and a quicker end-of-life for the equipment. Further, as 42% of forklift-related fatalities are the result of tipping vehicles, workplace training is essential to proper use and employee safety. Even if inadequate training or maintenance doesn’t result in injury, it will lead to unnecessary equipment wear. Ensure your employees are vetted and trained by supervisors when working with heavy equipment.

To train your employees on your machinery and any changes to operation protocol, you should provide simple, regular updates concerning operations and safety. Plan to talk to your workers about equipment operations on a schedule, such as every month or every quarter.

Then, managers should supervise equipment operators daily to ensure they follow best practices as defined during training. Address any improper use immediately and provide easily accessible manuals for all equipment operators. Well-trained and managed employees are less likely to abuse the equipment.

2. Conduct Equipment Inspections

The more you know about the many forms of wear on your equipment, the sooner you can respond to issues and establish a smart maintenance schedule. Ensure your employees and supervisors are familiar with manufacturer specifications, and report anything out of the ordinary during a regular equipment inspection.

Early identification of problems, such as signs of wear or age, will allow you to repair or replace a part before it causes an avoidable delay. To do so, visually inspect your material handling equipment before, during and after use. Have regular operators record changes in performance. Check for vibrating belts and gears, high temperatures from poor lubrication or loose bolts. Repair or replace any parts issue that arises before it affects efficiency. Recognizing symptoms early will avoid costly emergency repairs.

3. Understand Your Equipment

By knowing the specifications of your equipment — such as model, brand and machine specifications — you can predict future maintenance needs.

Understanding how your equipment operates is vital to achieving a long service life. Each brand and model may have different instructions and maintenance requirements. Incorporate the specifics from your original equipment manufacturer (OEM). The specifications they provide will ensure you are following the appropriate schedules.

Further, consult your OEM manual or equipment expert to ensure you have the correct parts when making repairs. Depending on the specific machine and part, you may need to follow detailed instructions to avoid harming your equipment. A small inaccuracy can be the cause of a costly failure. Keeping track of parts in regular need of maintenance or replacement will also help you keep track of when maintenance or a replacement is due.

4. Keep Accurate Records

Plan for efficiency by recording data about your material handling equipment. Accurate records will give you a plethora of information so you can respond to needs immediately and effectively.

One of the most useful types of data is the data you collect from your inspection routine. Categorize what needs to be done immediately and what you can defer to the future. Information can include hours of operation, type of work being completed and details about ongoing repairs. This data will help you develop a preventative maintenance schedule.

You also have access to information from employees, supervisors, the OEM and experts in equipment maintenance. Record this information in a clear, easy-to-follow way to develop your plan of action.

5. Develop an Effective Maintenance Schedule

Create a system for your material handling equipment’s maintenance. Planning for preventative and predictive maintenance will extend your machines’ useful life.

Scheduling regular downtown for your equipment will increase the value it provides over the long term, so ongoing inspections and service is crucial. Depending on factors such as truck type, the volume of work and the work conditions, you may plan for service intervals as frequent as every 90 days. You can plan this maintenance during non-peak production times by using a preventative schedule.

It may also be beneficial to consult an expert on specific equipment, since professionals are particularly trained to handle maintenance and repairs for your machine model and parts.

Consulting experts knowledgeable on the make and model, as well as implementing any protocols recommended by the Original Equipment Manufacturer (OEM) will help you develop an effective system for planning inspections and predictive maintenance. With a predictive maintenance plan, you can calculate your equipment life and better retrofit machinery with the latest technology when most cost-effective.

Save Time and Money With Proper Equipment Care

Effective equipment management and maintenance is one of the most significant ways you can cut costs and increase your workforce’s productivity. By implementing a maintenance schedule, understanding your machines’ inner workings and following the other tips outlined above, you can stretch the usefulness of these costly machines to its fullest.

Megan R. Nichols is a technical writer who specializes in industrial and scientific topics. She regularly contributes to sites like American Machinist, Manufacturing Transformation and Industry Today. Megan also publishes weekly on her personal blog, Schooled By Science. Keep up with Megan by following her on Twitter or subscribing to her blog.

Auction Buying Secrets – 7 Rookie Mistakes You Should Never Ever Make

So it’s your first auction and the place is full of people and excitement. The auctioneer is barking out bids, numbers and prices. People all around you are bidding on an item like it’s a long-lost childhood toy. You notice that some item you have just seen in the store sold for a fraction of the store price. A second item comes up and it goes for yet another great bargain. You think, “Wow, this seems like a pretty easy way to get things dirt cheap. Maybe I should bid and get in on the action. How hard can it be anyway…right?”

Wrong!

While great buys can be had at auctions, the opposite is also true. Getting stuck with something that isn’t what you thought it was can (and more often than not, does) happen. Below are some pro tips that you can use to avoid costly mistakes. Following the tips will save you a lot of grief and expense and give you the tools you need to bid like the pros.

#1 – Hidden costs

While auctions provide a means for anyone to find a bargain, it’s important to keep in mind many of the hidden costs often associated with auction buying.

Buyer’s Premium/Commissions

Most, if not all auctions have what is called a buyer’s premium. This is an additional fee that is put on all items sold at an auction. This fee can run anywhere from 10% to 20% of the item’s sell price. This cost is an additional fee that you will be charged for items you buy in addition to the price you bid. Beware – buyer’s premiums can add up very quickly. Auctions can often have different buyer’s premiums for those bidding online and those physically bidding at the auction. Every auction is different so take note of what these costs are and which fees apply to you before you bid.

#2 – Do a detailed inventory and inspection

If I can give you two pieces of advice here – it would be these:

  • Don’t assume all the parts or there.
  • Don’t assume missing parts can be requisitioned or repurchased.

I’ve seen to many rookie bidders thinking they got a great buy only to discover later that the items are no longer in production or the manufacturer is out of business. Do a detailed inspection of items to make sure all necessary items (ie. hardware, parts, controls, manuals etc.) are there. If parts are missing make sure replacements are available and have an idea of what the costs will be to fix, repair or replace what is missing before you bid.

#3 – Taxes & Fees

Depending on the location of the auction, be aware that different states have different rules about what taxes or fees they want you to pay. Some states are nothing some are 6% – 8% or more.

#4 – Remember…there are no “Do-Overs”

What that means is that “What you see is what you get!” and “You buy it, you own it!”

If an item you bid on doesn’t run or isn’t what you thought it was, you have NO RECOURSE later. The auctioneer is not going to give you your money back or allow you to back out of a purchase once you buy it. It is your responsibility to know what it is you are bidding on – NOT the auctioneers. Items purchased thru auctions are inherently sold “as-is, where-is” with no implied guarantee or warrantee.

Caution: Auction bidding is a fast paced game for grown-ups – not victims. At auction, you sign the auction’s terms and agreement paperwork before you are allowed to bid. This agreement is a legally binding contract that says you know what you are doing and what you are bidding on, and you assume all liability to pay for whatever you buy in the condition it is in when you buy it. If you bid on an item thinking it works or runs only to find out later it doesn’t – too bad. In other words – you buy it, you own it.

#5 – Removal Costs

Never forget, unless specifically stated otherwise, everything in an auction is sold “as-is, where-is.” If the equipment you purchased requires dismantling and/or removal, YOU (as its new owner) will be responsible for the disassembly and removal of the item – not the auctioneer or former owner. This can be very expensive.

#6 – Time Costs

Related to removal costs are time costs. There are often very short time frames and/or restraints for removal that you will be responsible to adhere to. Failure to comply with these can result in fines or legal action and even forfeiture of the equipment. The time you have to remove the item can also drastically affect the final sale price you and others may be willing to pay. I have seen time frames for removal that range from the same day as the auction to several weeks or even months. Know when things need to be removed before you bid.

#7 – Transportation

Items to big to move by yourself may require additional people or equipment to move. The auctioneer IS NOT going to do that for you. Don’t bid on items that will require you to hire or requisition additional people unless you know the costs of doing so in advance. With fuel prices on the rise, having to freight items across long distances can be very costly. Again, know and factor in all the costs before you bid.

There you have it – as with any great deal – the devil really is in the details. Please feel free to comment or share other auction tips or tricks in the comments below.

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