Heavy industries such as manufacturing, mining, power generation and general engineering need machinery and equipment to ensure that operations run as smoothly as possible. However, if you don’t take care of your hydraulic lifts, your excavators or your loaders, they’re likely going to break down. Break downs will lead to unplanned downtime, which can then result in significant financial losses. Because of this, it’s vital that workers properly maintain the machinery and equipment that they use at their respective worksites.
To help you keep those machines working, here is a short guide on how to maintain large machinery and equipment.
- Keep daily records
To prevent your machinery from breaking down, you need to be vigilant and look out for signs of improper usage. To help you do this, you should keep daily records of machinery use.
These records will reflect who used a particular piece of equipment at any given time. With this, you can figure out if your equipment is being operated incorrectly and who is responsible for it. Nowadays, there are even GPS-based systems that digitally record the movements of your machinery as well as the details of its operator.
With these records, you will be able to prevent further misuse. It might also let you know who, amongst the employees, requires further training. In the long run, this will help you avoid major breakdowns and reduce unexpected downtime.
- Clean and lubricate
If your machinery is being used daily, it needs to be cleaned at the end of each day. If left unattended, grime, dirt and debris can quickly wear down the mechanical parts of your equipment and cause a slew of operational problems. If you work in an industry where hygiene is paramount (i.e., food processing), having a regular cleaning routine becomes even more important.
Additionally, if you’re working with machinery that uses hydraulic fluid, it’s important that you make sure that the fluid doesn’t get exposed to contaminants. If hydraulic fluid gets exposed to moisture or dirt, it can lead to the corrosion of metal parts and a decline in performance.
Besides cleaning, you also need to check if certain parts need to be lubricated. Mechanical parts that see a lot of movement and metal to metal contact should always have proper lubrication. Without lubrication, your machinery will have to endure a lot of excess friction and heat. This will quickly wear down its mechanical components, which then decreases the overall lifespan of the machine.
- Schedule planned maintenance
Even if you take care of your equipment, its various mechanical parts will still wear down over time. Because of this, you need to schedule for planned downtime. Planned downtime is when all work is stopped so that the machinery can be inspected, repaired, replaced and/or upgraded.
An important part of planned maintenance is knowing when to replace certain components. Even if said components haven’t broken down yet, it’s best to replace them if they’re starting to show signs of significant wear and tear. You will likely need the help of qualified technicians to install the replacement components.
Also, planned maintenance does more than just keep your equipment in working condition. It also ensures the safety of the employees. Indeed, properly maintained machinery is less likely to malfunction and therefore less likely to cause an accident.
Safe Work Australia has a Code of Practice for managing machinery, equipment and appliances risks in the workplace. Unsurprisingly, an important part of this code is regular maintenance and repair. So, to ensure that you’re adhering to government regulations, make sure you schedule for planned downtime.
- Avoid overusing the machinery
It doesn’t matter how big or expensive a piece of machinery is; all machines have their limits. If you go over a vehicle’s weight limit or if a piece of equipment overheats, you’re effectively increasing the chances of a premature breakdown. Not to mention, overuse also makes the machinery more likely to malfunction and cause a workplace accident.
So, if you need to use a machine for a long period of time, be sure to check the manufacturer’s manual for its limitations. If you’re still unsure, consult a qualified technician and get advice on the proper way of using the machine.
- Train the operators
A tool is only as good as its user. If you let an unqualified person use heavy machinery, there’s a high chance that the machine will get misused or, worse, cause personal injuries. If your workplace has dangerous machinery and equipment, it’s important to make sure that all employees are properly trained.
Sometimes, to operate vehicles like forklifts, the employees will need to go through training to get a special licence. In this case, in-house training might not be sufficient. Your employees will likely have to go to another establishment that specialises in training employees to use specific vehicles.
In order to avoid legal trouble, it’s important that your employees’ qualifications are verified before they are allowed to use certain equipment.
Hopefully, this has given you a better understanding of what it takes to maintain heavy machinery. Just like our physical bodies, the tools and equipment that we use need to be maintained in order to last. So, take care of your machinery and equipment and they will be good to you.