“In theory, everyone knows that preventive maintenance is the key to keeping aerial equipment running at peak efficiency and to getting a better return on invested capital,” says Chad Hislop, Genie’s senior director of product management, Terex AWP.
But Hislop points out that in practice, preventive maintenance routines are often postponed, or even neglected, in order to increase asset utilization or rental opportunities. Following are his tips on preventive maintenance:
The reality is that performing routine maintenance tasks can save a lot of money. Most regular maintenance tasks can be handled in-house, by anyone experienced in MEWPs and familiar with a machine’s particular sounds and performance.
Preventive maintenance is a commitment that needs to be made before, during, and after every job and rental. The maintenance tasks should be simple and easy to follow, yet provide attention to detail—it is easier to deal with things little by little rather than have something fail and face the consequences.
For example, before a MEWP goes out on a job site, it is important to check the water levels in the battery. The condition of the battery is directly linked to the life and longevity of the machine. It is also important to check the oil and coolant levels.
The next step is to walk around the machine, checking for leaks and making sure all the machine’s systems are lubricated and functioning properly—have a grease gun handy to lubricate the systems if necessary.
While completing the visual inspection, be sure to also check:
• Tire wear and condition
• Fastener tightness
• Measurements of the wear pads
• Hose and wiring routing for chaffing
• Component cover latches and hinges
• Decal legibility
• Cable track integrity
• Banjo keeper bolt integrity.
At the end of a project, it is important to wash down the entire unit, including underneath the machine—removing any dirt, dust, sand, or other job site material that can accumulate and contaminate the machine—and lubricate again, according to the manufacturer’s lubrication plan.
During this process, do a visual check for any external or internal damage, repairing and replacing as necessary. This is a good time to take care of paint touch-ups.
Good operating condition and extended life expectancy of aerial work platforms are largely influenced by regular care and maintenance. This goes beyond the daily care and feeding of the machine’s systems, it also includes longer-term attention.
Every six months, owners, operators, and service technicians need to have an open discussion about how the equipment is being used day in and day out, as well as how it’s performing in the field. Also at this point, look at the maintenance records to spot any patterns; it is important to look at what components are failing and to determine why, how, and when they failed.
It is also important to know which components are holding up over time and to analyze those trends. Too often, the little things can be an indication of larger problems. These warning signs should never be ignored.
Some, or all, of these maintenance tasks will affect the residual value and on-the-job performance of the machine, as well as will influence perceptions of your business and equipment.