Higher productivity is the ultimate goal of your preventive maintenance routine, and it’s also the outcome of properly applied preventive maintenance.

The following list summarizes many, but not all, of the important inspection items that lead to world class preventive maintenance. Every equipment operation has its own unique needs. An important part of every preventive maintenance program is to identify those items that are peculiar to your operation.

To get started, identify the machines vital to your cash flow and begin with them.

Remove Water From Fuel

So simple to do, and yet often overlooked, keeping the fuel supply free of water is vital to maintain high performance and to reduce overall repair costs. All machines have provision to drain water from the fuel system. This should be done often.

Equally important is to daily drain condensed moisture from large, onsite fuel tanks.

Inspection of Drive Belts

Drive belts are easy to inspect and replace. They are responsible for keeping the cooling fan turning, as well as powering the alternator. Inspection includes monitoring at what temperature the cooling fan switches on and off. Also important, is to check for air leaks to the mechanism.

Inspection of Coolant Freezing Protection

Insuring adequate freezing protection of engine coolant pays big dividends. Broken blocks and huge repair bills are the result of problems with freezing protection.

Antifreeze coolant compatibility is also vital, as there are many incompatible formulas which must not be mixed with one another.

Inspection of Coolant System Pressure Caps

To prevent boiling of the coolant and poor heat transfer, cooling systems must have pressure caps to maintain pressure. Pressure cap seals degrade over time. Replacement is quick, simple and cost effective.

Inspection of Cooling Fan Drive Mechanism

Most modern machines have thermostatically controlled fan drives. These systems save fuel by insuring that the fan comes on only when needed. If the fan is running too much it will take extra fuel. If it comes on to late however, it can damage the engine. Not only a visual inspection is needed of the system components, but also a “road test” is needed to verify the temperatures at which the fan switches on and off.

Inspection of Oil and Coolant Hoses

Engine failures from faulty hoses are what feed the diesel mechanic’s children. Failure of these simple items can ruin a $25,000 engine in 30 seconds if the machine is working hard. Visual inspection for cracks and chafing is needed, but also the hoses must be pulled and twisted by hand to insure they are soft and supple. Hardened hoses will soon fail.

Inspection of Engine and Machine Electrical Controls

Throttle speed control and proper shifting are vital to safe productive operation of any machine. Control action must be smooth and easy for the operator. Hydraulic controls, too, must move through their full range to adequately control vital machine functions. Many machines also have warning lights and audible alarms such as low air and oil pressure alarms. Monitoring back-up alarms is also vital.

Inspection of Gauges and Instrumentation in the Cab, or on the Operator’s Platform

Insuring oil pressure, coolant temperature, battery voltage and engine speed instrumentation are providing accurate information to the operator is vital to productivity. These functions are easily checked.

Inspection of Mechanical Controls, Levers, Throttle Mechanisms and Hydraulic Control Systems

Moving each control through its full range of motion does not take long and will insure the machine is operating in top form.

Inspection of Brake, Stop, Turn, Clearance and Head Lighting

Safely operating the machine depends on good lighting. Lighting is often the recipient of large amounts of shop time in any operation. Not only must lights work, they must also be kept clean for the sake of adequate brightness.

Inspecting Truck Brakes and Air Systems

Also part of the driver’s daily responsibility, air brakes require constant attention due to moisture that condenses inside the system. Air reservoirs must be drained daily and alcohol injectors replenished with fluid to avoid freezing during winter operation.

Inspecting Wheel Lug Nuts

Another part of the driver’s daily inspection is wheel lug tightness. Loss of wheels from trucks is a considerable cause of fatalities each year.

Cleaning and Inspection of Batteries and Cable Connections

Inspection and maintenance of the batteries and their terminals pays large dividends in productivity and economical operation. Checking the temperature of wiring and cables with an infrared thermometer will help spot excess heat. Excess heat is the tell-tale sigh of high electrical resistance, which is the enemy all things electrical.

Optimize Tire Pressure

Very simple to do, maintaining the right tire pressure will reduce fuel expenditures and extend tire life.

Inspect for Oil and Coolant Leaks

Daily inspection for leaks provides an early warning of impending equipment failures.

Inspect Equipment Trailer Wheel Bearings and Axle Seals

These low tech items are inspected during annual re-packing of the wheel bearings. For equipment trailers with brakes, this is a good time to inspect brakes and their controls in the cab of the truck.

Oil Analysis

All machines have a small amount of wear metals that normally circulate with the oil. When machinery begins to fail however, a much larger amount of these destructive particles begin to circulate in the lubricating oil. By sending oil samples to the lab, the onset of metal wear is found and repairs can be made before extensive repairs are needed.

Partial-Flow Filtration

Then, speaking of metal particles in the oil brings us to the subject partial-flow filtration (also mistakenly called “bypass-filtration”). By adding an extra oil filter to engines and transmissions. This important option works like an insurance policy for the company’s most vital machines.

Inspect Machines from Performance Aspect

Adequate power ensures good productivity. Machine power levels must be monitored daily. Braking power is equally important for safety and productivity.

Inspect Machines from Operator Safety Aspect

Even door latches and the steps upon which people use to get in the machine require inspection. Also included with these are seat belts and harnesses.

Inspect Equipment Mounted Fire Safety Equipment

Fire extinguisher condition, mounting and pressure must be checked to insure availability in time of need.

Battery Maintenance

Consider for a moment, just one area where higher productivity results from preventive maintenance: Batteries.

In 1973 Dick Moffet, Field Service Manager for Wyoming Machinery Company, reported the outcome of a maintenance experiment.

He told the story, as it was reported to him, by the maintenance manager of a large uranium mine in Wyoming’s Shirley basin. The mine had hired a full time person to do nothing but inspect and clean battery terminal connections. They found this effort to be one of the best things done to maintain higher productivity, especially in the cold winter months. The added productivity paid for the extra person on the staff many times over.

Higher productivity, more profitable operation, fewer delays, and safer operators: These are the outcome of good preventive maintenance.

Ben L. Evridge
Pillar Creek Equipment LLC