By Joe Grycko, Pacific Power Group Industrial Engine Division
Your machines and workers are the lifeblood of your logging operation. Whether you’re yarding, skidding, or shoveling, getting the most value from your equipment can help your logging operation run more efficiently and add more to your bottom line.
Here are a few practices to consider that will lengthen the life of your logging equipment or improve its performance.
1. Plan a Detailed Survey ofYour Equipment
While you’re an expert at operating your equipment, do you really know how your typical day-to-day operations affect the inner workings of your machinery? Planning regular surveys of your equipment can give you a better understanding of how different landscapes and activities affect your machinery, help you plan for necessary service downtime, and prevent larger service issues.
Once you have a better understanding of the current state of your equipment, you can take steps to mitigate any issues you find and be on a path to maximize the life of your equipment. In every field, the cost of downtime far outweighs the cost of a good preventative maintenance plan. While you can’t prevent every issue, you shouldn’t let preventable issues stop your workday.
When conducting an equipment survey, it’s vital to use a checklist to ensure that all parts of your machinery have been reviewed and checked over for wear and tear or major malfunctions. Make sure to include all hydraulics, the transmission, and engine components.
Use the first survey as a baseline to plan how often you’ll need to conduct surveys in the future.
Choose a regular interval to survey your equipment that you can commit to, which works with your operation and your equipment manufacturer’s recommendations.
2. Make an Effective Service Plan and Stock Key Parts
The most important part of making an effective service plan that will extend the life of your logging equipment is to be proactive. Instead of reacting to issues as they occur in the field, planning for regular maintenance such as fluid analysis and engine diagnostics can help you eliminate downtime and increase the amount of productive hours you get with each piece of equipment.
Your plan should be based on your particular equipment, how easy it is to service, and the cost versus benefit associated with servicing. In the long run, preventative maintenance on your machinery can add significant dollars to your bottom line. A local OEM or engine service dealer can also help you develop an ongoing maintenance plan for your equipment or answer any questions you have about servicing a particular piece of equipment.
Here are a few tips that can help your service plan be more effective:
Educate your workers. Teach them to look for key factors that indicate your equipment may be in need of service. This could be signs of lower performance, particular sounds, or lower fuel efficiency.
Plan ahead. Scheduling maintenance for power and hydraulic systems will keep those systems working more effectively.
Make an individual service plan for each piece of equipment. You know how your equipment functions in your daily work environment better than anyone else. If there’s one piece of machinery that is used more frequently than other equipment on your jobsites or for longer hours, you may need to step up the service frequency for that piece of equipment.
Consider an outsourced service provider. To maximize the efficiency of your workforce, an outsourced maintenance provider may be a good solution. Using factory certified technicians and state-of-the-art equipment can ensure maintenance is completed at regular intervals and to factory standards, and helps keep you in line with your warranty.
To increase your service plan’s effectiveness, one option is to stock key parts. For minor issues, having a stock of critical parts on hand can allow your team to make a quick fix. When your machinery has a serious malfunction, having parts available can have a large effect on your downtime and service costs.
“Most service providers simply cannot stock parts for all unique applications of each piece of machinery. We coach customers to stock a few key parts so that during emergency situations, our field techs are able to service equipment much faster and save our customers significant cost,” said Dan Miller, Off-Highway Field Service Manager at Pacific Power Group. “By stocking a few important parts, you can take better advantage of your service providers and get your equipment up and running faster.”
3. Repower for Better Performance
After years of successful service, your forestry machinery might be a little tired and less efficient — but still generally in good shape. Repowering with a remanufactured engine and refurbishing your equipment can help give your machinery years of additional life.
A few factors to consider when thinking about an equipment repower:
Consult your engine manufacturer, dealer, or distributor for compliance with the EPA regarding the use of a remanufactured or new engine in an equipment repower. In many cases you may be able to use an engine that requires little or no change to your equipment support systems.
Reman (remanufactured) engines are typically updated with the latest engine technologies and have been rebuilt to make them nearly as good as new, while offering significant cost savings. Reman engines such as those made by Detroit Diesel can improve your equipment’s performance and dependability in the field, plus increase the service life. They can also help your equipment operate safely and more reliably, with better fuel economy.
Making these practices a priority in your equipment program can help you extend the life of your equipment and see greater value for years to come.
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