As the old saying goes, “time is money,” and that certainly rings true in today’s forestry market. Machine uptime is crucial, which is why loggers cannot afford to ignore having a disciplined, structured maintenance program in place for key production machines in their fleet. Minimizing all possible opportunities for machine failures through maintenance and inspection reduces the overall opportunity for unscheduled downtime, and increases the likelihood of meeting production levels and schedules. In today’s forestry environment, this is not an option; it is a necessity to remain competitive.
The idea of a structured maintenance program is simple – it means performing the required maintenance at the appropriate time and intervals provided by your manufacturer. It also means scheduling the execution of maintenance during times when downtime is less sensitive to production such as evenings, weekends, or taking advantage of rainy days to further maximize uptime. Where this idea becomes a challenge for loggers is execution. Due to time or cash flow constraints, maintenance is often a second priority to production, but it shouldn’t have to be this way – and the good news is, it doesn’t have to be. With thoughtful machine updates, new technology and dealer support, loggers can feel empowered to worry less about maintenance and focus more on revenue generating activities
Many equipment manufacturers are making maintenance easier than ever before through thoughtful equipment design. Simply put, on today’s models, it takes less time.
Machine designs now include common, easy to access service points that take the time, frustration, and worry out of performing maintenance. The information customers need to execute maintenance occurs both on-board and off-board the machine through quick-reference maintenance decals, supporting detail maintenance references in the operators manual, and extensive on-board and off-board technology tools.
Today’s telematics systems can help you avoid costly downtime and unscheduled repairs. With direct access to real-time information, you can manage maintenance on your machines, watch machine hours and service intervals, understand parts requirements, and access a wealth of other machine health indicators. These capabilities have simplified the maintenance process for owners and operators and have become the new benchmark for proper machine care.
These systems also make it easy for you and your equipment dealer to keep accurate, complete maintenance records and documentation, which can extend the machine life and increase resale or trade-in value.
Consider Items Beyond Equipment
Many customers do not realize financing can cover much more than equipment alone. When speaking with your dealer, think about the other items you will need to pay for in the future. Are you going to need any attachments? Consider including those in your financing package.
Some loggers may not remember that you can also include extended warranties, maintenance packages and insurance under financing packages as well. These offers allow logging contractors to extend the coverage of their machine, or pay for a package that covers regular maintenance needs like oil changes.
When speaking with your dealer, look for options that help you space out payments for other items, thus increasing your monthly cash flow. There may be packages that help you get more bang for your buck, and help to keep your business up and running.
Dealer support is key to any structured maintenance program as they have access to a tremendous amount of information direct from equipment manufacturers. The dealer can educate the operator on required daily checks, how to perform them and the right parts to use all in an effort to maximize uptime. The dealer can also educate the customer on what is required for maintaining major components, including maintenance intervals and proper oil types and volumes for each component. Allowing the dealer to be involved in the maintenance of the machine is a good way to prevent mixing fluids or using the wrong type for certain applications. Using the wrong fluid can cause a breakdown of components in the oil, resulting in a need for more frequent oil changes and potentially premature wear of components. Dealers limit this risk and can help ensure the longevity of your equipment.
Additionally, talk to your dealer about taking fluid samples. From engine oil and coolant to hydraulic oil and fuel, fluid samples can provide great insight and peace of mind. They can help to identify potential problems and avoid unplanned downtime.
While working with your dealer may seem like an extra step in the maintenance process, the reality is that your crew is most profitable when they are in the woods logging. By using the dealer as a supplement for maintenance, you can free up your team to concentrate on the work at hand.
At the end if the day, an appropriately planned and executed maintenance program has a direct impact on machine availability. Maintenance is an investment in machine uptime. It’s the only way to remain competitive in the market.
Any lack of maintenance program, or execution creates only one thing – risk to having the machine available to the operation – and that’s a risk not worth taking.