Last week we were asked by a customer if business is quieter in Winter. We certainly see a small decline in business due to weather-related activities in winter compared to summer, but winter is still a busy time for us in the hire business.
For us, winter is a great time to catch up on a lot of preventative maintenance. While most of our gear still looks good as new, preventative maintenance has become increasingly important as much of our equipment ticks over three years old.
The idea of preventative maintenance is that by carrying out regular maintenance on gear we reduce the lessen the chance of the equipment breaking down. Our plan is to regularly change the bodily fluids and any high-wear parts of most of our machinery before something goes wrong. We tend to work on a six month cycle, or sooner, depending on the use of the equipment. For example, the IHI excavators get a regular oil change every couple of hundred hours and get greased (and cleaned) between ever hire. These units are powered by Yanmar diesels, which have a reputation for lasting in excess of 10,000 hours with regular servicing. We’re happy if they handle 3000 hours use without any issues while out on hire.
We also inspect and check some specific items of equipment regularly, especially our heavy trailers. The parts most likely to wear are brake pads, and it’s easier to pull these out and fit new ones, rather than wait until the pads are worn and braking performance perhaps compromised.
As well as planning the ideal time to carry out preventative maintenance, we also pay a lot of attention to buying the best gear that will last the distance. For instance, our new Cormidi Tracked Barrow is powered by a reliable Honda Petrol motor, but the drive mechanism is fully hydraulic, eliminating any drive belts and components that would tend to wear and fail. Most of our four stroke engines are now either Honda, Subaru or Briggs & Stratton: all three brands have a reputation for going the distance.
Sometimes we don’t always get it right. It’s a personal disappointment when something breaks down when out on hire, even with the best intentions. When something does go wrong, the best we can do is apologise and try and rectify the issue as quickly as possible with the minimal disruption. And think about how to avoid it happening again.