When you think about it, the service department is the heart of your rental business. It is there that new life is breathed into old equipment, where broken items are repaired and made new again, where all pieces of equipment find common ground. Just like a heart, your shop never stops working. There is always something coming in, and something going out.
As important as your service department is, have you ever given much thought to how it could be made better? More productive? Safer? Just what do you need to make your shop run like a top?
Perhaps nothing is more frustrating for a service manager than not having the tools needed to do the job at hand. One of the first tools any service department needs is qualified personnel, who are drawn to service departments with modern tools to work with.
The types of equipment needed for your service department will depend on what types of repairs you will be performing. For instance, if you are going to repair electrical equipment, a hi-pot tester and an armature growler are must-haves. They will allow you to ensure the electrical items you are renting are safe and performing as they should.
As a product is returned from rental, it must receive a careful visual examination. "On electrical products, the key inspection areas should be the strain relief, as its failure is the single most likely item to result in an electrocution,"says Marc Sotcher with Sotcher Measurement Inc.
The power cord and plug must be checked with care and the tool itself should be checked for visual defects, missing guards and safety signs. "All electrical tools should then be given an electrical test to verify their safety and performance," Sotcher says. "Following that series of inspections and tests, a product service tag should be filled out, noting the inspections performed and their results. This service tag is important as it provides some liability protection should an accident occur during the next rental."
Sotcher says rental businesses should also have a method for testing the performance of their portable generators. "Generators are a great rental item often used in emergency situations, yet are seldom tested," he says, noting that Sotcher offers a range of generator testers. "When their output is checked, most generators fall far short of their rated output."
To protect expensive power tools, such as large electric breakers, install hi-lo voltage detectors on each one, Sotcher says. "These devices replace the tool's power cord, preventing its use if the voltage is outside of the manufacturer's recommended values," Sotcher says. "This prevents armatures from burning out when the tool is used on too long an extension cord or overloaded portable generator."
Good oil management is key to keeping a clean, well-organized shop. "We see many times that a shop may have bulk tanks and pumps from their oil distributor but do not have a good system for getting used oil from the equipment to the proper used oil storage site," says Aaron Sage of Sage Oil Vac. Equipment such as "Sage Oil Vac models 30080 and 30070V allows shops to vacuum 30 or 60 gallons of used oil directly from the engine crankcase or from the drain pan. These user-friendly carts are mobile and conveniently wheel the used oil over to the off load point."
He adds, "Having the ability to vacuum engine oil and other fluids directly from equipment as opposed to draining and transporting is becoming more prevalent. Some equipment manufacturers are installing auxiliary drains and drain hoses that allow the shop to directly connect to the engine crankcase."
Need a lift?
One piece of equipment that every repair shop needs is quality lifting equipment. Whether it's floor jacks, jack stands or a two-post, in-ground lift, your technicians need a safe, quick way to get under the equipment they will be servicing. Injuries from improperly lifted equipment are not uncommon, and every step you take to avoid an accident is a wise investment.