For many contractors, field service vehicles take on the role of a comic book superhero, swooping in to save the day when parts break and equipment stops. They rely heavily on the field service vehicles to minimize their downtime by fixing their equipment as fast as possible.
As in comic books, superheroes aren't supposed to get sick or injured. The same holds true for field service vehicles. Contractors expect -and need -service trucks to be in working condition and ready to go when they call. That's why it's important that service trucks are properly maintained so they can come to the aid of downed equipment.
In maintaining a field service vehicle, there are several components an operator must inspect, says Tim Worman, commercial vehicle product manager for Iowa Mold Tooling Co., Inc. (IMT). IMT field service vehicles are usually equipped with a body, telescopic crane and compressor. Each component has its own checklist of items that requires routine inspection and servicing.
One of the most visible components of a service truck is its body. The body, which is usually formed with steel, features easy-access drawers, shelves, compartments and other lockable storage areas for carrying all the operator's tools, parts books and other supplies. While operators go in and out of these storage compartments and use the workbench area daily, not everyone stops to notice the condition of the service body.
Worman recommends that operators inspect their service body at least weekly, if not daily, when doing a walk-around inspection before starting their day. They should look for any hydraulic leaks, broken transportation/safety lights, and cracks in the body's structure. They should also get down on their hands and knees to check under the body, to ensure there isn't any plumbing or wiring dragging.
"If a hydraulic leak goes unnoticed, you could potentially have a catastrophic failure and dump all the system oil," he says. "So if you see a leak, react quickly and get it fixed."
Not keeping your service body clean can lead to unsafe working conditions and prevent you from noticing potential maintenance problems. "The dirtier the truck, the less likely you are to see a crack," Worman says. "If you keep it clean and routinely monitor the truck, typically you can get it rectified quickly and prevent future problems."
The most intricate component of a field service vehicle is the crane, which has more than a dozen items that should be inspected daily before operation. The checklist includes inspecting:
While operating, Worman says you should observe the telescopic crane for any abnormal performance or unusual wear, such as loose pins and wire rope damage. If you witness any abnormalities, he says to discontinue use immediately to determine the cause and severity.
Two of the biggest wear items on a telescopic crane are its wear pads and winch cable, Worman says. The winch cable is the most important wear item from a safety standpoint because you don't want it to become frayed and cause an accident.