Three Threats to Profitability Due to Construction Equipment Breakdowns

Equipment must be properly maintained and operated to ensure peak performance on the jobsite or construction companies will pay the price

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Wirtgen America

The familiar saying always goes "if you don't schedule time for maintenance, your equipment will schedule it for you."

Fixing equipment when it goes down unexpectedly will always be more expensive, and more intrusive to your workflow, than preventive or planned maintenance. The cost of the repairs is only part of the story though, and it may not even be the most significant part. Here are three threats to construction profitability if equipment goes down on the jobsite. 

1. Collateral Damage

Picture this. It's a beautiful summer day. Your crew is dialed in after working together all spring, the paver is running smoothly with the roller right behind it, the plant is pumping out the most homogenous mix you have ever seen and you have a line of three dumps waiting to feed that paver the mix to meet your deadline by end of day. The way this is going, you might even make it home for dinner. 

But wait. Suddenly, the auger on the paver stops pushing the mix through the machine to the screed, halting your entire operation. Meanwhile, you have mix cooling, an asphalt plant full of material and a crew without the equipment they need to get the work done and re-open the road.

Disruptions to production on the jobsite like this, idle operators and rental costs incurred to make up for the equipment that is down unexpectedly is all seen as costly  collateral damage which in this case may have been prevented by a properly greased auger bearing. 

2. Unplanned Downtime

On top of this collateral damage, your crew now either doesn't have equipment to complete the work you have on the books, or has to take the time to learn how to operate a rented piece of equipment, slowing productivity. For this reason alone, downtime must be built into this equation to allow for scheduled maintenance and for moving equipment.

The threat to profitability comes from this unplanned downtime, which is defined as the additional hours lost to unexpected or emergency repairs. Construction equipment maintenance experts generally concur that unplanned downtime rates in the range of 20–30 percent are not uncommon in the industry and failure to keep up with preventive maintenance is a leading cause.

3. Disruptive Costs

The third threat to profitability on jobsites when it comes to equipment breakdowns is the cost related to disruptions on jobsites when equipment must be pulled out of production unexpectedly. 

This can be harder to pinpoint, but the impact on production schedules and crews can be substantial. Unplanned downtime where your company is being forced to rent equipment to fulfill your booked work can cost thousands annually. 

How to prevent all of this? Preventative and planned equipment maintenance of course. There is now telematics software on most equipment to help automate the preventive maintenance process and make it more proactive. Also inspect every machine this off-season and make sure you repair or replace any component that is questionable to make it through the 2022 season.

Be diligent with equipment maintenance or pay the price. When paving begins, there's no time for downtime.