Take a Break for Scheduled Maintenace

Follow these four steps to put a plan in place for regular scheduled maintenance breaks.

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Caterpillar

Don’t worry — this isn’t another article about how critical routine maintenance is to keeping equipment up, running and earning you money. You already know that. But maybe you struggle to find time to fit preventive maintenance into your busy workday. If so, you’re not alone. How do operations that take regular scheduled maintenance breaks do it? They have a plan, and it usually involves these four steps.

First, define what is included

Before you can perform maintenance on schedule, you have to determine exactly what tasks need to occur. Most preventive maintenance programs include three elements:

  • Mandatory service tasks like lubrication, oil and filter changes, and fluid analysis
  • Visual inspections, including daily walkarounds and other more detailed checkups
  • Proactive replacement of parts showing wear or reaching the end of their anticipated life

Second, identify who is responsible

Once you know what maintenance needs to be done, the next step is to assign someone to oversee it. In a small operation, that might be owner. In a larger company, the task often falls to the fleet manager, service manager or lead mechanic. The best choice is someone who knows the equipment, has a vested interest in seeing maintenance completed on time and is given the authority to make it happen.

Third, determine when the work gets done

Now we get to the “when” — and here’s where technology can really help you out. The old-school way of scheduling was to check your machine’s operation and maintenance manual, note the different maintenance milestones (like changing oil at 250 hours) and write those down in a maintenance log or on a calendar. That method can still work, but it takes time and makes it easy to miss certain tasks.

Instead, why not use the tools available to schedule and track maintenance — and even to complete inspections — electronically? These telematic platforms and apps, many of them free, work with the telematics system on your machine to pull data on service hours and usage, then alert you when maintenance is due. Most let you schedule tasks proactively, download checklists to ensure the job gets done right, order any necessary parts online and mark maintenance complete so you stay on schedule for next time.

Fourth, document what tasks were performed

Before you get back to work, remember the important final step: documentation. Here again, electronic tools make this process faster and easier. The same telematics platform or app you used above will also keep a record of every maintenance task, inspection and fluid analysis you complete — no paperwork required.

Why does that matter? Not only does recordkeeping help you stay on schedule and avoid missing or duplicating maintenance, but it also builds a pattern of equipment behavior, which you can use to predict problems in similar machines. Plus, proving you’ve regularly performed preventive maintenance on schedule helps boost a machine’s value at resale.

There’s no time in a busy workday for downtime. That’s why preventive maintenance is so important. These four steps will help you make sure the right maintenance gets on the schedule at the right time — and gets done right.

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