How to Overcome Common Construction Equipment Maintenance Challenges?

Author

Oded Ran

Oded Ran, CEO and Co-Founder of Clue since 2019, expertly integrates AI and data tools to revolutionize construction equipment management and maintenance, positioning Clue as a premier software choice in the construction industry.

Table of Content

From planning to the execution stages, construction managers deeply understand the complexity of a construction site.

This is especially true for specialized heavy machinery and equipment prone to breakdowns, wear and tear, and malfunctions.

These issues often lead to significant delays in construction projects. As a proactive equipment maintenance manager, you're likely eager to prevent them.

Let's explore common challenges in maintenance and effective strategies to overcome them, ensuring smoother project flow.

maintenance-challenges-image-clue

Source: Construction Equipment

Schedule Preventive Maintenance

Preventive maintenance is a proactive approach to equipment maintenance. Project managers can work with the team to regularly inspect construction equipment to ensure it is in good condition.

Preventive maintenance is a great way to ensure that all your equipment is accounted for and up to date.

Project managers can use construction equipment maintenance software to help them create a checklist of maintenance activities and keep track of them accordingly.

Regular Checkups

Regular inspections, repairs and maintenance activities can help you overcome the challenges in construction.

Through regular checkups and inspections, equipment operators and managers can vastly increase the lifespan of the machinery by fixing issues before they escalate.

Benefits of Preventive Maintenance

benefits-of-preventive-maintenance-image-clue

Source: Campbell Mechanical Services

A few key benefits of preventive maintenance include:

  1. Identifying Potential Issues Early: Maintenance teams can easily spot wear and tear, leaks, or other issues before they worsen through regular inspections. This helps address the problems promptly and minimizes equipment downtime.
  1. Ensuring Equipment Reliability: Project teams can improve routine maintenance tasks by maintaining the equipment according to the manufacturer's guidelines. This enhances the machinery's reliability and ensures project deadlines can be met efficiently.
  1. Enhancing Safety: Preventive maintenance ensures that all equipment's safety features are functional. This helps reduce the risks of accidents or malfunctions that can harm workers or damage property.
  1. Optimizing Performance: Regular servicing ensures that equipment operates at peak performance levels. This process includes maintaining proper engine functions and hydraulic and electric systems, all contributing to efficient project execution.
  1. Extending Service Life: Proper maintenance practices increase equipment lifespan. Construction firms can maximize the return on their equipment investment by addressing minor issues early and preventing major breakdowns.

Adapt to Environmental Conditions

Changing weather conditions like extreme temperatures and storms can severely damage your construction equipment. Therefore, it is necessary to adjust your maintenance practices according to the weather conditions.

Protecting Equipment

To cope with changing environmental conditions, equipment managers must ensure that all machinery is covered with protective coverings when not in use to help prevent damage.

Other steps that managers can take to protect their equipment against environmental concerns include:

  • Regular cleaning and inspection of the equipment
  • Keeping the equipment properly covered when not in use
  • Inspect all the seals and gaskets to ensure they don’t leak or have outside liquids seep in due to weather conditions.
  • Implement a proper drainage system at the construction site so no water gets logged into the site.
  • Control the humidity across the site to ensure heavy machinery is not damaged.
  • Inspect and properly maintain your HVAC systems.
  • Properly train your staff on safety and maintenance protocols to prepare them for bad weather.

Adjusting Maintenance Schedules

In the case of extreme weather or other environmental issues that cannot be anticipated in advance, project managers should ensure that their maintenance schedules are flexible enough to accommodate these changes.

Adjust the maintenance schedules to account for the environmental changes. 

Maintain Cleanliness

Maintaining the cleanliness of construction equipment is crucial for ensuring safety and efficiency on the construction site.

Unclean and messy equipment can lead to bigger challenges in construction management. Consider the following points to understand the importance of keeping equipment clean.

Importance of Cleaning Undercarriages, Engines, and Hydraulic Systems:

  • Undercarriages: Clearing mud and rocks from undercarriages prevents corrosion and maintains proper alignment, reducing wear on tracks and components.
  • Engines: Removing dirt and debris from engine compartments improves cooling efficiency and reduces the risk of overheating. It also allows for early detection of leaks or damaged components.
  • Hydraulic Systems: Keeping hydraulic systems clean ensures smooth operation and reduces the risk of contamination, which can lead to component failures and costly repairs.

Having well-maintained and efficient machinery ensures that the project saves costs on costly repairs and maintenance activities. It also ensures the machinery is more productive due to reduced friction and resistance.

Daily Cleaning Routines

The question arises: How can you keep your construction equipment clean to avoid any equipment maintenance challenges? To make things easier, we have created a brief step-by-step cleaning process that can be followed daily.

  • Excavators: Excavators are among the most used construction equipment, so you should start with them. Start by removing any dirt or debris from their tracks and wheels. You can do this using a powerwasher once a week, or on most days, you can use a bucket. An important area to focus on cleaning is the hydraulic connections.
  • Bulldozers: Start by clearing the mud and debris from the bulldozer’s tracks and undercarriage. Clean the brakes and hydraulic systems regularly to maintain their functionality.
  • Cranes: You want to wash the entire structure, including its boom, jibs, and counterweights. When cleaning, inspect and clean the wire, ropes, and sheaves properly.

Monitor Fluid Levels

Fluids like oil, hydrant fluid, and coolants are essential for ensuring that construction equipment is productive and functional.

The role of these fluids can easily be understood by looking at the following points.

  • Oil: Lubricates moving parts, reduces friction, and dissipates heat. This ensures the smooth operation of engines and transmissions.
  • Hydraulic Fluids: Transmit power in hydraulic systems, enabling equipment functions like lifting, digging, and steering.
  • Coolants: Regulate engine temperature. This prevents overheating and maintains optimal performance.

These fluids are regularly inspected and monitored to ensure the equipment performs properly.

Best Practices for Checking Oil, Hydraulic Fluids, and Coolants

Some of the best practices for checking oil, hydraulic fluids, and coolants include the following steps:

  • Checking and Topping Off Fluids: Regularly inspect fluid levels according to manufacturer guidelines. This should be done before and after heavy use or after specified intervals.
  • Manufacturer Specifications: Follow recommended procedures and guidelines provided by the manufacturer for checking and replenishing fluids to maintain proper levels and concentrations.
  • Using High-Quality Fluids and Filters: Use fluids and filters recommended by the equipment manufacturer to ensure compatibility and optimal performance. Quality fluids help maintain viscosity and protect against wear and corrosion.

Signs of Fluid Contamination

Some common signs of fluid contamination include:

  • A milky texture or color
  • Foaming in the liquid
  • Discoloration
  • Unusual smells

These small factors and changes can accelerate wear and tear on the equipment, leading to corrosion, lack of efficiency, and costly maintenance and repairs.

Inspect for Wear and Tear

Wear and tear is described as the slow deterioration of physical assets over some time. If not inspected and repaired in time, wear and tear can lead to breakdowns in construction equipment.

This minor issue is one of the biggest construction challenges if it is not checked on in time.

Some examples of wear and tear in construction equipment  include:

  • Worn tracks and ball bearings
  • Cracked Tracks
  • Reduced Traction
  • Thick or thin lubricant viscosity

Visual Inspections

Construction equipment is one of a construction company's biggest assets, so it is essential to track and inspect it.

You can easily overcome this common equipment maintenance challenge through regular inspections and monitoring. You can follow this simple checklist to help you conduct your visual inspections.

  1. Inspect the equipment structure
  2. Check the fluid levels and leaks
  3. Inspect the electrical systems
  4. Examining the hydraulic system
  5. Inspect the worn parts and document equipment with worn parts for repairs

Based on your findings, you can create a simple maintenance schedule to help with all the maintenance activities and ensure that you remain proactive.

Replacing Worn Parts

Visually inspect the equipment to determine which worn parts should be replaced. Then, consult your maintenance schedule to see when it is due for maintenance.

Some other steps you can follow include:

  • Refer to the equipment manual to see how many parts will be required for the replacement.
  • Procure the parts through an original equipment manufacturer. This is recommended because it ensures reliable and compatible parts.
  • Technicians and mechanics should prepare for the replacement and carefully remove the worn parts.
  • Install the new parts and inspect them for compatibility.
  • Document your findings and maintain a thorough record of each replacement and piece of equipment.
  • Carefully dispose of the worn-out parts and monitor the new parts for performance.

Train Operators

Training operators to properly use equipment is important for overcoming equipment maintenance challenges in construction. One of the biggest ways you can train operators is to use the equipment to ensure they can use it to its full potential without damage. 

Operator Training Checklist for Equipment Use and Maintenance

Here is a simple checklist format that project managers can use for training operators to properly use equipment and overcome equipment maintenance challenges in construction:

1. Familiarization:

  • Understand specific features, controls, and capabilities of each equipment.
  • Learn the location and operation of safety features and emergency controls.

2. Operational Techniques:

  • Practice all the operational techniques associated with the equipment.
  • Aim to understand the equipment's optimal speeds and load capacities to prevent overloading.

3. Maintenance Procedures:

  • Perform daily inspections before operation.
  • Follow preventive maintenance schedules for regular inspections.

4 Safety Protocols:

  • Wear appropriate safety gear (helmet, gloves, safety glasses, hearing protection).
  • Educate workers on worksite safety protocols. This can include clear communication and hazard awareness.

5. Practical Training:

  • Conducted supervised on-site training for operators to learn about the practical applications of their equipment.

6. Troubleshooting Skills:

  • Help workers develop basic troubleshooting skills to help them identify and address issues.
  • Educate operators on emergency shutdown procedures and response protocols.

7. Continuous Learning and Feedback:

  • Encourage feedback on equipment performance and training effectiveness.
  • Schedule regular training sessions to reinforce best practices.

8. Documentation and Record-Keeping:

  • Maintain accurate records of equipment usage, maintenance activities, and incidents.
  • Monitor performance metrics for improvement.

9. Team Collaboration:

  • Create a culture of collaboration between the operators, supervisory, and maintenance teams. 
  • Encourage cross-training opportunities. This can help with the sharing of knowledge and expertise between teams.

10. Management Support:

  • Allocate the proper resources (time, tools, materials) for training and maintenance.
  • Recognize and reward operators who demonstrate exceptional skills.

Utilize Technology

Technology has empowered construction companies to take a proactive approach to their maintenance activities. 

Software like construction equipment management software can help project managers with their predictive maintenance, which can decrease equipment downtime by 30 to 50%.

Predictive maintenance saves industries $600B annually. This is a big number, considering it is a proactive approach to maintenance.

Telematics and Maintenance Software

Telematics has emerged as a game changer for the construction industry. Project managers can manage and monitor their equipment through GPS tracking, sensors, and connective technologies.

Conversely, maintenance software complements telematics, allowing project managers to monitor and manage equipment maintenance needs. 

Some of the benefits provided by telematics and maintenance software for overcoming equipment maintenance challenges include:

Telematics Maintenance Software
Monitoring equipment health through tracking fuel consumption, hydraulic systems, and engine hours. Allows you to create, assign, and track tasks in real time for timely completion.
Provides analytics that can be used to forecast maintenance and repair needs and plan them accordingly. It gives you the freedom to automate necessary maintenance tasks.
It gives you the freedom to diagnose issues remotely. It allows for analyzing previous equipment data to help you improve your current and future processes.

Investing in excellent equipment management software (e.g., Clue), which offers asset tracking and equipment maintenance in a single pane of glass solution, can help you easily manage and schedule your maintenance activities.

Conclusion

No industry is free of challenges, and the construction industry is no exception. The industry relies heavily on equipment, which requires regular maintenance.

Some of the biggest construction equipment maintenance challenges include a lack of training, awareness, and negligence, which can lead to equipment breakdowns.

Construction managers can easily overcome common equipment maintenance challenges by following our guide and maintaining a predictive maintenance schedule.

FAQs

What are the biggest challenges facing the construction industry?

Some of the biggest challenges being faced by the construction industry include:

  • Labor shortages
  • Occupational safety
  • Cash flow shortages
  • Challenges of sustainable construction
  • Supply chain disruptions
  • Inadequate risk management

What are the seven maintenance strategies?

The seven maintenance strategies include the following:

  • Establish clear objectives
  • Collecting the right data and implementation processes
  • Conduct data analytics and maintain machine learning
  • Condition monitoring and sensor technologies
  • Implement the right equipment management software
  • Build a skilled workforce
  • Establish clear maintenance workflows

Why is maintenance a high-risk activity?

Maintenance activities require the replacement and assembly of parts and machinery, which is prone to human error. These parts can lead to accidents and potentially life-threatening incidents if improperly assembled.

What are the four types of maintenance?

The four types of maintenance include:

  • Preventive maintenance
  • Predictive maintenance
  • Corrective maintenance
  • Condition-based maintenance

What are the two types of failures in maintenance?

The two main types of maintenance failures reported by crew and operators include functional failure, where the machine stops working, and potential failures identified through regular inspections that can occur in the future.

Get a Demo
Apple StoreGoogle Play Store