An equipment fleet is the lifeblood of any construction project, so if something breaks down unexpectedly, it can delay every step of the process. With tight deadlines often looming, construction managers often can’t take things offline for long periods for maintenance or repair before they break down.
The best compromise is to build a maintenance schedule that allows them to keep up with equipment needs without negatively impacting the progress they’re making toward goals and deadlines. Here’s what companies need to consider when creating a construction maintenance schedule.
1. Project Schedules
The first thing to look at is the company’s schedule and how much time each project will take to complete. These deadlines are important and should almost always take priority over nearly anything except maintenance. The goal isn’t to rush deadlines because of lost time due to maintenance. Rather, it’s vital to ensure equipment isn’t breaking down mid-project, causing target dates to be missed.
It can also help to consider what stage each project is in and what equipment will be necessary on a given day. The best time to schedule maintenance is when a particular piece of equipment is not needed for a stretch of time. Considering the current schedule will help managers determine the best times to take machines offline without affecting plans.
2. Necessary Maintenance Frequency
Each piece of equipment in a fleet comes with an operator’s manual and a suggested maintenance schedule, courtesy of the manufacturer. This can be a valuable tool for planning upkeep because it creates a baseline to work with. It’s easier to decide when to take something offline for repairs or preventive maintenance.
If companies are leasing their equipment, they may need to stick to the letter of this maintenance schedule to meet the conditions of the lease. This protects the equipment and ensures businesses are in compliance with the leasing office. Even if supervisors want to wait a week or two so the downtime better fits their schedule, they may not have that option.
3. Safety Concerns
A broken-down piece of equipment doesn’t just throw a wrench in the whole schedule. It can also present a safety hazard. According to OSHA, roughly 20% of worker fatalities occurred in the construction industry in 2019. While they aren’t common, catastrophic failures caused by a lack of maintenance can create a safety hazard in the workplace.
Construction managers should keep these potential safety concerns in mind when designing their maintenance schedule. Modern equipment is usually designed with redundancies that break down rather than catastrophically fail. For example, an engine will stop working rather than simply explode. However, there is always a slight possibility that a breakdown could result in on-the-job injuries or fatalities. This may not be the biggest concern when it comes to creating a schedule, but it should always be in the back of the mind.
4. Crews Needed
Does the team include employees who can repair equipment? If workers were assembled purely with construction skills in mind, there likely wouldn’t be anyone with the knowledge or abilities to perform maintenance. If this is the case, management will also need to consider the repair team’s schedule at the worksite or the time spent away if they take the equipment to the shop.
Construction managers can limit the impact this has on the schedule by keeping heavy equipment mechanics on staff or training the entire team to understand the basics of preventive maintenance. Determine whether this is an option within the operating budget and standards.
5. Parts Accessibility
It can be challenging to find replacement parts if something goes wrong with older equipment. Parts accessibility will also play a role in a maintenance schedule. If something breaks down and it will take a week to order and ship a new part, the entire plan will be in jeopardy.
To better manage this consideration, think about upgrading fleet equipment as funds allow. Modern machines will be easier to obtain parts for. Along that same vein, consider building a relationship with a local vendor. They may be able to order and receive items as a distributor faster than individuals or business owners can.
6. Permitting Necessity
This isn’t always a necessity, but for some reasons and under some circumstances, companies may be required to obtain permits for regular equipment maintenance. This is something that will vary dramatically from region to region, so it is essential to understand the permitting necessities and requirements for the operational area.
This is one consideration that won’t always apply to an equipment maintenance schedule but is something that may impact scheduling capabilities. Supervisors should always keep this in mind.
7. Preventive Maintenance Scheduling
Preventive maintenance is easily one of the best ways to keep an equipment fleet running while reducing the risk of breakdowns. One recent study found that regular upkeep could result in an ROI of up to 545%. That makes regular care well worth the expense.
An equipment maintenance schedule should always include time for daily and weekly inspections. Daily checks should be a quick once-over designed to identify problems that might result in breakdowns later and should be addressed. Weekly examinations should be more in-depth and may even include some minor repairs and upkeep, such as oil changes or lubrication.
When it comes to preventing significant downtime, this sort of regular maintenance is the best tool in any fleet owner’s arsenal. Don’t neglect scheduled maintenance, but don’t let small problems creep up and become big ones, either.
Keep Things up and Running
A maintenance schedule can make it infinitely easier to keep a fleet up and running while still tending to the needs of each piece of equipment. Companies that don’t have something in place run the risk of breakdowns and delays that could jeopardize the required timelines. Taking these seven tips into consideration can help construction managers build a balanced schedule that will allow them to maintain each piece in their fleet without jeopardizing their deadlines.