Construction Equipment Management: The Ultimate Guide

Your heavy equipment is indispensable to your company. You need it to complete projects, and optimizing its use can help you finish jobs faster. One of the best ways to monitor your machinery's usage and your fleet's effectiveness is heavy construction equipment management. This kind of management helps you plan out your fleet's usage over the year, reduce expenses, invest in the right equipment and keep machinery running well. Learn more about what construction equipment management is and how you can get the most out of it to improve your fleet.

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What Is Construction Equipment Management?

Construction equipment management refers to a company's ability to evaluate their construction equipment fleet and the fleet's costs on a consistent basis. Construction equipment management also involves taking a company's evaluation of their fleet and comparing it against their current projects. With this information, a business can strike a healthy balance between the expenses and use of the equipment and the time and income generated from projects.

Construction equipment management helps managers evaluate their equipment and make decisions about it, such as if they should upgrade to a better option or sell a piece of equipment that is no longer being used. A good management system will also assist with identifying ways you can better protect and store your equipment. With strong construction equipment management practices in place, a company can maximize their equipment's value while minimizing equipment expenses.

Most equipment will pay itself off over time, making more money for your company than what you originally paid for it. Construction equipment management evaluates the cost of owning equipment — including expenses associated with storing, using and maintaining the machine — to track and identify equipment break-even points. In their evaluation, managers can tell how many operational or idle costs their company is experiencing.

Tips for Construction Equipment Management

As you attempt to improve the management of your construction equipment, you can incorporate a few actions into your system to keep your equipment running well and expenses low. Find out more about some of the top tips for effective constructive equipment management below:

1. Store Your Equipment Properly

Storing your equipment improperly can lead to equipment breaking down early, forcing you to make repairs more often. Part of any effective equipment management strategy should be keeping your equipment well maintained and free from damage. One of the ways to accomplish this goal is to store the equipment properly.

While heavy construction equipment is designed to work outdoors in tough conditions, it still needs to be stored correctly when not in use. Rusting due to damp weather can occur, especially when the equipment isn't in use and is left in a possibly harmful environment. To keep rust from forming on your equipment, ensure your equipment is stored in a location where it's dry and shielded from the elements.

If you store your equipment outdoors, covers designed for storage can be a good investment to better protect your machines. The coverings can shield the equipment from the elements over extended periods. If you have storage facilities, you can keep your equipment even safer when it needs storage, but you'll have to factor in the costs of these facilities. For those with facilities, it's best practice to factor facility expenses into your overall equipment costs.

It's also crucial to store coolants and diesel fuel in the right conditions. When storing them, ensure there's no debris, dust or water nearby, as they can contaminate the liquids. Contaminants in your coolant and fuel can cause technical issues in your equipment, as well as degrade equipment's structural integrity. Keep your fuel and coolant separated from possible contaminants in secure containers and locations.

As a result of proper storage, you can reduce your repair and replacement part expenses. You can also get more life out of your equipment and ensure it holds its value longer — giving you the ability to sell it for more if you want to replace it with something else.

2. Create Rules and Guidelines

Creating rules and guidelines for your equipment is another way you can ensure your staff doesn't engage in practices that could harm the equipment or shorten its life span. Rules and guidelines can also ensure staff are using equipment in the most efficient way possible and getting the most value out of it.

Do your research on the equipment, paying special attention to the safety practices recommended for the machinery. Manufacturer manuals and online guides can also give you information on proper equipment usage. You can do further research by speaking to more experienced operators and looking for credible tips online.

You can also review the correct storage procedures and regular maintenance schedules for the different equipment in your fleet. Knowing this information can help you craft guidelines to keep your equipment running for a long time. The equipment manufacturer should provide all the information you need to know about when certain preventative maintenance procedures should be performed.

Once you've done your research and learned more about how to best utilize your construction equipment, you can create a set of rules and guidelines for operators to follow. After drawing up the rules, communicate them to staff members so everyone is on the same page. The rules can help your equipment be better maintained, improve your equipment's efficiency and prevent mistakes from occuring.

3. Monitor Your Equipment

Keeping your fleet running in top condition is a major priority of heavy construction equipment management. One way to keep your fleet running without unexpected breakdowns or other issues is to monitor the condition of your machinery. While there are likely many different types of machines in your fleet, there are a few common red flags ranging across most equipment types, including:

  • Improper or blotchy grease fittings
  • Low coolant and fuel levels
  • Dirty air filters
  • Hairline cracks forming on the frame and welds
  • Cracks in the windshield
  • Worn tread, tires and tracks

Conducting regular inspections for these warnings signs can help you catch dangers early on before they can do major damage to your equipment. As soon as someone notices one of these warning signs, your company can take action immediately to make the repairs. While there are some costs to making these repairs, you can save money in the long run by avoiding having to make even more extensive and expensive repairs in the future.

4. Seek Dealer Assistance

A good heavy construction equipment management system often has a policy in place that identifies a dealer or the original manufacturer as the party that conducts repairs on damaged equipment. Though some of your staff may know how to make repairs, a dealer's knowledge of their equipment can't be beaten. The extra knowledge and expertise they provide ensure your equipment gets the best service and repairs available.

By getting dealers to make repairs, you can also better project your costs. When you go to an unreliable source of repairs, there's a higher chance they don't complete the repair properly. Improper repairs can cause even larger maintenance issues to pop up in the future and raise your repair expenses. As a result, you can better manage the costs and condition of your fleet by seeking dealer assistance instead of making the repairs yourself or outsourcing them to a third party.

One great example of dealer assistance is Cat® dealership support. The support team at Caterpillar can help you find the exact machinery to add to your fleet. Once you've purchased Cat equipment, our support team can assist with providing maintenance services and repairs for the machinery. Cat support technicians can perform the needed repairs. If you prefer to conduct simple repairs in-house, we can provide genuine Cat parts, resources and manuals to help you do it yourself.

5. Ensure Consistent Maintenance

Conducting preventative maintenance is one of the best things you can do to keep your equipment in the best condition possible. Start by assigning staff members to conduct regular equipment inspections to check for warning signs and other potential issues specific to the type of machine. There should be daily checks for cracks, looseness, the loss of essential parts, tire pressure, oil piping leaks and fluid levels.

It's also a good idea to put routine maintenance requirements on the schedule to ensure they are remembered and completed on time. For example, brake replacements and oil changes are common routine maintenance actions equipment needs to run well. Ensure your staff schedules these changes and replacements. When conducting these routine procedures, make sure to follow the technical specifications provided by the manufacturer.

While there are usually recommended times for routine part maintenance, you may want to adjust them if you're working in an area with harsher conditions than normal. For instance, a company that uses equipment in exceptionally dusty environments may want to replace their air filters more often than the manufacturer's recommendations.

6. Use Downtime Effectively

Another great feature of focusing on equipment management is the ability to better use your downtime. With a greater understanding of your equipment, you can be in a better position to make the most of times when there seems like there's nothing to do.

During downtime, a company with good construction equipment management practices can take care of preparing and handling documents they may have been putting off. They can also prepare for upcoming jobs by thinking proactively and moving equipment to an area closer to the next work site to save time in the future. Downtime can be used to do additional inspections and checks on equipment to make sure it's running at peak condition.

Companies can also use downtime to order replacement parts for their equipment. They can even use the time to purchase upgrades or attachments that can help operators finish tasks more efficiently. If there are any training courses operators can accomplish to become certified in a piece of equipment or learn how to use it more effectively, downtime is a great time for training.

7. Make It Easy for Staff to Exchange Information

Construction equipment management is a team effort. When you're trying to keep track of your equipment's financial status or overall condition, management may not be the first people to know important details. Instead, workers who are on the ground and using the equipment every day will be the ones likely to spot issues with a piece of equipment.

As soon as staff spot an issue, it's essential they have a system for communicating the information to the needed parties. The best heavy construction equipment management systems will have a communication plan that shows employees how they should share different issues and who they should be sending the information to.

With a communication plan in place, your company can be better prepared to handle unexpected damages or repairs. Ordering replacement parts and making repairs can take time. A fast exchange of information allows a company to act on issues immediately, so there's little or no downtime. A fast exchange of information also makes it possible for everyone to be aware of equipment damage and prevents people from making the problem worse by using equipment unknowingly while it's damaged.

Staff should also have an easy way to communicate information related to the finances of your company, such as delays in current projects, the costs of needed replacement parts and outdated or improper equipment causing damages or slowdowns at work sites. A delay in a project can keep a piece of equipment on a job site longer, preventing it from moving on to the next task. This slowdown can lead to lost income and dissatisfied clients, so it's crucial for staff to communicate relevant info to management.

Alongside the financial benefits of being aware of project delays, you can also reduce the chance of paying overtime. An unexpected breakdown at a work site can lead to staff having to work extra to get the project up and running again or relying on inefficient methods to complete a job in time. A communication system allows companies to make repairs faster and reduce the extra financial costs from paying overtime.

8. Keep Track of Equipment Capacity and Compatibility

Being aware of your equipment capacity is a critical element of heavy construction equipment management. Equipment is specifically designed to handle certain load sizes. If you try to lift too much weight or conduct tasks the equipment's not designed for, it's more likely your equipment will become damaged and need repairs more often. Damages due to overloaded equipment can result in increased repair costs and delayed projects.

It's also a good idea to pay attention to which spare parts and attachments are compatible with the equipment. Trying to use incompatible attachments or spare parts can damage the construction equipment. Even if using incompatible parts or overloading your equipment doesn't cause your machine to break down, it can make your machine run less efficiently. It can also lead to failures in the equipment, which could injure operators or other staff working close by.

Part of equipment management is making sure you follow manufacturer recommendations for spare parts, attachments and equipment capacity. Ensure this information is readily available to staff and that management takes the time to communicate the importance of not overloading equipment.


Questions to Ask for More Effective Heavy Construction Equipment Management

Construction equipment management is about asking the right questions. The right questions can give you a better understanding of your fleet's capabilities and your ability to fulfill your company's goals. Answering the questions honestly can prepare you to take on any challenge and optimize your machinery's usage. Ask the following questions to get more out of your heavy equipment fleet:

1. What Equipment Do You Need for Projects?

By examining the projects you have slated for the year, you can figure out if you have a fleet ready to handle upcoming work. If you find you don't have the required equipment, you'll have the time to rent or buy the appropriate machines.

If you're looking to expand your services to new types of clients or projects, evaluating your equipment can show you what machinery you'll need to invest in for new projects. You may also find some of your equipment is becoming outdated. This gives you the time to sell outdated machines and acquire updated pieces of machinery without slowing down your workload.

2. Should You Rent Equipment?

Renting equipment is a great decision for many companies. You may have a project that requires a piece of equipment you do not currently have in your fleet. Rental equipment can get you the machine on time and at a lower cost. You can simply rent it for the project you require and return it once you're done using it.

You can also pick from a huge inventory of equipment, making it so you always have the needed technology and features required for your jobs. You do not have to commit to a long-term investment when you rent, and you also don't have to worry about equipment upkeep, which reduces the chances you have unexpected expenses.

3. What Are the Operating and Transportation Costs of Your Equipment?

Transporting and operating your equipment is going to come with some expenses. Ensure you factor these costs into your budget to make sure you don't overextend your company's finances or have unexpected expenses.

4. How Can You Make the Most of Your Construction Equipment?

Get the most out of your equipment's performance by looking at what the construction machinery can do and where it's needed. By examining the equipment and its capabilities, you can adjust how it's being used to get more performance out of it.

For instance, you may find you can get more out of a machine by using an attachment to perform a task you once needed another machine to perform, thus reducing how many machines you need at a work site. Evaluating your fleet's capabilities can help you get more done with less equipment, while also freeing up machines for other jobs.

5. What Preventative Maintenance Should You Perform?

Review your fleet and see what kinds of preventative maintenance the equipment needs to stay in top condition. After reviewing your fleet and looking at its requirements, you can communicate the needed maintenance to your staff. You can also add maintenance to your staff's schedule to ensure they have enough time to perform the tasks correctly.

Rent Equipment From The Cat® Rental Store

The many benefits of renting equipment — such as lower investment costs, fewer upkeep expenses, large inventory selection and the ability to add equipment to specific projects — make it an exceptional decision for companies looking to improve their construction equipment management. The Cat Rental Store offers helpful support, a wide variety of equipment and high-performance machines.

Browse our selection of rental equipment to find machinery for your needs. If you have any questions or are ready to rent a piece of equipment, reach out to your local dealer today.

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