It’s no secret that the pieces of equipment used in construction firms are expensive, complex, and crucial for completing projects within the stipulated deadlines. Even smaller construction firms have to spend thousands of dollars for the equipment, whereas larger ones spend tens of thousands of dollars, if not millions.
While it may take years for recovering the costs of such equipment, the work can get severely hampered if the equipment isn’t properly installed, used, or maintained. This leads to unplanned equipment downtime, malfunctions, overheating, workplace injuries, and can even cause premature death of the machines. That being said, let’s take a look at how maintenance management helps and some strategies for maintenance management in construction firms.
- Why is maintenance management important for construction firms?
- Ensuring maintenance of construction equipment
- 1. Make an inventory of assets that require maintenance
- 2. Involve both equipment operators and the maintenance team
- 3. Create proper equipment maintenance checklists
- 4. Create, schedule, and assign preventive maintenance tasks
- 5. Leave room for modifications
- 6. Use manufacturers’ manuals, guidelines, and recommendations
- 7. Educate both equipment operators and maintenance technicians
Why is maintenance management important for construction firms?
Maintenance management of the construction equipment brings numerous benefits for the organizations.
Equipment maintenance management can help construction firms:
- Minimize unplanned machine downtime
- Reduce workplace injuries due to malfunctioning machinery
- Plan, schedule, and assign maintenance tasks based on events or periodically
- Manage all the equipment, vendors, and spare parts effectively
- Ensure compliance with regulations
- Prevent disruptions and deliver projects on schedule
- Improve asset longevity
- Reduce repair and replacement costs
- Ensure that the pieces of machinery are performing optimally
All of the above, coupled with robust preventive maintenance planning, can significantly reduce maintenance costs down the line, reduce replacements required, and ensure that the operations at construction sites run smoothly.
With the “why” out of the way, let’s take a look at the ‘how” of maintenance management in construction firms.
Ensuring maintenance of construction equipment
1. Make an inventory of assets that require maintenance
Before diving into maintenance management, organizations need to list all of their equipment. Any given construction firm needs to know what assets it owns, the quantity, their locations, whether they need preventive or reactive maintenance, manufacturer’s guidelines, manuals, work history, and other similar information.
While managers might think they already know this, if they want effective maintenance of the complex and expensive equipment, making a comprehensive list will help in the future.
All of this might seem overwhelming, but it’s the starting point for effective maintenance management for construction firms. Moreover, many tools can help with this (as well as maintenance management) such as an effective CMMS software for construction firms. It can help them digitize, organize, and keep all the information in a centralized location.
2. Involve both equipment operators and the maintenance team
Besides manufacturers, equipment operators and the maintenance team know the most about the equipment. By involving them in the maintenance management process, organizations can identify which equipment needs proactive maintenance, which areas require more attention than others, and which areas might cause problems. Incorporating their feedback and making necessary changes can help create robust maintenance management in construction firms.
3. Create proper equipment maintenance checklists
Creating comprehensive and useful checklists is one of the most important steps for ensuring effective maintenance management. While firms can go for downloadable checklists that are readily available on the internet, a different approach is much more effective.
Since each construction firm is different, checklists need to be customized according to the equipment’s requirements - you can just use the online templates as starting points and modify them as per your needs. Each piece of equipment has different specifications, capacities, requirements, and limitations - they need to be serviced or maintained differently as well.
4. Create, schedule, and assign preventive maintenance tasks
Preventive or preventative maintenance means the same thing - it’s about executing maintenance tasks even before there are issues. This is quite the opposite of reactive maintenance, which means that the equipment is serviced AFTER a problem occurs.
However, more construction firms are shifting towards preventive maintenance as it has numerous benefits like reducing unplanned equipment downtime, preventing workplace injuries, maintaining productivity, and simplifying asset repairs.
Based on checklists and equipment requirements, maintenance managers can simply create, schedule, and assign necessary tasks to the maintenance team members. These can be based on events or routine tasks such as recording fluid levels, cleaning, lubrication, leak inspection, and so on. Moreover, monitoring the progress and following up on these tasks are necessary to verify whether the equipment is working properly.
5. Leave room for modifications
Construction equipment don’t always get the most suitable environment to work in, which is why maintenance management of these particular machines might need changes. For example, construction equipment in sandy areas might need regular changes of air filters. Keep in mind that such modifications will need to be made and they must be addressed swiftly to improve the equipment’s durability.
6. Use manufacturers’ manuals, guidelines, and recommendations
As mentioned before, the manufacturer probably knows the equipment they’ve created better than anyone in a construction firm - it has spent millions of dollars in research and development, after all!
Manufacturers provide a number of manuals and documentation along with the equipment. These have troubleshooting tips, recommendations, maintenance guidelines, installation guides, and more. Since the manufacturer knows what works for their equipment and what doesn’t, incorporating their recommendations into the maintenance management plans of the organization can save numerous costs down the line.
7. Educate both equipment operators and maintenance technicians
A piece of equipment is as good as its operator and how well the person uses it. Using the equipment properly can optimize performance, reduce issues, and create a safer environment. The machine operators must know the ins and outs of the equipment they are handling.
Whether it's a new piece of equipment introduced or a new operator, providing training is a must. Moreover, making such sessions open to those who need a refresher is a good idea as well.
Maintenance technicians need to have even more knowledge - how the machines work, why common problems occur, how to solve them, when they require maintenance, and more. Such crucial information can be conveyed to the relevant maintenance technicians through training sessions.