Advice from the Top Winter Maintenance Leaders: Extreme Equipment Maintenance and Fleet Management
DeVries says his agency has a regular equipment replacement program, which is common for most agencies. Typically, McHenry County purchases new equipment each year, with the type of equipment purchased based on the number of years or hours it has been operated. “We may keep a road grader for 20 years, but other things like a wood chipper may be replaced more often,” DeVries says. “But we are putting off purchasing any of this equipment.”
The problem, he says, is if a wood chipper or tractor is usually replaced every year, but it’s not being replaced this year — or even next year — the agency will be three years behind with equipment replacement. But that doesn’t mean three wood chippers or tractors will be able to be purchased in one year to make up for the deferred purchase.
“It’s not a huge hit to us right now, but the question is whether we’ll get caught up again with our equipment,” DeVries says. “I’m worried about two years from now. If we still haven’t recovered and have pushed off two, three or four tractors for two years, then it’ll be several tractors we haven’t replaced…and we can’t just go out and buy three tractors in one year. How do you recover? I don’t know if you can. You just adjust.”
Typically, plow trucks are used 10 years on a route and five years as a spare, making the span about 15 years of operation, DeVries notes. “But if you start changing that routine, you start extending how long the trucks are on a route, that starts playing into what you’ve traditionally done. It changes your whole maintenance and replacement routine.”
Delaying replacement, however, doesn’t mean it’s just money in the bank. There still needs to be an investment in maintenance, especially because eliminating/putting off the capital equipment purchases means they have to run longer. And just like a vehicle, the longer it’s kept, the more likely major repairs will need to be done.
“We expect more repair bills this year because we haven’t replaced equipment,” DeVries says. “And I know we’ll have to do more than just preventive repairs. You have to gear yourself up for an impact on your repair budget.”
But sometimes even extreme maintenance and major repairs just won’t cut it. How do you know when it’s not worth the maintenance and the equipment absolutely must be replaced? “You have to look at the value of the equipment and how much it costs to maintain,” DeVries points out. “At some point, it’ll cost you more to maintain it than to replace it. Every agency has a threshold. We look at how many hours there are on a piece of equipment and how long we’ve had it.”
The City of Minneapolis’ Scharffbillig when ownership and maintenance start to cross, it’s “the optimum time” to replace equipment. “Again, it’s the Peter-Paul Principle,” he says. “It’s pay now or pay later.”
MORE FROM Applications & Innovations
- Sydney uses water curtains to alert drivers to stop (VIDEO)807 Views
- Obama signs memorandum to expedite infrastructure projects603 Views
- Florida’s Red Light Camera Game: G R E E N orange R E D289 Views
- Big four cellphone companies jointly launch anti-texting campaign267 Views
- Acceptance of connected vehicles depends on cost, LaHood says265 Views