Advice from the Top Winter Maintenance Leaders: Extreme Equipment Maintenance and Fleet Management
Scharffbillig says, for example, if there is a problem with a speed sensor, it can either be pulled out and replaced — which may cost about $200 — or the problem can be put off, only to soon see the other components will not function. “Then you’re looking at $1,500 or so instead of a few hundred,” he says. “It ‘s the little things that will keep your equipment running. Big money takes care of itself, little money drives you broke.”
Wash away or wash in corrosion?
The Peter-Paul principle not only applies to equipment maintenance but also to storage. For snowplows, this is particularly important, Scharffbillig says. Although snowplows endure harsh conditions and corrosive materials when going down the road, he says, corrosion is even more of a problem while it’s in storage.
“When it’s being stored, it’s the most corrosive time after you’ve rinsed it down, parked it so it dries, and when the temperature is between 40 and 50 degrees [Fahrenheit],” Scharffbillig points out. “The corrosive material leaches in. You can wash it down really well and use rust inhibitors, but I haven’t found in my 30 plus years in this business of anything that stops it. The chloride water wicks in. Sometimes when [equipment is stored], the protective boots isn’t pushed back and left up to dry. Then it gets corroded there.”
Chloride is most effective on the road in liquid format, Scharffbillig. “We’re putting it on at the most active rate for the road but also most active for corrosion and causing other incidences to components because it gets caught in all the cracks and crevices and causes deterioration.”
To maintain and preserve the equipment — beyond just having a preventive maintenance program — is get make sure the program will be properly implemented, Scharffbillig says.
“You need to get the drivers to buy in and follow the program,” he says. “They need to sweep under the accelerator pedals. Once you get salt and material buildup under the pedal it just sit there. Corrosion is accelerated by the heat from the truck and the water off the boots of the operator creates a environment that is perfect for corrosion. But more than that, it’s a safety issue. The pedal could stick, Scharffbillig says. “In the old square boxes style with cross bracing, if you don’t’ get an operator to clean off chunks of salt and debris, it will eat away at the equipment,” he says. “It’s hard on the bearings and cross members. It’s hard on the feeder chains in hopper bottoms too.”
Common sense doesn’t mean common practice
Some of these inspection points for your equipment fleet may seem like common sense. “If something doesn’t look right, then have it looked at further,” Scharffbillig says. But he notes that it’s surprisingly how many “common sense” points are overlooked or disregarded. “Inspect your brakes, check your tires…,” Scharffbillig says. “It seems like common sense, but if you talk to commercial vehicle inspectors, they’ll tell us they can’t believe what they are beginning to see out there.”
Ignoring easy and common repairs not only sets up an agency or contractor for a heftier repair bill down the road, but it means accepting a liability for its employees but for the traveling public, Scharffbillig says.
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