It doesn’t matter how rugged or durable a machine is, extreme conditions can cause a host of problems. That’s especially true during the hot and humid summer months, when heat can put an inordinate amount of strain on heavy and compact equipment. It’s important, then, to ensure all equipment is properly serviced to keep it running optimally, even through extreme temperatures.
Equipment overheating can cause many problems, like declining productivity, decreasing profits and output, and missed deadlines. Fortunately, proactive measures can help prevent overheating, which also mitigate breakdowns and equipment failure. Here are some common and useful tips to prevent overheating in compact equipment.
1. Deploy Preventive Maintenance
Regular maintenance is critical, but it’s best to take a preventive approach, which means servicing equipment before problems occur. Many practices employ reactive maintenance, which involves fixing problems, errors, and other issues after they have been flagged or identified. This is a poor strategy because, by the time problems arise, they may have contributed to other complications, and they can also result in long-term delays and failures. Developing a service program that has a proper checklist and accountability ensures everyone on the team is doing what they need to, and that the compact equipment is being actively maintained.
2. Establish Application Guidelines
Using the right equipment for the right job is important and, when it comes to compact equipment, it needs to be handled appropriately. Each component or attachment has an intended purpose and using the equipment beyond those actions can put extra wear on the equipment or increase the risk of damage. It’s up to the management team to establish a clear set of guidelines or rules for usability and to brief the rest of the team on those limitations. Compact equipment should not be used for anything other than the intended purpose and should only be deployed under the correct conditions. That also means discouraging the use of company equipment for personal projects.
3. Always Top-Up Fluids
Coolant checks are necessary, but all fluids should be checked before use, not just the more obvious ones. That includes fuel, oil, lubricants, and sometimes even seals — even if they’re not liquids. Equipment overheating can happen because fluids are not well maintained, but other factors can play a role, too. Some hardware may utilize less durable seals or components that can break down over time. When certain fluids like lubricants are not applied as much as they should be, the related components wear faster and are more likely to fail.
4. Store Equipment Appropriately
It’s a little more obvious to think about proper storage during the cold months because the extreme cold can also break down or damage equipment. But the same is true of hotter temperatures, especially in garages, sheds, and other non-ventilated shelters. If the equipment is out in the open, it should either be protected or covered, and at the least, it should be shielded from the sun. If it’s in a particularly hot building or structure, one might consider installing cooling fans and proper ventilation. Summer rain can also be a problem, as the rapid heating and cooling may damage equipment or components faster. Rust and corrosion are additional concerns that stem from moist and humid environments. Hardware should always be protected from the elements, whatever they may be.
5. Monitor Temperatures During Use
Even the most basic compact equipment is outfitted with temperature and performance gauges. These are great for a base level of analysis, but it may be necessary to consider something more advanced, like an IoT sensor. Smart sensors can provide real-time data about performance, conditions, and much more. It’s an ideal way to monitor temperatures, and it’s even possible to monitor stats remotely.
During operation, the sensors can be configured to sound alerts or send notifications when various limits are reached. For example, if the equipment begins to show signs of overheating and temperatures pass a certain threshold, the sensor can send mobile or app-based alerts to various parties, including the operators and site managers. That would allow ample time to shut down the system or give the equipment a short break, lowering temperatures and preserving its performance.
6. Swap Between Systems
Chances are good that teams have more than one piece of compact equipment, especially on a big job. Even if that’s not the case, it may be appropriate to plan for something like that in the future by keeping backups at the ready. Swapping between devices or hardware every so often can ensure the equipment is not being overused and doesn’t have a chance to overheat or break down. Of course, this may be challenging with expensive or rare equipment, so it’s best to plan for system swaps on a case-by-case basis. Still, it’s definitely something that can help cut down on equipment overheating problems and makes a huge difference during long, strenuous projects or tasks.
7. Clean and Clear Debris
Preparing the job site before a task is crucial, and may be the difference between a smooth and productive day, versus one rife with problems and delays. But it’s also something that should be done regularly throughout the scope of a project. And not just for the environment or the project site, but the equipment as well. Dust, dirt, debris, and other particles may be causing performance issues, clogging up cooling vents, slowing down fans, and sometimes even creating electrical problems. It’s a simple fix, but there should always be time during the day, and throughout a project, to properly vet and clean the site, tools, compact equipment, and other hardware.
8. Keep the Routine
What’s important, even with years upon years of experience in the field, is that teams keep up these important routines. Preventive maintenance is critical, as is topping up fluids and other replaceable parts. Beyond that, equipment should always be used for its intended purpose only, it should be stored properly and safely, and it should be cleaned regularly even during tasks. One might also consider doing a system swap to give heavily used equipment a rest and keep it in tip-top shape, or installing IoT sensors to accurately monitor performance and stats.
By doing all of these things, and continuing to go through the motions regularly, equipment overheating will become less common and the gear will last much longer to boot.
Emily Newton is the Editor-in-Chief of Revolutionized.