Getting the best functionality out of heavy construction equipment is a difficult task. The pieces themselves have a well-deserved reputation of being high-stakes investments. The cost output is enormous, and because of this there is an expectation that the equipment will turn a profit greater than its expense. That's true of any business of course, but in the construction industry that issue is magnified by the complex and cumbersome nature of the gear involved which results in construction company owners and equipment procurement specialists to be proactive in getting the most out of these pricey tools of the trade. Efficiency in the use of equipment is essential but can be a truly overwhelming task. Here are three basic guidelines to getting the most from the equipment you need.
Prioritize Safety Features
Far and away the most important thing to remember when optimizing construction equipment is safety. Most construction worker deaths are caused by just a few kinds of accidents, of which being struck by a piece of heavy equipment is one. A vital factor in safety on a construction site is having ample warning of danger. Purchasing equipment with warning features included is excellent, but sometimes machinery needs to be modified to give that effect. One feature that is often incorporated is tower lights or other signalling systems which can incorporate different colored lights as well as audible warning systems to give a constant reminder of potential dangers to nearby workers and passersby.
Collect Your Equipment Data
We live in an age where everyone has a supercomputer in their pocket. Computers can do wonders when it comes to increasing the efficiency of a project, and those gains extend to the pieces of equipment themselves. Every machine in your fleet should have an integrated data analytics system. These systems keep track of when operators are running their equipment at peak efficiency or when they're falling short. The same tech can inform owners about safety issues. Some even allow you to automate repetitive jobs which can serve to expedite the entire project. The bottom line is that the more qualitative data that an owner or manager has at their fingertips, the more effectively their equipment can be mobilized.
Schedule Regular Maintenance
The more massive and complicated a piece of equipment is, the more maintenance it requires. A major factor in the poor care of equipment lies in irregularity of servicing. Setting a schedule for maintenance is important to keeping things on track because problems can easily multiply and small technical issues can become large ones quickly in the course of heavy use. Studies have shown that a regular schedule can increase profits through overall reliability increases. A big issue in the area of maintenance is cost overrun. The average highway construction company, for example, has over 25% waste in its overall cost of maintenance. The market offers multiple solutions here through outsourcing maintenance needs or using a Computerized Maintenance Management System (CMMS) to track costs as they accrue.
Train Employees Properly
In an industry that's so heavily dependent upon equipment, it's easy to forget the impact of the human element in making the most of the tools being used. When workers aren't completely sure about how to use the equipment they're working with, or if they have little knowledge of the proper procedures for maintaining them, the chance for wear and tear on a machine (or even catastrophic accidents) can skyrocket. Either putting employees through a standardized training program or engaging in one-on-one instruction will make certain that team members are well informed. Regular refresher courses will help to keep them that way, as will posting standard safety and equipment use regulations.
The proper upkeep and deployment of the massive mechanical tools that are the stock and trade of the construction industry can seem daunting at first. The combination of technology and technique, however, can be leveraged to overcome these challenges and ensure that the equipment that keeps your construction company going will remain both efficient and safe.