Keep Equipment Running with Careful, Consistent Maintenance

No one wants to dump good money into poorly maintained equipment. Yet that is just what happens to many sweeping contractors who fail to keep up with routine maintenance for their costly equipment.
A new or refurbished sweeper is the largest investment that most contractors will make in their businesses. But far too often, a combination of sloppy record keeping, slapdash repairs, and lackadaisical maintenance can doom a company. The scenario is not an exaggeration—lost time means lost money. With most contractors operating on a thin profit margin, few can afford the luxury of a broken piece of equipment.
Machine failures that are the result of poor maintenance happen on their own schedules—not that of a business owner’s. That’s the downside. The upside? Machinery maintenance can be scheduled at the owner’s convenience. The key is to get a schedule and stick to it.
Most sweeper manufacturers have toll free numbers answered by knowledgeable technicians who are available to help with many maintenance issues. In addition, their websites can be a wealth of information, with online owners’ manuals that detail factory-recommended maintenance schedules. Those recommendations vary with the type and size of equipment, but they can be quite specific. For example, Elgin Sweepers, of Elgin, IL, details when bristle strips should be replaced and when to tighten compression screws to prevent the tube from slipping on rubbers.
Success in the sweeping business comes with a mastery of equipment maintenance. For some, the lesson is learned the hard way, after numerous equipment failures and expensive downtime on job sites. Others start out the right way by following service recommendations and keeping scrupulous maintenance records; they make equipment maintenance an important part of running their businesses from the first day their companies begin operating.
While taking time to maintain equipment cuts into time on the road and in parking lots for sweeping contractors, there are some reasons why that time in the shop is as valuable as time outside the shop. The comments below have been offered in the past by Bryan Palmer of Nite-Hawk Sweepers, a well-known and respected company whose original founders developed the first hydraulic sweeper. His comments warrant repeating now and can certainly be applied to those who use any type of sweeper, regardless of the manufacturer.
*Maintenance increases longevity of equipment. Properly maintained equipment does not breakdown as often as equipment that is neglected.
*When equipment works, so do employees. Expensive downtime is decreased when a contractor adheres to a maintenance schedule.
*Safety. One of the most potentially expensive results of poorly maintained equipment can be injury to employees. The cost, both professionally and financially, can be devastating to a company.
*Remember: maintenance may cost money today, but it will save many more dollars down the road.
Here are a few more tips from Palmer about how to keep sweeping equipment—or any equipment for that matter—running better and longer:
*Perform factory-recommended and scheduled maintenance. For guidelines, contact the manufacturer’s website.
*Use factory parts. In some cases, so-called “after-market” parts void equipment warranties.
*Do not wait. Address maintenance problems promptly. Take care of little problems before they become big problems.
*Be organized. Remember to keep up with that paperwork. Use daily, weekly, and monthly checklists to track equipment condition and to prevent common mechanical issues.
No one wants to be a slave to balky equipment. Almost nothing is more frustrating to a business owner than watching his workers sit around while a piece of equipment is down. Take the time now to follow manufacturers’ guidelines. Tailor your maintenance program to the equipment and the conditions under which it will be used, but remember that too-frequent maintenance is unnecessary and expensive.
Turn to the Internet as the first source of help. The information is free or consists of low-cost downloads. Online, for example, sweeping contractors can learn that a good maintenance record system should include a description of the equipment, its location, size, model, type and serial number, relative electrical and mechanical information, a listing of preventive maintenance, inspections and the dates of any repairs performed.
Other than good employees, almost nothing is more valuable than a piece of equipment that works properly. Keep those sweepers working, and those sweepers will keep working for you.


Story by Marie Elium