Pre-Purchase Maintenance Considerations for Compact Machines

by Visitor RoyBrookhart ‎02-24-2015 02:43 PM - edited ‎02-24-2015 02:44 PM

CATBC50813-whiteborder_march.jpgThere are many features and benefits to consider when purchasing machines, so completing a full evaluation, including maintenance checkpoints, is essential for making the right choice. It’s important for buyers to go beyond the typical pre-purchase routine because not all maintenance programs are designed to maximize machine value and operator convenience.

 

While the Operation and Maintenance Manual (OMM) outlines all maintenance features including detailed interval schedules, a mock machine walk-around could expose understated factors that may greatly impact maintenance procedures. A machine’s outer design and component configuration should be taken into account as these factors can affect the time and tools needed to complete a maintenance checklist.

 

Daily Maintenance Considerations
During a mock walk-around, take some time to evaluate daily maintenance needs. Look for clear and concise information showing the location of maintenance points, which should be listed on a machine decal or in the OMM. Some manufacturers provide these details online to ensure operators always have access.

 

Maintenance points should be easily accessible in a way that’s physically comfortable for the operator, and consideration should also be taken for safe maintenance practices in and around the machine. Therefore, consider machines that do not require awkward posing or repositioning to access daily maintenance points.

 

Additionally, look for access points that are grouped together. The closer the access points the easier it will be for the operator to complete the maintenance checklist quickly. For example, all grease points should be grouped close together, so they can be serviced from fewer locations. Also, avoid machine designs that need uniquely shaped containers or excessive hand tools to complete daily maintenance tasks.

 

Optimize Maintenance Intervals
Today’s machine designs include technology that helps extend service intervals to reduce total ownership costs. Many maintenance tasks that used to be required may no longer be necessary. For example, there is no need to maintain battery fluid levels when maintenance-free batteries come standard on newer designs. Work with your dealer to determine if any traditional maintenance requirements have been eliminated.

 

Here are some other factors that could help optimize maintenance intervals:

 

  • Assess machine designs with convenient intervals that are easy to remember, such as multiples of 100 or 250 hours.
  • Identify manufacturers that offer maintenance kits with machine purchases that might include filters, fluids and other items needed at various intervals.
  • Ask if your dealer rep offers optional sampling services for fluid analysis that help track data over time to identify deviation from normal trends and help improve machine efficiency.

Sometimes replacing parts is necessary, but there are ways to get more from them to reduce replacement frequency. Attachments that have cutting edges on buckets and blades may come with double-sided options. If one side reaches its wear limit, simply reverse it to extend the life. Utilizing components like oil filters that have reusable metal containers can help increase component lifecycles. You can also reduce parts costs by using remanufactured components that meet manufacturer's specifications.

 

Maintenance is essential to running an effective fleet, and machine performance greatly affects business success. Scheduling a mock maintenance walk-around before purchasing a machine can help define ease of maintenance giving you an opportunity to reduce operating costs and increase your bottom line.

 

For more information on machine maintenance, contact your local Cat dealer or visit us at www.parts.cat.com. We’d like to hear about your experience with maintenance.

  • What maintenance features do you look for when considering the purchase of a machine?
  • Which maintenance tasks do you complete daily?
  • How have you prevented a major machine failure by fixing an issue discovered through routine maintenance?
  • Have you ever purchased a machine and realized that the maintenance requirements were not as convenient as you expected?
  • How can Caterpillar help improve ease of maintenance?

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About the Author
  • I’m an Attachments Product Application & Sales Support Specialist for Caterpillar in North America. I have been with Caterpillar for five years including roles in the field as a dealer sales support representative and marketing support in the skid steer and small wheel loader product groups. I graduated from Iowa State University with degrees in Agricultural Business and Economics. Our goal is to provide a full portfolio of attachments for our customers to be more productive and versatile with their machines.
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  • I’m a Compact Wheel Loader Product Application Specialist for Caterpillar in North America. I have 11 years of experience, including roles in the field as a dealer technical support representative, and as a distributor business model consultant.  I graduated from North Carolina State University with a Mechanical Engineering Degree, and wanted a job where I didn't have to sit in front of a computer all day.  This job allows me to get out and get my hands dirty, with the goal of providing solutions to customers’ machine needs.
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  • I am an expert Operator and Application Specialist for Caterpillar concentrating on products used in the construction trades industry. I operate, evaluate and train on Cat machines and Work Tool Attachments worldwide. I have a Degree in Agricultural Engineering, Craftsman Certified and was named Apprentice of the Year 1981 at the University of East Anglia, UK.
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  • I am a Product Application Specialist with 16 years of experience in the industry. As a Building Construction Products Global Trainer, I focus on training dealers and customers on machines, attachments and applications as it relates to the construction, agriculture and landscaping segments.
  • I have been with Caterpillar for more than eight years, working in various roles including a materials engineer, a filters product manager and my current position as a parts consultant. My job allows me the opportunity to work with Cat dealers and customers providing insight on how the use of quality filters and fluids results in better equipment performance and lower owning and operating costs.
  • I am a marketing and sales support professional for Caterpillar. In this role, I work with our marketing and customer service teams to support or dealers and customers, concentrating on our Small Wheel Loader, Skid Steer Loader, Mini Excavator and Dozer product groups. The exchange of ideas, information and opinions about equipment and how it’s used in various industries on forums such as this blog helps me fulfill my role at Caterpillar to the best of my ability.
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  • Jeff Brown is a marketing professional for Caterpillar Skid Steer, Multi Terrain and Compact Track Loaders. Over Jeff's 12 years in the industry, he has visited with and studied the needs of customers across landscaping, construction, and agriculture segments. Delivering innovative solutions that solve customer's problems is Jeff's main focus.
  • I am a North American Product and Application Specialist for Caterpillar. In this role, I have had the opportunity to represent Caterpillar at various trade shows and train customers on new Small Wheel Loader content. I graduated from Purdue University in 2001 with a Mechanical Engineering degree and have spent the past 15 years with Caterpillar in various engineering roles. Growing up in the Mid-West, I have always loved the cold and the unique activities winter enables. Unfortunately, I had to give those up when I moved to North Carolina. I don't care what people say, you never get used to a hot climate.
  • I am a Filter and Fluid Marketing Consultant with over 14 years experience working at Caterpillar. My focus is to ensure customers understand the importance of using superior filtration and lubrication products in their equipment.
  • I am a Sales Support Manager with over nine years of experience in a variety of roles with Caterpillar Financial Services Corporation. Throughout my career, I have had the opportunity to gain experience in matching financial products and tailoring funding strategies to the specific needs of customers. This includes more than three years as a Territory Manager in Seattle partnered with N C Machinery, an authorized Cat dealer covering the states of Washington and Alaska.
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