Maintaining equipment: Prevention is key to keep equipment running
Farmers across Wyoming are gearing up for spring planting, as warmer days and spring moisture point towards the beginning of the growing season. Prior to planting, however, producers should make sure their equipment is ready to go.
“The biggest thing we have to remember as producers and equipment dealers is we don’t want to see equipment downtime,” says Brown Company Torrington Store Manager Charlie Harshberger.
“At Brown Company, we believe in preventative maintenance to minimize downtime during busy season,” says Harshberger. “We can prevent larger issues through preventive maintenance.”
Altorfer, Inc., a Midwest Caterpillar equipment dealership, also recommends preventative measures to keep equipment in top shape.
“Regularly scheduled preventative maintenance programs can save a farming operation time and money, which helps producers maximize their revenue,” according to Altorfer. “Utilizing preventative measures can reduce the likelihood of failure and unexpected breakdowns, extend equipment life cycle and maximize value.”
Brown Company in Torrington also offers a winter-fix program that allows producers to bring in their equipment to get a full inspection with maintenance recommendations.
“We really recommend producers get into this program because it allows us to evaluate their equipment and start the process of repairs during the winter off-season,” says Harshberger. “Producers can do with the recommendations what they please. Some will elect to fix the issues themselves and leave others to us for repair.”
“Farmers need to view their heavy equipment like they do their vehicles,” Harshberger notes. “A truck has a recommended oil change of every 3,000 miles and most people follow that to a T. If we treat our equipment the same way, it will last longer and we will save money in the long-haul.”
Altorfer stresses the importance of utilizing accurate record keeping as a part of preparation for planting season.
The company also recommends producers utilize some sort of equipment management system to keep track of equipment needs.
“Whether we use proprietary software or a simple Excel sheet, having a place to store and document equipment information is critical in staying organized,” says Altorfer. “Within these records, producers should inventory equipment and note any maintenance on the equipment.”
“We need to take stock of how many pieces of equipment were owned and operated during planting and harvesting season,” says Altorfer. “Knowing our inventories helps us assess the size of the undertaking with pre-planting maintenance.”
Altorfer stresses the importance of recording past issues because it can assist in addressing issues in the future, should they arise.
“As a part of preventative maintenance, producers should perform certain tasks each year to minimize equipment failures during busy times,” says Altorfer.
“First, producers should do an initial scan of each piece of equipment,” according to Altorfer. “This will help identify immediate problems and give an idea of the needs of each piece.”
Next, producers should attend to fluids and filters within the equipment, according to Altorfer. These fluids include hydraulic and coolant fluids, as well as the oil. They recommend consulting with local dealerships to determine which filters need to be replaced.
“Producers should carefully inspect parts such as hoses, fittings and seals and replace worn out parts as soon as possible,” says Altorfer.
Altorfer recommends ordering additional parts to have on hand for quicker replacements during busy season.
“Tires and wheels should also be inspected and maintained regularly,” says Altorfer. “Make sure the wheel bearings are functioning properly and inflate tires to the correct pressure.”
“Any good preventative maintenance program should include rust prevention,” according to Altorfer. “This means washing off equipment thoroughly after use and storing equipment in a dry place.”
Altorfer also notes a coat of wax can be beneficial in preventing rust.
“Above all producers should be diligent about wear and tear,” according to Altorfer. “Inspecting for wear and tear on a regular basis will prevent being blindsided when equipment malfunctions.”
“For me, we are not just a dealership, and our customers aren’t just a number,” says Harshberger. “When farmers are succeeding, we are succeeding.”
“When we have good relationships with customers, we are better able to understand their operations and serve their needs accordingly,” Harshberger explains.
“The last thing we want is to have people without functioning equipment when they need it most,” Harshberger says. “When a farmer is in the middle of baling hay and their equipment goes out, one good rain shower can ruin a hay crop.”
He comments, “We are in it for the long haul to ensure our customers are able to succeed throughout their season and keep their equipment in top shape.”
Callie Hanson is the assistant editor of the Wyoming Livestock Roundup. Send comments on this article to firstname.lastname@example.org.