The Most Common Equipment Malfunctions and How to Prevent Them

December 22, 2020
DOZR Hub Home 9 Equipment Tips 9 The Most Common Equipment Malfunctions and How to Prevent Them

The construction industry lives and breathes by its heavy equipment fleet. Without it, many tasks would be impossible to complete. Renting equipment is a popular choice for a number of reasons, from lower costs to saving money on equipment that only gets used once or twice a year. Whether the equipment you use on-site is rented or owned, all machines can experience malfunctions. Downtime is still downtime, regardless of the name on the ownership title. Knowing what common malfunctions are and how to prevent them can help keep your owned or rented equipment moving all project long. 

So, what are the most common equipment malfunctions, and what can you do to prevent them?

Avoid Operators Unfamiliar With the Equipment

One of the most common rental equipment malfunctions that can occur happens when you put an untrained or inexperienced operator at the controls.

In addition to potentially causing equipment malfunctions, these individuals are more prone to on-the-job accidents and injuries according to OSHA. Without the knowledge, training and skills to use heavy machinery safely, you could find yourself facing equipment breakdowns and significant downtime.

It might seem like an extra expense or waste of time to offer comprehensive training for each new piece of equipment you bring to the jobsite, but it’s an essential step toward preventing malfunctions, accidents and lost profits.

Safety should always be a top priority and training is a key way to keeping everyone and every machine safe on site. 

Complete a Circle Check when Your Delivery Arrives

When renting a piece of equipment, it’s important to complete a circle check when it arrives on your site. DOZR provides a circle check form with all rentals to help the renting person or company document any problems or issues with the machine ahead of time. 

This step might take some time, but it is vital to keep track of any issues or damage that may have taken place before the machine arrives and also to protect yourself in the case of any issues that may happen during the time of rental.

Follow the Rental Company’s Maintenance Schedule

If you’re renting a piece of equipment for a long period of time, there is a good chance that scheduled maintenance will take place during the rental. 

Stick to the letter of the schedule to prevent breakdowns. You may find yourself responsible for some basic tasks, while more complicated maintenance will require you to return the equipment to the renter for service. Undercarriage maintenance, for example, might fall into your wheelhouse, but replacing a timing belt or conducting other kinds of engine service is likely the responsibility of the rental company.

This is no different than following the maintenance schedule in your car’s owner’s manual. Stick to the schedule, or you may find yourself responsible for repair costs if something breaks down that could have been prevented with regular maintenance.

Pay Attention to Weather Reports and Equipment Tolerances

Deadlines are important, but construction crews have no obligation to continue working through rain, snow or any other extreme weather conditions. This becomes especially important if you have rental equipment as part of your fleet. The chances are high that each piece will have specific temperature tolerances. Working outside of those tolerances could lead to equipment failure, which could also leave you responsible for repair costs.

Pay close attention to your equipment’s weather and temperature tolerance, and don’t use them outside of those limits. It may delay your project a bit, but it will prevent your equipment from failing when you need it the most.

Pay Attention to Warning Signals

We might joke and call them “idiot lights,” but the warning signs and signals on the dashboard of a car or a piece of heavy equipment serve an important purpose. Each machine comes equipped with a bevy of sensors that track everything from electrical current to oil pressure. If they sense that something is amiss, they’ll throw up an alarm.

Don’t ignore these signs and signals. Doing so could lead to equipment failure and, again, leave you responsible for repair costs and contending with downtime while you hunt for a replacement. The chances are high that your rental agreement includes instructions for what to do if one of the device’s warning lights starts flashing. If it doesn’t, call the rental company to find out how to proceed.

Do Not Use Equipment for Anything Other Than Its Intended Purpose

The more comfortable you become with a piece of equipment, the easier it becomes to push it to its limits as you’re working. This isn’t always a bad thing. Trained and experienced operators learn how to get the most out of your equipment, which helps to increase operational efficiency and can even extend the lifespan of your fleet.

Be careful that this level of comfort and familiarity doesn’t lead to improper equipment use. Ensure everything in your fleet is only getting used for its intended purposes. And, while this should be common sense, make sure that no one is using the machinery outside of business hours or for entertainment purposes.

It’s important to note that many insurance policies do not cover the misuse of a piece of machinery. Pushing equipment past its limit or using it for the incorrect purpose can also make the renter liable in the event of damages. 

In many cases, protecting the machine means protecting yourself.

Store It Properly When Not in Use

Even sites that operate 24 hours a day don’t use every piece of equipment every day. One of the easiest things you can do to prevent equipment malfunction and failure is to ensure that everything is stored properly when it’s not in use. This particular responsibility can take all sorts of different forms, from tarps and equipment covers to parking under a carport or other cover or even in garages or warehouses to keep the elements at bay.

Whatever your choice, simply protecting your rental equipment from the elements can make an enormous difference when it comes to preventing malfunctions and failure on the jobsite.

Rental Equipment Doesn’t Absolve You of Responsibility

Renting equipment may be more cost-effective than buying it because you don’t have to worry about things like purchase costs, insurance or maintenance, but it doesn’t absolve you of the responsibility to take care of the equipment you’ve rented. Be aware of the potential risks and equipment malfunctions so you can take the necessary steps to prevent them.

This article was written by a guest author. Rose Morrison is the managing editor for Renovated.

Rose Morrison

Rose Morrison is a freelance writer who covers construction management topics. She is also the managing editor of Renovated.

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