- Category: News
- Be Proactive With Maintenance
- Maintain a Strong Communication Culture
- Invest in Your Team
- Prioritize Safety
- Attract Top Talent
- Minimize Downtime With the Right Equipment and Technology
- Improve Construction Site Productivity With Solutions From Holt of California
The construction industry is currently facing a skilled labor shortage. Companies must maximize their current crews and resources to compensate for the lack of workers. In a perfect world, employees and equipment alike would always work in harmony to meet production quotas and deadlines.
But in the real world, things go wrong.
Inefficient practices and malfunctioning equipment hinder productivity and frustrate crews. Plus, lost time decreases your reputation and costs your company money.
Effective management is critical for improving site productivity in the construction industry. For example, keeping proper fleet maintenance records will keep equipment from breaking down. Beyond investing in your equipment, you should focus on your team to demonstrate your appreciation to employees, streamline communications and maximize safety.
Keep reading to discover how to improve productivity on a construction site through best management practices and modern technology.
Be Proactive With Maintenance
If your equipment has failed during a job, you know how frustrating — and unproductive — a lack of preventive maintenance can be. When machines malfunction, jobs may become delayed, discouraging your team. The more time repairs take, the less time your crews can spend working.
Recognizing when you need to replace or repair equipment is crucial to managing a productive workforce. However, waiting for reactive maintenance after something goes wrong leads to unplanned downtime. In contrast, preventive maintenance helps fight regular wear and tear. Preventing minor issues from snowballing into more substantial problems keeps equipment in top condition to increase construction site efficiency.
You should consistently inspect your equipment to ensure it's properly working, monitoring:
- Grease and grease filters
- Clean air filters
- Oil filters and levels
- Coolant and hydraulic fuel levels
When surveilling equipment, you should understand what to look for. Keep an eye out for the signs it might be time to repair a machine:
- Cracks on the frame and along welds
- Wear on the tracks, treads and tires
- Windshield cracks, chips and dents
- Wear on the bucket
Appropriately maintaining your equipment maximizes your return on investment, which you can calculate by comparing a fleet's value with its operating costs.
You can maintain a fleet portfolio virtually to eliminate the need to keep track of paperwork, while collecting more data about your equipment, such as operating costs and hours. Apps like Cat App: Fleet Management from Caterpillar optimize fleet management. Access fleet location, service meter units, instructional videos and fleet operation and maintenance manuals all in one place. Plus, you can contact our service team right from a job site.
When you first buy or rent a piece of equipment, ask your dealer about their service options. Keeping a regular maintenance schedule with your dealer will increase your fleets' lifespan. Plus, you can get the best equipment upgrades for your company when it's time to replace your fleets. After all, who knows your machines better than the dealer? Reputable dealers can provide the most reliable Cat parts made for your equipment.
Services like S.O.S. Fluid Analysis monitor fleets so you can keep them safely running and extend their lifetime. You'll optimize inspection and oil change intervals and decrease maintenance time through regular monitoring. Tracking wear and tear informs you when vehicles require maintenance. Then, a certified service technician can directly and immediately target the problem before a minor problem becomes significant.
Maintain a Strong Communication Culture
If something goes wrong on a job site, it's instrumental your team can quickly communicate with management. Creating a robust communication culture is crucial for maximizing construction site productivity, as employees will immediately know who to contact, even before accidents happen. Delays and material shortages hinder productivity on construction sites. If team members know how to reach the right person, incidents will take less time, and your team will have fewer frustrations.
Typically, the people in the field are the first ones to encounter a problem on a job site. Check in with employees to ensure they know who their primary and secondary contacts are. You'll also want to keep their contacts updated when your company brings on new hires.
Work with your team to create and implement an airtight communication plan. Everyone at your company should use a consistent communication platform to report minor incidents promptly. If possible, company phones — furnished with sturdy cases — can provide team members on-the-go access to each other. You'll increase productivity, as employees will spend more time on site instead of in the office.
Part of a communication plan should be keeping your teams versed on future projects. Allow your teams access to information about their work schedules in the future. That way, you'll avoid paying employees unexpected overtime.
Further, you should get to know your employees to build a culture based on trust. They'll feel valued, and you'll understand how to best manage, assign and motivate different parts of your team. Maintaining a relationship with your employees will also alleviate your stress. You'll be able to direct your energy where it's most necessary, rather than spending resources on constant re-hiring. And if you are hiring, being an outstanding employer makes you more likely to attract the top talent you need.
Invest in Your Team
Your employees are one of your company's most valuable assets. One of the best ways to make your construction site more efficient is motivating your team and identifying weak spots. Assess where your employees require the most support. Do they need more supervision, or do they struggle to communicate with the rest of the team? By recognizing where your team is performing well and areas for improvement, you can maximize your resources.
Getting to know your employees will boost productivity. However, your employees will also feel more valued as humans rather than laborers. When people are more satisfied in their jobs, they're typically more productive. Maintaining a positive relationship with crews also reduces employee turnover, minimizing the need to retrain new hires.
Hire well-trained team members, then implement regular retraining programs, especially when you purchase new equipment. When your team doesn't understand how to use your fleets, it leads to a disorganized work site. Proper training protects your workers from workplace accidents and prevents costly equipment damage. Plus, your team will spend less time trying to figure out how to operate your equipment.
You can also claim tax deductions and apply for tax credits that support professional development. Construction companies can claim trade school tuition costs, subscriptions to trade publications, industry association memberships and licensing fees. Further, the American Opportunity Tax Credit and Lifetime Learning Credit can help with education costs — up to $2,500 and $2,000 per year, respectively, for each student. Investing in your team's professional development and growing their skills can help improve productivity at construction sites.
Pushing equipment for long hours might seem necessary to meet quotas. However, overworking equipment can cause malfunctions and make your team fatigued. Appropriate scheduling makes your employees feel valued and safer, increasing productivity on construction sites. Getting to know employees and recognizing stress signals will help you plan for potential setbacks. You can identify and prevent problems before they happen, and your employees will feel more comfortable.
You should also plan for emergencies and account for risk during the project planning phase. Unexpected malfunctions lead to unplanned downtime and could even shut down a smaller or less stable company. If you take time to create a safety and emergency protocol, you can improve construction site efficiency — even when problems happen.
Construction is a dangerous job, with one in five deaths in private industry happening in construction in 2019. Take time to determine how your staff will manage and respond to emergencies when they happen. Because nearly all emergencies result from unsafe behavior, you should train employees in workplace best practices to maximize safety. Establish clear safety protocols and ensure all members of your team understand procedures.
Though accidents delay or could even halt a job, downtime is the least of your worries if a severe accident happens. Plan how you'll provide counseling in case of severe injury or death. Some team members may require more flexibility with scheduling after an incident. Employees could also run out of tasks if a major project gets canceled. Limit downtime by scheduling backup projects.
A robust safety plan includes the following elements.
- Training employees: Train all workers in safety protocols and how to operate equipment. Workers should know to keep 10 feet of clearance between equipment and power lines. They should also acknowledge load limits and which attachments are appropriate for which machines. For example, an operator could get hurt if they stand in a location other than a footrest or fail to safely enter and exit equipment. Training will help employees feel more confident if an accident does happen.
- Scheduling regular maintenance: Regular maintenance will keep your fleets running smoothly, preventing unexpected equipment failure. However, malfunctions can also hurt your employees. Protect employees with preventive maintenance and regular inspections. Check both normal functioning of different equipment and safety mechanisms like seat belts, reverse alarms and the rollover structure.
- Having the right equipment: Personal protective equipment prevents injury, ultimately making your workers feel safer and reducing the risk of downtime. Depending on the task at hand, team members on site will need hard hats, eye protection, gloves, face shields or even respirators. Train employees on how to use PPE and enforce regulations while on site.
- Recognizing signs of fatigue: Burnout leads to decreased productivity, hurting your bottom line. What's more, your workers could become injured if they're fatigued. Set appropriate overtime hours and recognize when your employees are becoming tired. Working in intense climate conditions like extreme heat or cold can pose a risk to workers. Recognize the signs of heat exhaustion, heatstroke and hypothermia so you can protect your team members. Practices like taking breaks to cool down or warm up will increase productivity in the long run.
- Follow OSHA standards: Employees operating heavy machinery and equipment must have the appropriate training. Employees can hurt themselves and others or break expensive equipment if they misuse machinery. Following OSHA standards prevents workers from injury and keeps your company from facing legal fees.
Attract Top Talent
The U.S. is currently experiencing a shortage of skilled construction labor. The recession that happened in the late 2000s first hindered the industry. Then, the COVID-19 pandemic worsened the problem. Baby boomers, who compose a significant percentage of the workforce, are also reaching retirement age. Because of the fallout from the recession and pandemic, the industry will need 2 million new workers over the next three years to fill the labor shortage.
Though it may currently be challenging to find skilled labor, you can take the following steps to attract top talent.
- Referrals: Referrals from families and friends are an ideal way to find skilled workers. You can partner with local high schools, trade and vocational schools and colleges. Your company can also work with recruiting agencies specifically for construction companies.
- Salary: Offering a high starting salary and good benefits gives your company a competitive advantage. Accidents happen in the construction industry, so employees need benefits. Providing a generous starting salary and extensive benefits package will attract and keep highly qualified candidates. Discuss with your team which benefits are most attractive. For example, you might decide to offer 401(k) contributions.
- Flexible schedules: Allowing employees to flexibly schedule is a valuable workplace perk that will persuade skilled workers to stay loyal to your company for longer. Technology makes communication — and ultimately, flexible scheduling — much more accessible than in the past. Workers will feel valued as individuals rather than for their labor alone.
- Robust training and onboarding: Consider offering free — or maybe even paid — training opportunities. Because many construction workers are nearing retirement age, establish a mentorship culture at your company. Workers who have amassed more years of industry experience can pass their knowledge onto new generations. Further, you should offer professional development opportunities so your employees can stay up to date on industry trends.
- Reach out: Consider searching for talent in other demographics from what your business reached out to historically. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reports that women only account for about 11% of the workforce — more than recent years. Further, nearly the entire industry is white, with Black workers accounting for 6% and Asians representing a slim 2% of workers. You could consider recruiting candidates from diverse backgrounds to grow your company.
- Practice safety: Construction job sites come with various hazards. Minimize the chance of accidents for your team through a strong safety program. Implementing a robust safety program will give potential team members peace of mind. Offer OSHA-certified training courses, so your employees know how to operate machines properly. Further, make your team feel appreciated through wellness initiatives. Providing mental health services and health education will contribute to more healthy, happy and productive employees.
Minimize Downtime With the Right Equipment and Technology
Before heading to a job site, ensure you have the appropriate equipment. You can maximize your machinery and only get what you need by only buying fleets you use frequently. By renting specialty equipment for particular jobs, you can cut costs and have fewer permanent fleets to manage. Improved productivity on construction sites and across your entire company will result in a higher ROI.
When choosing fleets for a job, consider the specific tasks you need to accomplish. Then, decide which equipment will most efficiently and effectively solve the challenge at hand. For example, oversized fleets waste money, while too-small fleets may put your teams behind schedule. If you select the right equipment from the start, crews will more efficiently complete their work.
Beyond picking the correct equipment, you'll want to leverage modern technology to ensure fleets complete the required tasks in the right locations. Apps like VisionLink are one of the best ways to make your construction site more efficient. You'll be able to see when machines are running, their locations and unsafe driving practices from one place.
VisionLink includes four major applications to increase productivity while cutting costs.
- Unified Fleet: This app houses data for fleet management, including equipment location, fuel use, inefficient practices like idling and general operation. Proper fleet management allows for more efficient scheduling and fleet use.
- Unified Service: You can view maintenance data in the Unified Service application, which stores inspection data. Monitoring data from all fleets in one interface streamlines the equipment maintenance and replacement process. Plus, this data will help you identify unsafe practices, so you can quickly remedy them.
- Unified Productivity: As its name suggests, this app tracks efficiency data like machine use, payload, product productivity, volume and cycles. Unified Productivity is also ideal for identifying training and incentive opportunities.
- Administrator: The Administrator app streamlines administrative tasks. Office staff will manage asset settings, notifications, users, groups, projects and reports.
The Cat Productivity app is another excellent option for boosting management and productivity at construction sites. One of the most notable benefits of this app is that it's cloud-based. That means multiple users can view and manage equipment and job data from any location and device with an internet connection.
The app improves productivity in ways like these.
- Maximizing efficiency: Cat Productivity can track individual assets, allowing you to see which fleets are less productive. Further, metrics like hourly fleet performance streamline daily operations. Data helps managers optimize shift changes, breaks and refueling. The app also tracks hours working and idle, fuel burn and map view to increase fuel efficiency by 23%.
- Setting production targets: Develop and reach production targets more efficiently with Cat Productivity. The app displays the number of loads made in a day and weekly load counts. Machine activity data like load times, fill levels, cycle segments and positioning will also improve cycle time by 20%.
- Managing multiple job sites: You can manage several jobs and even view a summary and relevant metrics about all jobs from a single screen.
- Locating fleets: GPS trackers locate all your fleets and how long it takes them to arrive at a location. You can set up geofences, or virtual borders, to see when vehicles leave approved areas.
- Tracking costs: The most productive construction sites are also cost-efficient. Cat Productivity breaks down different costs, including fuel costs and consumption, trends and total site costs. Daily cost breakdowns will help you analyze where you can cut spending without sacrificing productivity.
Improve Construction Site Productivity With Solutions From Holt of California
For more than 95 years, Caterpillar has provided safe, reliable heavy equipment for multiple industries. At Holt of California, we're proud to offer new and used equipment, parts and heavy equipment rentals. Plus, our professional teams will service your equipment to keep it running in top shape. Contact us today or request a quote to experience our excellent customer service and world-class products!
- Category: News
A job well done starts with the right equipment. When you're in need of some heavy lifting, telehandlers have what it takes to help your project reach new heights. These versatile machines combine the best features of both forklifts and cranes. Telehandlers come in a variety of types with several attachments, so you can customize your machines to fit the bill for any projects that come your way.
Equipping your crew with the right telehandlers will maximize your time and increase productivity. Different telehandler types offer various benefits and have specific features to choose from, and knowing all of your options can help you make the best machine decision for your projects and industries.
- What Is a Telehandler?
- How Do Telehandlers Work?
- How to Use a Telehandler
- What Is a Telehandler Used For?
- What Are the Different Types of Telehandlers?
- What Are the Types of Telehandler Attachments?
- How to Know What Type of Telehandler to Use
- Telehandler Operation Training and Certification
- Explore Telehandler Options With Holt of California
What Is a Telehandler?
Telescopic handlers, or telehandlers, are defined as a type of boom lift, which uses a long arm to raise materials or people on a platform or other attachment. Telehandlers are the machines to use for jobs requiring high lifting and handling of materials. Their sturdy bodies and thick, treaded tires allow you to stay stable while driving over uneven terrain at off-road sites.
Telehandlers combine the most useful and durable features of several other machines for applications in all types of work, from construction to agriculture and beyond.
Telehandlers can typically lift to heights between 17 and 56 feet and have lifting capacities between 4,850 and 12,000 pounds. With many feature combinations on the market, you have plenty of options when it comes to choosing a lift that suits your project needs.
How Do Telehandlers Work?
Telehandlers are most commonly used to lift and lower objects, although in some cases, they're also useful for dumping or scooping with the right attachments.
Most telehandlers consist of a chassis with the cab mounted on one side and the telescoping boom on the other side. During lift operations, the boom reaches upward and forward at a consistent diagonal angle. Since forklifts can only reach upward, telehandlers offer more versatility and can reach confined places at hard-to-reach heights by maneuvering the boom lift to the exact spot your crew needs to access.
Telehandlers are different from other types of boom lifts in that, rather than articulating a series of folded joints, they extend out in a straight line, much like extending a telescope. The boom extends because of hydraulic power, which is the conversion of pressurized fluids into power sources.
Pressurized fluids are stored in the vehicle's accumulator, where the motor and hydraulic cylinders convert the fluids' pressure into mechanical motion. Hydraulic fluids are incompressible, so when pressure is applied, it distributes evenly across the fluid and creates an equal force of movement, which is then distributed through several valves to power different sections of the machine.
How to Use a Telehandler
Telehandlers are useful, versatile and rugged, but they're also a major responsibility to take on. Safe operation of these machines ensures workplaces are free from injury and mistakes, which allows for efficient and proper completion of projects and machine longevity. Some of the most important factors for using telehandlers include:
- Inspection: Before each use, inspect the telehandler for any leaks or defects. Refrain from using machines that exhibit issues before or during use.
- Safety features: Always wear the provided seatbelts and harnesses.
- Securing doors: Close all cab doors, or secure them in an open position if necessary and possible.
- Area obstacles: Check the ground you'll be driving on and remove any obstacles. Check for and remove any overhead obstacles. Wait for all pedestrians and other vehicles to exit your travel path.
- Stabilizers: When parked and preparing to lift a load, deploy the telehandler's stabilizers if it has them. Stabilizers protrude from the vehicle to the ground to provide additional vehicle stability and increase the lifting capacity.
- Lifting capacity: Only lift loads within the specific telehandler model's lift capacity. Lifting heavier loads than the machine is designed to handle can cause tipping and other vehicle damage. Always check the operator's manual to make sure the specific telehandler you're using will be able to lift the load.
- Center of gravity: Lifting a load changes the center of gravity of the entire machine. As the heaviest part of the telehandler — the load and boom lift — extends upward, the center of gravity also travels up and out. Only lift the boom when parked on flat ground, as lifting while on a slope could cause the telehandler to tilt.
- Lowering the boom: Always drive with the boom lowered. A low center of gravity allows for maximum stability. Visibility is obstructed by the telescoping arm when the boom is raised.
- Balanced weight: Keep the load weight balanced. For any lift truck, the weight of the load must be comparable to the weight of the rest of the truck to prevent tipping. You can find the maximum weight for a specific telehandler model in its operator's manual. Center all loads on the lift attachment to prevent uneven distribution of weight.
- Parking: After each use, properly park the telehandler on flat, non-graded ground and set the emergency brake.
Each situation involving heavy machinery is unique, and different machines come with different instructions and specs to be aware of. Know your machines, and always use your best judgment to keep your crew safe wherever you're working.
What Is a Telehandler Used For?
The versatility of telehandlers is a large part of their appeal. Telehandlers can move several types of materials and have load capacities, reach heights and maneuvering capabilities that surpass other machines, making them a common all-purpose choice for a variety of industries.
Forklifts are also good for lifting and carrying loads, but their reach heights are limited. Telehandlers extend the range of traditional forklifts, combining the lift capabilities of a crane with the multi-faceted material carrying options of forklifts to go beyond the scope of other machines.
Telehandlers' comparably high load capacities make them ideal for use with industrial projects such as construction, logging and distribution. Crews can efficiently move materials such as concrete blocks, industrial pipes, pallets, packaged goods, snow, water, timber and steel bars. These machines are also useful for outdoor maintenance on buildings and docks, as well as moving other materials to and from high, hard-to-reach places.
In agricultural settings, telehandlers and their various functions can replace several other machines, such as wheeled loaders and backhoe loaders. Use them to move materials across farmland or scoop loads from hard-to-reach trailers.
What Are the Different Types of Telehandlers?
Depending on what you need them for, telehandler makes and models offer a wide array of features. Each telehandler you'll find ultimately falls into one of two categories — fixed or rotating.
With fixed telehandlers, the telescopic boom and operator's cab are mounted on the chassis in a fixed position. If your crew wants to shift the position or facing direction of a fixed telehandler, they must move the entire machine on its wheels, which involves lowering the boom back to its starting position. Although fixed telehandlers have a slightly impaired range of motion, they come in several makes and models that can fit your reach and lift capacity requirements.
With rotating telehandlers, the telescopic boom and operator's cab can fully rotate on the chassis while the rest of the machine body remains stationary. This functionality allows crews to easily maneuver loads where they need to go or reach particularly tough places without moving the rest of the vehicle.
What Are the Types of Telehandler Attachments?
Although manufacturers often describe telehandlers as a type of forklift, the functions of telehandlers actually extend far beyond that of the traditional forklift. Part of what makes telehandlers so versatile is their capacity for several different attachments.
Changing out the features at the end of the boom gives telehandlers a range of unique capabilities. Your crew can use the same telehandler for many different applications just by changing the attachment. You'll save money by buying fewer machines but reaping the benefits of several applications. You'll also minimize the amount of equipment you bring to work sites.
To get the most out of your machine during any project or operating environment, consider adding attachments such as:
- Buckets: Telehandler buckets come in a variety of different forms and are ideal for cleaning up sites, loading, carrying, dumping, moving bulky objects, moving loosely packed materials, clamping, dozing, grading and leveling. Some bucket types are also designed to lift workers so they can work on projects at great heights. Buckets are often designed to carry specific materials, such as waste, grass or even water.
- Carriages: Telehandler forks mount onto carriages to perform additional functions, such as precise load placement. Common carriage types include standard tilt, side shift, dual fork positioning, swing, standard rotate, wide rotate and wide tilt.
- Forks: Telehandler forks are ideal for transporting pallets or lumber, with tines purposefully designed for lifting and carrying specified loads at high heights.
- Platforms: Telehandler platforms are safe for lifting people so they can work at great heights. Some platforms include controls so workers can move the chassis from above, while others depend on the telehandler operator down below.
- Lifting jibs: Telehandlers can also suspend loads from a hook or a chain for efficient movement of materials.
Attachments help maximize your telehandler use, but each one also changes the dynamics of the machine. The specs for the vehicle in its original form change once you add a new attachment. Always account for how each attachment will affect the telehandler's stability and functionality.
All attachments also reduce the lift capacity of the telehandler. Consult your machine's manufacturer or supplier to know what the new capacity will be with each attachment you want to use. Make sure the attachment you're planning to use is designed to work with your telehandler's make and model.
Telehandler attachments are quick and easy to add to your machines. Many attachments use a quick hitch method or another simple attachment requirement. Be sure to add each attachment according to its specifications, and always check that your crew has attached all parts securely before use.
How to Know What Type of Telehandler to Use
The different types of telehandlers are designed for specific uses. Depending on what you want to lift and what height you want to lift it to, different telehandlers are capable of lifting to a range of heights and maneuvering in many ways. For best results, think about the type of work you'll be doing, and choose a lift based on those specifications. Consider:
- The type, size and weight of the loads you'll be lifting
- The height you'll need to be able to reach
- How far the loads need to be carried, and what terrain you'll be driving on
- The space available at the site
- Whether you'll need to rotate your loads or can raise and lower them from a fixed position
- What roads you'll be driving on
- The job location, thinking about visibility, slopes and terrain
You may need a smaller telehandler to get into tighter spaces or one that can fit in the required space even with the stabilizers deployed. Or you may need machinery that can drive on public roads. Additionally, consider any potential attachments you're planning to use:
- Is the make and model of your telehandler compatible with the attachment you want to use?
- What type of work do you need the attachment for?
- What will change about the telehandler's load capabilities with the addition of this new attachment?
- Can your telehandler still accommodate the load weight and boom height with this added initial weight?
- Does the job location permit the type of work this attachment can do?
Telehandler Operation Training and Certification
Like many other heavy machines, to operate a telehandler, everyone must have proper training and receive official certification. Training ensures you and your crew know how to operate these vehicles correctly and can create a safe environment for those around. Training includes lessons on how to operate the telehandlers, the specifications of different models, how to conduct vehicle inspections, operating limitations and more.
Learning how to establish and maintain a safe workplace environment is another important aspect of telehandler training. Working with this equipment invites potential hazards, such as dropping materials from high in the air and accidentally extending the telescoping boom into other vehicles or structures. You must be aware of how to safely operate around pedestrians, how to load and unload specific materials and how to navigate narrow spaces and sloped surfaces.
Your crew may need additional training for the use of certain telehandler attachments. Since these attachments change the capabilities and functions of the machine, it's important to check with the manufacturer for updated information regarding who can operate telehandlers with attachments and under what circumstances.
As with the operation of any heavy machinery, consider the risks and follow a plan to minimize opportunities for injury or damage. Always check your surroundings and the machine's operating specs to make sure you can carry out your job safely.
Explore Telehandler Options With Holt of California
The right piece of equipment can make all the difference. Telehandlers and their attachments come in many varieties to satisfy your every need.
Holt of California has over 85 years of experience helping businesses find exactly what they need to get the job done safely and efficiently. Browse our extensive collection of telehandlers from Caterpillar to see what machines work best for you. To learn more about the equipment we offer or to speak with one of our knowledgeable representatives, fill out our contact form, and we'll be in touch!
- Category: News
- The Importance of Heavy Equipment Safety
- Hazards When Working Around Heavy Equipment
- Communication and Heavy Equipment Safety
- Construction Equipment Safety Tips
- Heavy Equipment Safety Tips for Specific Machinery
The Importance of Heavy Equipment Safety
Hazards When Working Around Heavy Equipment
1. Mechanical Hazards
2. Non-Mechanical Hazards
3. Access Hazards
Communication and Heavy Equipment Safety
Construction Equipment Safety Tips
Heavy Equipment Safety Tips for Specific Machinery
2. Skid Steer Loaders
3. Motor Graders
Be Safe With Holt of California
- Category: News
- How to Choose a Commercial Generator - Assessing Your Needs
- Generator Fuel Types
- Generator Sizing
- Stationary Vs. Mobile Setups
- Control Systems and Features
- Sound Levels
- New Used and Rental Options
The right commercial generator can be a major asset to any business. A generator can provide the electricity you need to keep the lights on, power industrial machinery, and more — even when the power grid fails.
If you're shopping for a generator to power your commercial operations, we're here to help you through the process with our guide to picking a commercial generator. We'll look at some of the key factors for understanding how to buy an industrial generator so you can make an informed decision that helps you keep your operations running smoothly at all times.
How to Choose a Commercial Generator — Assessing Your Needs
Before you start shopping, the first step is to understand your company's needs. The main consideration is what type of power you need from your generator. Are you looking for a primary source of power or a backup option in case of power outages? If you want a backup option, do you need that power to kick on automatically to minimize the disruption in power? Or maybe you want some supplementary power to help you meet peak demands.
You also want to understand how much power you need to support your operations. Beyond these basic needs, you should consider what sort of setup and features you would prefer in a generator. You can learn more about the options that are available as you compare models.
Finally, you also need to consider your budget. Generators come in a wide range of price points. Keep in mind that a higher upfront price for a generator that requires less maintenance and lasts longer may give you a better return on your investment over time than one with a lower price tag.
Generator Fuel Types
One of the primary ways of categorizing generators is by the fuel they run on. After all, buying a commercial generator involves more than the upfront cost of the unit — it also includes the ongoing cost of fuel. Each fuel type comes with its own advantages and potential disadvantages. Let's take a look at five different types of generators so you can be one step closer to choosing the right commercial generator for your needs.
Diesel is an especially popular option for commercial generators. While the price of diesel is generally higher than natural gas or gasoline, diesel offers exceptional fuel efficiency. In other words, you can expect a diesel generator to run longer and generate more electricity than another generator could using the same amount of alternative fuel. Diesel generators are also valued for their ability to fire up quickly, provide dependable performance and offer high power outputs.
Some companies may forego diesel generators because of the emissions they produce. Diesel generators can also struggle in extreme temperatures. However, diesel generators are reliable and efficient overall, making them a great option to consider.
2. Natural Gas
Natural gas has more recently become a popular option for powering generators. According to the National Renewable Energy Laboratory, the availability of natural gas is even more reliable than diesel fuel. Plus, the price tends to fluctuate far less than diesel and gasoline prices. Natural gas is also a more eco-friendly option since it burns cleaner than diesel. Unlike diesel and gasoline, natural gas is not a fuel you store on-site. Instead, you need to hook into a natural gas line.
If your company doesn't have easy access to a natural gas line, it could be a possible downside to owning a natural gas generator. Another downside is that these generators can take a bit longer to start up. If you're using your generator for standby power, this can mean a short gap between losing power and regaining power from your generator.
Gasoline generators are another popular option. Similar to natural gas, gasoline prices tend to be lower than diesel, which can be appealing. Gasoline is also relatively clean burning and offers good fuel economy. Gas-powered generators can operate well in extreme temperatures.
While gasoline generators offer some advantages, they may not offer the power output you need for commercial applications. Additionally, gasoline prices have been known to fluctuate dramatically at times. For this reason, you may opt to stock up on gasoline when prices are low. This can be a good strategy, but gasoline is highly flammable, so you must store it carefully. Gasoline also has a limited shelf life, even if you store it properly and use additives.
A less common fuel option for generators is propane. Typically, propane generators are small, so you aren't likely to find propane options when buying a commercial generator. Propane has an unlimited shelf life and is relatively clean burning. Plus, propane generators tend to run quietly.
Why is propane not a popular option for industrial generators? The answer mainly comes down to cost. Propane is more costly than other fuel options, and it's not as energy efficient as diesel. This poses more of a problem if you're using a generator to meet ongoing needs for electricity rather than using it on occasion when your primary source of power fails.
5. Dual Fuel
Some generators are designed to run on two types of fuel. The two types could be diesel and natural gas or gasoline and propane, for example. The generator will use one fuel type, and if that fuel runs out, it will begin using the other fuel so the generator can stay on. These generators can give you more flexibility since you can choose the fuel type that's more affordable or accessible at a given time.
These generators can be appealing for their flexibility, but they aren't as common as generators designed specifically for one fuel type. Some prominent generator manufacturers don't produce dual fuel generators.
If you know what type of generator you want, your next question is likely, "What size commercial generator do I need?" Let's look at how to size a commercial generator. The word "size" may make you think of the physical footprint of a generator. While physical size is a factor that will matter to some companies with limited space, generally, generator sizing refers to a generator's output. You want to choose a generator that produces the right amount of electrical power to meet your needs.
There are a few terms related to sizing that are helpful to understand as you compare generators:
- Maximum power: Generators are capable of a certain maximum power output. It's important to understand the difference in this number and the rated power, which we'll look at next. The key thing to note here is that you should not plan on operating a generator at its maximum power output long term. A generator can only generate that much power for short periods of time when needed.
- Rated power: A generator's rated power will be a bit lower than the maximum power output. This rating is also called the "constant load" or "continuous load." It's the amount of power you can actually count on your generator to produce over long periods of time, so it's the better number to pay attention to compared to maximum power.
- Wattage: Whether maximum or rated power, a generator's output is measured in watts. Manufacturers multiply the generator's voltage by its load capacity in amperage to determine its wattage. In other words, volts multiplied by amps equals watts. The devices you power should indicate on the packaging or in the owner's manual how many watts of electricity they need to operate.
- Single-phase system: All generators produce electrical power in waves. Single-phase systems produce one wave at a time. The wave swells to peak power and then falls down to zero before starting again. In reality, these dips in power happen so rapidly that they are virtually undetectable. However, single-phase systems are limited in the amount of power they can provide, which makes them less common options for commercial generators.
- Three-phase system: With a three-phase system, you get a more consistent stream of power because there are three waves going at once. When one wave is falling, another is at its peak, so you never experience a dip in power. These systems are more complex and are capable of a higher power output. Most businesses will need a three-phase system for commercial applications.
So, how can you know how to size a generator for your industrial facility? One method is to create a detailed list of all the devices you need to power along with the starting wattage and running wattage each device requires. Then, you can add these devices' power needs together to determine how much electricity you need for your operations.
An easier option if you've already been operating in your facility for some time is to look at your past electric bills. Look at bills from the past 12 months, if you can. See if the utility company notes your peak demand, measured in watts, on each month's bill. Find the month with the highest peak demand and use this as an indicator of your power needs.
It's smart to get a generator that can handle a bit more than your peak demand or the total you came up with so you have some leeway in case your power demands increase.
Stationary vs. Mobile Setups
As we discussed earlier, buying an industrial generator starts with assessing your needs. Do you plan to use the generator for backup power or as a constant power supply? The answer to this question can help you determine whether to choose a stationary generator or a portable one.
If you have a generator on-hand to provide power in emergency situations when your main power source fails, you may be able to get by with a mobile setup. However, even if you're using a generator for standby power, you may still want to choose a stationary generator so it can remain at the ready and automatically switch on as soon as you need it.
Control Systems and Features
Choosing the right industrial generator also comes down to understanding the specific features you want. There are plenty of features that can distinguish one generator from another, even if they share the same power capacity and fuel type. Various types of control systems, digital features and more can add selling points for different generator brands and models.
For example, some generators allow you to start them remotely. You can also look for generators with remote monitoring, where you can track your generator's performance through software online or through an app and receive notifications when the fuel gets low or there is an issue. You can also look for a generator with an LCD or LED display with a navigable menu or one with an automatic shut-off safety feature.
If there are certain features you're looking for, keep these in mind when picking a commercial generator.
Another factor to consider when you're comparing generators is how noisy they are. Industrial facilities can be noisy places anyway, so it may seem inconsequential if you're getting a generator for your manufacturing facility. For commercial facilities that want to keep noise levels down, a generator stationed outside may not cause much disturbance inside.
However, some facilities may have noise ordinances to contend with. If you're located within a jurisdiction where there are limits on the noise you can legally produce, you'll need to make sure you choose a generator that won't exceed these limits. Fortunately, there are generator models that offer quieter operation.
New, Used and Rental Options
When you start shopping for a generator, you'll find you can buy new or used models, or you can rent generators to meet a temporary need. Even if you're planning to purchase a generator, renting at first can be a good idea so you can test out a particular model and see how you like it before making a purchase.
If you plan to use a generator long term or want to have one hooked up at all times for standby power, you should purchase a model that meets your needs. Recent models may come with better fuel efficiency and more state-of-the-art features than older models, but you may be able to purchase a used generator that is a fairly recent model. Buying a used generator can save you money if you're working within a tight budget. Many companies prefer to purchase a new generator, however, if their budget allows.
Choose Generators From Holt of California
Hopefully, you have a more solid understanding of how to buy a commercial generator that will deliver on your needs and expectations. At Holt of California, we carry a wide selection of Cat® power systems to help businesses like yours power operations and avoid downtime in a blackout. Caterpillar designs and manufactures generators that can perform consistently in heavy-duty applications.
We also offer used and rental options for power systems, and our team can even configure a custom solution to meet your specific needs. Contact us online or call 800-452-5888 to speak to our knowledgeable staff today.
- Category: News
- Why Is It Important to Do Preventative Maintenance?
- Prepare a Routine and Preventative Maintenance Program
- Make a Comprehensive Equipment Maintenance Checklist
- Involve Operators and Mechanical Technicians in the Maintenance Program
- Know the Major Types and Caues of Construction Equipment Failure
- Training Employees To Properly Operate Construction Equipment
- Review Original Equipment Manufacturers Manuals
Owning and operating construction equipment is an expensive investment. Even a small construction company can have hundreds of thousands of dollars tied up in equipment. A large operation might have millions invested in construction equipment. Aside from the cost of purchasing and running machinery, there’s also the cost of performing routine and preventive heavy equipment maintenance. It’s an investment that can’t be neglected.
Smart construction company owners realize just how important it is to maintain their equipment. They know what they put into their equipment maintenance program completely pays back. The return on their maintenance investment is huge, and that’s important regardless of company size.
There are many reasons for the importance of construction equipment maintenance. There's also lots of advice available on maintaining construction equipment. Our top tips include implementing a preventive maintenance program and knowing the causes of equipment failure.
Why Is It Important to Do Preventive Maintenance?
First of all, there are two types of construction equipment maintenance. Construction companies practice routine maintenance and preventive maintenance. The two maintenance types go hand-in-hand but there’s a distinct difference. Here is what each maintenance type involves:
- Routine Maintenance: This type refers to the regular maintenance that all construction equipment undergoes on a fixed schedule. The usual maintenance tasks are oil and filter changes as wells as lubrication, checking fluid levels and testing pressures. Routine maintenance also includes procedures laid out in the manufacturer’s operation manual. That might include fluid or failure analysis.
- Preventive Maintenance: Outside of routine maintenance work, equipment preventive maintenance takes a broader scope. Construction equipment preventive maintenance looks for problems in the making. Then mechanics or service technicians take steps to stop or prevent potential machine failure. They take preventive action before something goes seriously wrong.
The importance of preventive maintenance can’t be overstated. Everyone’s familiar with a saying that an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure. Better put in the construction world is that a dollar of cure comes from a dime of prevention. Here are the main reasons why it’s so important to conduct preventive maintenance on construction equipment:
- Longevity: Performing routine and preventive maintenance on construction equipment and machinery makes them last longer. There’s absolutely no argument that properly maintained machines and various construction equipment pieces have greater longevity than poorly kept ones. Regularly servicing machines extends their life, and that extends their availability. Preventing problems ensures that equipment is always available when needed.
- Availability: Any construction equipment that suddenly breaks down is unavailable for service. That makes them not only unprofitable due to unavailability, it makes them expensive to pull from service and make unexpected repairs. Often, the equipment operator sits idle while their machine is not available to work. That causes compounded expenses in human and equipment downtime.
- Expenses: When construction equipment suddenly fails and breaks down, it causes unplanned expenses. Usually, unexpected failures are serious problems that aren’t cheap to repair. Poorly maintained equipment is notorious for causing compound failures. That’s where one problem creates another problem. Compounded problems are expensive issues, and could easily be prevented through careful maintenance. They also create poor confidence in workers.
- Confidence: To be productive, construction equipment operators have to be confident in their machines’ performance. No worker likes operating poorly maintained equipment. It’s human nature for workers to increase performance and output when they know their machines are reliable. Confident workers are also careful workers. They watch out for signs of potential problems and report issues before they become unnecessary expenses. Confident workers are also safer operators. They appreciate the safety stemming from equipment that’s part of a preventive maintenance program.
- Safety: Safety is highly important in every workplace. Proper safety procedures are especially necessary when working with heavy machinery and on construction sites. As with longevity, there’s no question that well-maintained construction equipment is safer than neglected machinery. Sudden equipment failure can easily cause serious injury to its operator or anyone in the line of fire. Failing construction equipment can also cause expensive damage to other machines, buildings or surrounding property. That can result in litigation resulting from a lack of preventive maintenance.
- Litigation: No one wants to go to court and risk ending up paying for damages due to lawsuits. Neglecting to do regular servicing and preventive maintenance on your construction equipment is an accident waiting to happen. And accidents often result in expensive legal procedures. Litigation is preventable as long as a construction company practices due diligence and addresses any potential for negligence on their part. Part of due diligence is ensuring that all equipment undergoes a routine and preventive maintenance program on a regular basis. Companies will also want to keep maintenance records and schedules.
Prepare a Routine and Preventive Maintenance Program
A well-established program involving routine and preventive maintenance steps extends construction equipment longevity and ensures availability. A good preventive maintenance program also lowers overall company expenses, increases worker confidence and improves safety. It also decreases the potential for litigation should something go wrong.
There’s nothing complicated about preparing a routine and preventive maintenance program. It revolves around a construction company’s commitment to maintaining its inventory and taking positive steps to follow through. A routine and preventive maintenance program simply lays out a prescribed plan and establishes ways to ensure it’s carried out.
A company’s commitment always starts with ownership and management. Once workers see and believe that a construction company is serious about its maintenance program, they’ll naturally buy in. Total buy-in results in a team approach where every organization member watches out for problems and pitches in to prevent them. It’s a win-win situation that no construction company should ignore.
Although routine and preventive maintenance tasks are somewhat separate entities, they’re tied together by a common denominator. That’s the act of inspections where careful eyes catch issues during routine maintenance tasks. That way they intervene in a routine role and transition to prevention. They step in and fix machines before they break down.
Preparing a preventive and routine maintenance program entails four steps. Combined, each step ensures overall program success and efficiency. Here are four consideration points for implementing a long-term and effective construction equipment maintenance program:
- Determine what the program covers:There are three main activities in a maintenance program. First is listing what routine maintenance tasks each machine requires. This usually involves milestones like hours, mileage or season changes. The second step is prescribing inspections. This is a fluid task that depends on the various machines and service technician experience. Thirdly, the program acts to replace worn parts or make adjustments to correct potential problems.
- Identify responsibility for administering the program:This depends on the company’s size and capability. Large construction companies with considerable equipment inventory generally have a head mechanic or senior service technician. That person is in the best position to take leadership and administrative responsibility. Small companies should take top-end responsibility where the owner or foreman runs the preventive maintenance program. Regardless of size, the important point is ensuring someone is clearly in charge and responsible for administration.
- Making a schedule for service milestones:Routine equipment maintenance requires consistent scheduling. Intervals or schedule dates rely on individual information about a particular machine. That could be from following a manufacturer guideline, responding to seasonal fluctuations or knowing a machine’s realistic requirements. Maintenance milestones usually revolve around operation hours or travel length. Scheduling maintenance around milestones allows a company manager to anticipate when the equipment will be unavailable. Good scheduling also allows responding technicians to plan for regular servicing and prepare for preventive inspections.
- Documenting service work and preventive maintenance:Documenting service work is a critical part of a preventive maintenance program. Keeping records on each machine gives a clear picture of the equipment’s history. Documentation also records when preventive maintenance intervention happened and what was accomplished. These maintenance records build a pattern of machinery behavior, and they clearly predict potential problems in similar machines. Documents also prove proactive maintenance tasks that support a machine’s value at resale.
Make a Comprehensive Equipment Maintenance Checklist
There’s no doubt that checklists work and offer value to your company. Progressive construction companies benefit when they make comprehensive equipment maintenance checklists part of their routine and preventive maintenance program.
There’s no one-size-fits-all checklist for construction equipment maintenance. Each machine has individual needs and characteristics that require attention. Although many checklist templates are available online, most service administrators prefer to make unique maintenance checklists according to their company's equipment.
How comprehensive your checklist is depends on the particular equipment piece and what type of maintenance it’s scheduled to have. For instance, regular short hour and mileage service intervals might just check-off oil changes, lubrication and fluid top-offs. Mid-range service milestones will require in-depth inspections that go into greater detail.
Major service overhauls and rebuilds require multiple-point and more comprehensive checklists. They cover front-to-back and top-to-bottom inspections that allow technicians or mechanics to dig deep in search of problems. A good checklist layout ensures all equipment parts are examined. Many companies use an alphabetical approach that covers these equipment components and machinery systems. Categories include:
Involve Operators and Mechanical Technicians in the Maintenance Program
No one is more familiar with construction equipment than the professionals who operate or repair them. Operators and mechanical technicians are in the best position to recognize and anticipate problems based on their knowledge, experience and intuition. Every routine and preventive maintenance program must include the mechanics and machine operators.
As long as these ground-level employees see that their company’s management shows a genuine commitment to a preventive maintenance program, they’ll commit as well. Committed workers behave differently than those who are merely compliant. Operators and mechanics who feel involved and empowered will take proactive action in identifying issues. They’ll report potential problems before they become disasters.
Listening to operators and mechanics is a key part of a preventive maintenance program. They’re acutely aware of how their machinery should perform and how it is performing. Operators will sense when equipment problems are developing. Based on their experience with similar machinery, mechanics will know what to look for during routine inspections.
Combined, machine operators and technicians can discuss and identify issues in their equipment. They’re able to take proactive action where operators report pending problems in time for technicians to intervene. Involving operators and mechanical technicians in the maintenance program can save construction companies a lot of money in unnecessary repairs.
Know the Major Types and Causes of Construction Equipment Failure
Developing and implementing a routine and preventive maintenance program involves understanding the organizational steps and what’s involved in building a comprehensive construction equipment checklist. Getting equipment operators and machinery technicians committed to the maintenance program is also vitally important. Together, committed people and comprehensive systems make for a successful process. They’re the foundation of every solid plan.
But truly committed program administrators take their commitment a step further. They strive to learn the overall picture of what causes equipment failure. That way their proactive response is on heightened alert. Genuinely dedicated managers know neglect usually results in equipment failure. They also know there are three types of construction equipment failure:
- Sudden Failure:This is the most serious and damaging type of equipment failure. It happens with little warning and no contingency plan for response. Sudden failure leaves the machine unavailable until it’s repaired and put back in service. Unexpected costs range from machine and operator downtime to mechanic fees and parts charges. Most sudden equipment failures happen because some component wore out and caused a chain reaction. Usually, sudden failures are preventable by recognizing flaws during routine inspections.
- Intermittent Failure:This equipment failure type is sporadic. There are intermittent operation interruptions that stall a machine or cause it to sputter. Often, experienced operators and service personnel recognize intermittent failure symptoms and take immediate steps to correct the problem. Less experienced workers sometimes ignore warning signs and neglect to report them. That leads to sudden failure, immediate downtime and unnecessary repair expenses.
- Gradual Failure:This failure type happens slowly and over time. Operators and the support team recognize gradual failure as part of the wear-and-tear process that affects every piece of construction equipment. It’s rare that gradual failure leads directly to sudden failure, but it’s the first step toward intermittent equipment failure. Fortunately, gradual machine failure is easy to recognize and repair. It’s time-forgiving and gives plenty of warning. Sharp inspectors always watch for gradual failure during routine and preventive maintenance schedules.
Another important heavy equipment maintenance tip is to understand the main equipment failure causes. These critical causes are different than the failure types. Rather than failure classifications, actual causes of machine break-down and failures have three distinct groups.
Equipment failure causes are identifiable. As such, they can be somewhat predicted and prevented by removing or compensating for the cause. Sometimes, one cause leads to the next or failure can be due to a combination of these three things:
- Thermally-Induced Failure:Extreme heat and cold take a terrible toll on heavy machinery and other construction equipment. Cold-weather starts and hot-temperature running is hard on all machines. Often, temperature extremes push machinery beyond their design limits. Then stress failure happens, and it’s usually without warning. The remedy for preventing thermally-induced failure is knowing the machine’s limits and operating within them.
- Mechanically-Induced Failure:This failure cause is easy to recognize. It happens when a machine’s component snaps, breaks or otherwise fails due to overstretching its mechanical capacity. Burst hydraulic hoses and bent blades are prime mechanically-induced failure examples. Many times mechanically-induced failures happen from a lack of lubrication, operator overexertion or collision with other equipment. Fortunately, mechanically-induced failure is readily recognized and preventable with proper training and inspecting.
- Erratic Failure:It’s difficult to detect or predict erratic equipment failure. It occurs randomly and with no clear pattern. Erratic failures are usually caused by some partly-malfunctioning component. It could be something as simple as a loose wire resulting in an intermittent electrical short or something complex and deeply hidden like a defective computer chip. Operators should always report erratic failures immediately so technicians can investigate before they become costly.
Training Employees to Properly Operate Construction Equipment
There’s probably no better return on construction equipment investment than training. Employees who know how to properly operate their machines and to watch for problems are invaluable. They are the front-line defenders of a company’s mechanical assets.
It takes time to properly train an equipment operator. There’s time involved in verbal instruction. There’s time involved in demonstration. And there’s time involved in the learning curve while a new operator gets the hang of their machine. All this time investment is worth it, especially in the big picture of safety and prevention.
Trained operators are more careful workers. They know their machine’s capacity and capability. They also know how to safely use the machine and avoid costly damage to property and injuries to people. Trained operators also recognize when a machine requires routine and preventive maintenance. They’ll report every issue and start prevention steps before there’s a big problem.
Review Original Equipment Manufacturers’ Manuals
Manuals from the original equipment manufacturers provide a wealth of knowledge. Manufacturers know these machines because they’ve built them. Long before a construction equipment piece hits the operator’s hands, the manufacturers invested a lot of time and money in research and development. They know the machine through and through.
Original manufacturers also know what maintenance their machines require. This information should be clearly documented in the owners’ manual. Recommended service intervals will be charted, and important milestones will be highlighted. Manuals are a great resource when developing a routine and preventive maintenance program.
However, as thorough as an original equipment owner’s manual might be, it still doesn’t replace the human skill and knowledge required to keep up with active construction equipment. Good preventive maintenance administrators use a machine’s manual as a guideline. They don’t see it as a restrictive frame that prevents turning to outside sources for help in building a construction equipment maintenance team.
Make Holt of California a Construction Equipment Maintenance Team Partner
Holt of California is a proud partner in the worldwide Cat® dealer group. We employ over 700 people who bring the best construction equipment solutions to valued customers in sixteen counties across North Central California. Our business sells and services all forms of Cat construction equipment and we also rent quality Cat products.
Make sure to check out all Holt of California Cat services and browse our new Cat construction equipment. We have five separate equipment divisions including Agriculture, Earthmoving, Material Handling, Power Systems and the Cat Rental Store. At Holt of California, we take pride in giving superior customer service. We meet our customers’ changing needs by offering a full line of services and products.
One of Holt of California’s leading services is our repair options. We partner with you to service your Cat brand equipment and support your routine and preventive construction equipment maintenance program. Have a look at our construction maintenance services that includes Holt of California’s main, specialization and welding shops as well as our field service and equipment management solutions.
For more information on Holt of California and Cat construction equipment preventive maintenance, call us today at 800-452-5888 or connect with us through our online contact form.