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Construction Equipment Safety Tips

Construction Equipment Safety Tips

You’ll find heavy equipment used on practically all construction projects across America. From large roadbuilding projects to residential homebuilding, heavy construction equipment is necessary to build and maintain the nation’s infrastructure — and staying safe when working around heavy equipment is vital.

If you work with or around heavy construction equipment, you’ll have a healthy respect for what these powerful machines can do. Whether you’re around a large excavator on a commercial construction site, working with a grader in the roadbuilding industry or operating a skid steer on a residential renovation project, you need to be aware of what your equipment is capable of. That includes what it’s capable of doing to you.

Heavy construction equipment can be dangerous when not used properly, but most workers perform daily duties uninjured. That’s because they’re aware of dangers associated with equipment operation, and they take steps to mitigate potential accidents. These astute operators and helpers truly appreciate the importance of heavy equipment safety.

The Importance of Heavy Equipment Safety

The Importance of Heavy Equipment Safety

You can’t over-emphasize heavy equipment safety importance. The United States Occupational Health and Safety Administration (OSHA) cites the construction industry as one of the most dangerous occupations in America. OSHA statistics report that 4,693 workers were fatally injured on the job in 2016. Of those, 21.1%, or 991 workers, were killed on construction projects. That’s one in five American workers who died due to accidental injuries while working around construction equipment.

According to OSHA, there are four main causes of death and injury to construction workers. OSHA refers to these as the “fatal four” that accounted for two-thirds of all fatal accidents. OSHA further states that eliminating the fatal four accidental causes would save approximately 631 American workers’ lives every year. The fatal four accident causes are:

  1. Falls: Falling from a height or off construction equipment accounted for 38.7% of worker deaths.
  2. Struck by an Object: There were 9.4% of workers who suffered fatal injuries after being hit by an object on a construction site.
  3. Electrocutions: Being accidentally energized by electricity accounted for 8.3% of construction worker deaths.
  4. Caught In-Between: The percentage of American construction workers who died after being caught in-between components of construction machinery or materials was 7.3%.

Lessons learned from OSHA investigations indicate that almost all accidents concerning heavy equipment operation were preventable. Working with state and local partners, OSHA changed direction from an enforcement-based safety approach to educational assistance. With combined efforts of government regulators and private forces like employers, unions and safety experts, American worker fatalities have dropped from 38 deaths per day in 1970 to an average of 14 a day in 2016.

Clearly, people across the construction industry recognized the importance of heavy equipment safety. They also decided to take action and improve conditions on construction sites. That included educating workers and providing them with detailed safety tips. One of the most important focuses was to eliminate, mitigate and reduce hazards for those working around heavy equipment.

Hazards When Working Around Heavy Equipment

Hazards When Working Around Heavy Equipment

While falls and electrocutions are leading injury causes on construction sites, being struck by objects and caught in-between mechanical components and materials pertain more to heavy equipment operation than general site conditions. The key to preventing or reducing equipment-related injuries is to mitigate potentially dangerous conditions and make all workers aware of their situation.

Situational awareness is an all-encompassing term describing worker alertness and knowledge of their job site surroundings. There are three primary principles for defining and identifying worksite hazards. It’s critically important for all workers to be aware of these hazard categories:

1. Mechanical Hazards

All heavy construction equipment has moving parts. It’s the energy stored and being capable of releasing from machinery parts that present danger. When not in motion, most machines are relatively stable and safe. It’s when they’re operating that they have enormous power and the capability of doing severe damage.

When working around machines, watch for moving parts that can reach people. Also, machinery and equipment that can eject objects and strike someone can be dangerous. Common mechanical hazards include rotating shafts, colliding surfaces, scissor or shear action, sharp edges and detachable connections. Risks associated with mechanical hazards are entanglement, crushing, severing, cutting and puncturing as well as slips and falls when dodging moving components.

2. Non-Mechanical Hazards

Not all heavy equipment hazards come from components in motion. Almost all machines have stored energy waiting for release. That can be gasses or fluids under pressure, electrical charges and hot surfaces. Worker hazards from non-mechanical means also include noxious substances like exhaust emissions and chemical by-products. As well, consider the noise hazard that heavy equipment operation generates.

Situationally aware workers always assess their machinery for non-mechanical hazard potential. They realize how heavy equipment affects the area or environment around them. Common non-mechanical hazards are:

  • Dust
  • Explosive or flammable atmospheres
  • Radiated and conducted heat
  • High-intensity light like lasers or welding arc flashes
  • Heavy metals including lead, mercury and cadmium
  • Steam releases
  • Ionizing radiation such as microwaves and X-rays

Health risks from non-mechanical hazards include burns, lung damage and long-term increased risk of cancer-related diseases.

3. Access Hazards

Many workplace injuries and deaths happen because workers have unsafe access around machinery paths. Without safe access to and from a particular point, workers become accidentally trapped and exposed to mechanical and non-mechanical hazards. Being caught in-between dangerous components or struck by objects is avoidable by proper planning, placing safeguards and raising workers’ situational awareness.

Important considerations for mitigating access hazards are considering who is allowed into a hazardous area or situation and what equipment and materials are in operation. Access control must be predicted and planned in advance rather than reacting to an unexpected situation. The most effective solution for minimizing access accidents is effectively communicating all information concerning mechanical and non-mechanical heavy equipment hazards.

Communication and Heavy Equipment Safety

Hazard mitigation involves a series of orders for controlling potentially dangerous situations. If at all possible, hazards should be eliminated altogether or at least substituted by something less dangerous. If that’s not possible, then risk controls are necessary to prevent or reduce the chance of harm or injury. Workplace health and safety regulations make it mandatory to communicate workplace hazards and risk controls. Laws require hazard communications be applied in what’s called the “highest order.”

High-order risk controls immediately communicate safety cautions. Examples of high order communication are non-mistakable signage that clearly identifies existing hazards and prescribes safe actions for workers exposed to them.

Lower-order hazard controls communicate precautions necessary for workers to be safe around potentially dangerous equipment. Prescribing the right personal protective equipment is a lower order communication tactic. So is stipulating safe workplace behaviors like de-energizing equipment and locking out activation devices.

Administrative controls are part of the hazard communication order chain. This involves detailed instructions for safe operation and exposure reduction such as standard operating procedures (SOPs). Verbal communication like toolbox meetings is another effective form of administrative controls for accident prevention.

Many workplaces use administrative controls to pass on safety tips to workers. Effective safety programs are all-inclusive and involve workers at all levels from equipment operators to those working around them. It’s through communicating safety tips and reinforcing the importance of heavy equipment safety that situational awareness improves. Then, the risk of being a fatal four statistic dramatically drops.

Construction Equipment Safety Tips

Construction Equipment Safety Tips

Staying safe around heavy equipment is everyone’s business. So is sharing information on construction equipment safety tips. The best companies with the strongest safety records have a corporate culture where safety is the way they do business. They’ve built their safety record on a behavioral-based approach where they allow workers to commit to safety rather than being merely compliant to regulations.

Safety-minded cultures encourage all workers to identify barriers to safety and work as a team to remove them. They communicate all workplace hazards and educate workers on hazards around construction machinery as well. 

It’s an ongoing process to identify and control job site hazards. Often, situations change on a site as work progresses, and it’s important to communicate evolving conditions. However, there are many situations where workers face the same hazards from day to day. Here are some of the proven and reliable safety tips that benefit all those working around heavy equipment:

  • Stay out of the line-of-fireThis is a top-priority safety tip. The line-of-fire refers to every place around a piece of heavy equipment where a worker can be caught in-between or hit by a mobile object. Enforcing the line-of-fire rule is a two-way street involving both operator and ground worker. There has to be effective communication about what the machinery operator plans to do and what’s expected of workers around them.
  • Make eye contact. Eye contact with a heavy equipment operator is critical for safety. By making eye contact, it’s assured that both the operator and surrounding workers are aware of each other. This prevents an operator from swinging a machine or material toward a stationary worker who might approach inside the line of fire.
  • Use effective communication signalsMany construction sites use radio communication between machine operators and support workers. Knowing what others are doing and communicating changes in operation are mandatory for safety, and there’s no better way than with a verbal exchange. However, radios aren’t infallible. Clearly displayed and understood hand signals are fail-safe communication devices.
  • Have spottersMany construction equipment operators like those on excavators, delivery trucks and cranes rely on spotters as their second pair of eyes. Every machine has its blind spots where the operator is visually impaired. Using a ground spotter is high-value insurance against accidentally moving the equipment or material into a potentially dangerous position.
  • Identify and mark a danger zone. Marking a danger zone effectively communicates hazards to anyone approaching construction equipment. The danger zone is anywhere that the line-of-fire starts and stops. It’s straightforward to mark the danger zone with barriers, fencing or caution tape. Simple signage that clearly states the safety boundaries also works.
  • Ensure situational awarenessThis safety tip can’t be over-emphasized. It’s vital for everyone on a site to be situationally aware of their surroundings. Two of the terrible offenders for causing injury are overhead and underground hazards. That can be power lines struck by booms or raised dump boxes. It can also be buried electrical or gas lines. Being aware of the situation saves lives.
  • Keep eyes and mind on taskBeing alert is absolutely required for safety. Workers who keep their eyes and mind on their task are far less likely to cause or be involved in an accident. Common contributors to inattentiveness are fatigue, complacency, frustration and rushing. Safety experts say that distractions like these can account for 95% of contributing factors in construction site accidents. Workers didn’t think about or see the hazards even though they knew they were present.
  • Identify entrances and exits of equipment zones. It’s wise to have a dedicated entrance and entry to equipment zones, and those zones should be a clear and safe path that avoids operator blind spots. It also needs to be free of slip, trip and fall obstacles. Those zones should be unmistakably marked and rigidly enforced.
  • Maintain three-point contact. Entry and exit zones also apply to getting on and off heavy equipment. The safety industry standard is called “three-point contact” where a worker always has three points of contact on an ingress/egress ladder or stairs. At any time, either both feet or both hands are contacting a step, rung or handrail. This ensures a good grip and stability.
  • Conduct regular equipment inspectionsEvery heavy equipment operator has a responsibility to inspect their machine on a regular basis. That should always be a pre-start walk around where obvious issues are discovered and rectified before they become dangerous problems. It’s also advisable for anyone working near equipment to watch out for issues with machines, such as loose attachments, wearing parts and foreign materials being lodged in components.
  • Perform routine maintenance. Well-maintained equipment is safe equipment. Every machine should have maintenance performed on a regular, scheduled basis. That might be hourly interventions, seasonal adjustments or mileage maintenance programs. Preventive maintenance is a key part of overall safety performance and should never be left until a machine fails and someone gets hurt.
  • Provide trainingMaking sure equipment operators are properly trained greatly reduces the chance of accidents and injuries. It’s important that operators be trained on the specific machine they’re running and that they know the equipment’s limitations. That way, there’s little chance of over-extending the capabilities and sending it into a roll-over or toppling into others.
  • Develop certification processesIt’s one thing to train a heavy equipment operator. It’s another issue to make sure they’ve retained the knowledge and are competent to operate. Certifying an operator ensures they can safely run their assigned machines. Certification also protects a company by showing operator training in the event of an incident and investigation.
  • Use equipment only for its intended purposeHeavy equipment should only be used for its intended purpose. Machines are designed for specific duties and not for unrelated work. For example, skid steer buckets aren’t made to carry passengers. Neither are excavators meant to be aerial manlifts. Always use the right machine for the proper job, and the chance of injuries greatly decrease.
  • Ensure familiarity with the operator manualMake sure everyone associated with a heavy equipment piece is familiar with the operator manual. Manufacturers go to a lot of effort to spell out safety procedures to help prevent accidents with their machinery. Manuals contain great safety information and tips. Spending a few minutes with the operator manual may teach you some surprising safety lessons.
  • Ensure personal protective equipment is usedEvery professional worksite across the nation has its personal protective equipment (PPE) requirements. Some PPE is mandatory by legislation. Some are site or machinery specific. Immediate safety risks around heavy equipment are noise, dust and heat. Proper hearing, breathing and thermal protection go a long way to reducing personal health and safety issues.
  • Wear a seat beltWearing a seat belt doesn’t only apply to highway vehicles. Always wear the manufacturer installed seat belt or harness when operating equipment. Seat belts restrain an operator in the event of a rollover or side tipping. Being ejected by a machine and crushed on impact is entirely avoidable by simply wearing the seat belt.
  • De-energize energy sources when possibleEnergized sources present serious hazards to those working on or around heavy machines. It’s vitally important to de-energize energy sources before servicing or repairing them. Electrical energy, hydraulic pressure and trapped heat can instantly electrocute, blast or scald an exposed and unprotected worker. If it’s not possible to de-activate an energy source, then it’s mandatory to lock out the activation device and tag it to warn any other workers about the hazard.
  • Exercise caution and proper procedures when fuelingThere are extreme hazards when fueling a machine. That includes dangers to workers and the environment. Always fuel heavy equipment under controlled circumstances. That may be at a dedicated fueling station where ignition sources and spill containment controls are in place. Also, never use a device to block open a fuel delivery nozzle.
  • Ensure proper braking and blockingAlways secure a parked machine. Depending on the equipment type, that might be applying the parking brake on a scraper or grader, for example. It might be lowering a blade or bucket on a dozer or loader, or it could be chocking the wheels on a rubber-tired skid steer. Regardless of the machine, it’s crucial to make sure it never moves unless an operator intends it to.

Heavy Equipment Safety Tips for Specific Machinery

Heavy Equipment Safety Tips for Specific Machinery

There are dozens of different heavy machinery categories and hundreds of different equipment types. Most of the safety tips apply to all machine operations, but there are some tips more applicable to specific machines than others. Properly trained operators will be familiar with quirks surrounding exact equipment pieces. It’s handy for those not officially trained but still employed around construction equipment to know safety tips for specific machinery. Here are the most common construction machines and some more tips:

1. Excavators

Excavators are used across the entire construction industry. Most construction excavators are track-equipped, but some have rubber tires. Excavators come in a vast size range from mini-machines used in tight places up to huge machines capable of moving many yards of material per bucket. If operating or working around an excavator, remember to:

  • Be aware of the blind spot adjacent to the boom arm.
  • Lower the bucket when not in use and disengage the drive.
  • Avoid operating horizontally to side slopes.

Excavators are used across the entire construction industry

2. Skid Steer Loaders

Skid Steer Loaders are versatile and highly-maneuverable equipment that are indispensable for small and medium-sized material moving. Skid steers are fairly easy to operate and have a short learning curve. However, skid steer loaders are powerful machines that can cause serious injury if disrespected. For safety around skid steers, remember to:

  • Always wear the safety belt regardless of operating time and conditions.
  • Mount and dismount the machine using manufacturer-built grips and steps.
  • Be cautious about moving forward or backward with a highly lifted load.

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3. Motor Graders

Motor Graders are common on construction sites, especially where road building and clearing operations exist. No machine can replace a grader for smoothing, beveling and angling finished grades. But, motor graders are hazardous if not handled correctly. A few tips specific to graders are:

  • Be aware of blade width relative to obstacles and obstructions.
  • Be familiar with steering frame lock-link settings and wheel lean lock bolts.
  • Know that overheated grader tires are prone to violent explosions.

Motor Graders are common on construction sites, especially where road building and clearing operations exist.

4. Bulldozers

Bulldozers are powerful earthmovers and highly useful for pushing massive material amounts around worksites. Like all heavy equipment, bulldozers have their peculiarities. Bulldozer safety tips include:

  • Always work up and down on slopes, avoiding cross slope operation.
  • Keep the blade at least 15 inches above ground level when traveling.
  • Be cautious when working in knock-down tree areas to avoid spearing.

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5. Compactors

Compactors come in many configurations.

Compactors come in many configurations. They include regular soil compactors, pneumatic rollers, tandem vibratory rollers and landfill compactors. Nothing packs material for foundation and roadbed building like a mechanized compactor. If working with or around compactors, remember to:

  • Always walk around the machine before use to look for existing damage, leaks and looseness.
  • Use a spotter when compacting in congested areas where sight is impaired.
  • Exit a compactor using proper handholds and never jump from the ladder.

Be Safe With Holt of California

Holt of California is one of an elite group of Cat® Equipment dealers. We feature a wide range of new, used and rental construction equipment and have an extensive selection of Cat heavy equipment to serve every purpose.

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At Holt, we focus on safe equipment operation. Part of our customer service is a Safety Leadership Assessment where industry leaders rate on four key skills including trust, accountability, connectedness and credible consciousness. Caterpillar Equipment Training Solutions is another first-rate service we offer.

Feel free to browse our Holt construction equipment on our website. For excellence in heavy equipment and safe worksite operation, call Holt of California today at 800-452-5888. You can also reach us through our online contact form.

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Construction Equipment Maintenance Tips

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.

Construction Equipment Preventative Maintenance looks for problems in the making

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 MaintenanceThis 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 MaintenanceOutside 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.

Regularly servicing machines extends their life, and that extends their availability

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:

  • LongevityPerforming 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 is highly important in every workplace.

  • SafetySafety 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.

A well-established program involving routine and preventive maintenance steps extends construction equipment longevity and ensures availability.

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.

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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:

  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. 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.
  4. 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.

Maintenance milestones usually revolve around operation hours or travel length.

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.

Comprehensive Equipment Maintenance Checklist

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:

  • Batteries
  • Belts
  • Body
  • Brakes
  • Coolant
  • Drives
  • Electrical
  • Engine
  • Exhaust
  • Filters
  • Fluids
  • Fuel
  • Glass
  • Hoses
  • Injectors
  • Lubrication
  • Safety
  • Steering
  • Suspension
  • Tires
  • Transmission

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.

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 leaves the machine unavailable until it’s repaired and put back in service.

  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. 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:

  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. 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.

Erratic failures are caused by some partly-malfunctioning component.

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.

Trained operators also recognize when a machine requires routine and preventive maintenance.

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.

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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 AgricultureEarthmovingMaterial HandlingPower 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.

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Benefits of Buying Used Equipment

When you’re operating a construction business, you need to decide where to spend your capital wisely. When you need equipment for a job, you can always buy new, but there are times when it can make sense for your bottom line to invest in used Cat® equipment. There are also a number of benefits to buying previously-owned machinery from an authorized dealer, like Holt of California.

Construction Industry Facts and Statistics

2   construction growth

The construction industry is the largest employer in the world. It is expected to grow by 70 percent by the year 2025. With demand for more workers, there will be a growing demand for more equipment. Companies will need to look at their options to keep their fleet at full capacity in order to keep up with the projects they have scheduled. Construction is a dynamic industry that continues to grow and change. Take a look at the following facts and statistics

  • In the US, construction is one of the largest industries. It makes up about 10 percent of the Gross Domestic Product (GDP).
  • Construction-related jobs made up two-thirds of all jobs in the US.
  • The total number of construction machines in the United States is approximately three million units. About one-third of the fleet is in use at any given time.
  • Caterpillar is the No. 1 rated heavy equipment manufacturer in the world. Komatsu and Hitachi are ranked Nos. 2 and 3, respectively.

While construction may be the largest employer in the world, you still need to make sure you have what you need to complete the job — but that doesn’t always mean buying new equipment.

Advantages of Buying Used Cat Construction Equipment

It may be the first instinct to buy new equipment when you need it to complete a job, but there are many advantages to buying used construction equipment as well. Let’s take a look:  

1. Purchase Equipment at a Lower Cost

3   lower costBuying new equipment is an investment that can have a significant impact on your company’s cash flow. However, you can purchase quality used equipment and at a much lower cost. It’s possible to save thousands over the cost of buying new machinery by choosing this option.

The price of new equipment has increased over the past several years. It’s always nice to think about buying something brand new, but you don’t need to sacrifice quality simply because the machinery has been previously owned. If the equipment has been well maintained, you can still get several years of reliable service from it.

Buying used equipment means paying less in sales tax as well as a lower initial purchase price. You could decide to use the savings toward attachments, maintenance costs for your fleet or toward the cost of buying a second piece of equipment.

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2. Avoid Initial Depreciation on Equipment

Construction equipment starts to depreciate as soon as you take it off a dealer’s lot in the same manner as your truck or car. In the first 12 months after purchase, double-digit depreciation is normal, and then it slows down in the second, third and fourth years of ownership. By choosing to buy a used piece of equipment, you are avoiding taking the “hit” on the initial depreciation.4   depreciation

If you decide to buy a new piece of equipment, and it depreciates as the same rate as a new car (between 20-40 percent in the first year), it’s possible for you to owe more on it than what its worth after 12 months or so. No one ever wants to be underwater on a car or truck loan, a mortgage or financing for heavy equipment if they ever had to consider selling the asset after the first year or so.

By choosing to buy a piece of used equipment, you avoid the situation with the particular asset and can focus on building your fleet. You can also turn your attention to the projects you have booked for completion.

3. Hold Equipment Value Longer

As long as the used equipment is properly maintained, it will hold its value. As a reputable used Cat equipment dealer, we track the maintenance history on the equipment we sell. Our customers know how many hours various parts can work before they need to be serviced or rebuilt.

Once you take delivery of your used Cat construction equipment, make a point of keeping detailed service records. Not only will you need to track any expenses incurred in keeping the equipment serviced for income tax purposes, but this information will be very important when the time comes that you want to sell the equipment later on. Prospective buyers will be very interested to find out when the machinery was serviced and what was done. The more details you can provide, the more likely you will be to find a buyer quickly and get an offer close to, or at, your asking price.

4. Find the Features You Need

If you were to make a list of the must-have features when looking for equipment, you’ll likely find them on newer used models. Technology in this market doesn’t move as quickly as other niches, such as computers, where new features and updates that were not available before are being introduced with each new version.

Compare the features of Cat used construction equipment for sale with those of newer models. If you are already a Cat owner and you want to add a similar piece of equipment to your fleet, consider how your existing machinery operates. The mechanisms of a used piece of equipment may be similar to its predecessors in the same model on a year-by-year basis. You can expect to get some of the same functions of the new model, but at a lower price when you choose to purchase a used version.

5. Get Your Equipment Right When You Need It

5   get used equipment right awayBuying new may mean placing an order and waiting for your piece of machinery to be manufactured for you. While there is the advantage of taking delivery of a new machine that has just rolled off the assembly line, you do have to contend with any possible lag time involved. This is a situation where you’ll need to evaluate exactly how important speed of delivery is to the equation when you’re looking for heavy equipment for your business.

On the other hand, used equipment is available, in stock and at the dealer’s lot right away. Once you have made arrangements to buy it and have it delivered to your facility or directly to a job site, you can start working with it (and have it start paying for itself) right away.

You can review the available inventory online at any time that is convenient for you. Simply click on the models you are most interested in to find out more about them before you even go out to visit the lot. The used construction equipment dealer should be able to provide you with the following information about each used item in their inventory:

  • Manufacturer
  • Model/serial number
  • Year
  • Hours of use
  • Asking price

You should also be able to find out where the equipment was used previously, which will give you some idea of the type of conditions it has been exposed to. You’ll want to know whether it was used in a part of the US or Canada that is predominantly wet, dry, warm or cold since this will give you some clues as to how well the equipment may perform if it was well maintained and stored appropriately between jobs.

6. Have Lower Costs of Ownership

Since used equipment holds its value quite well after the first 12 months, you can buy it for specialty jobs, and then sell it and recoup an amount that reflects a good percentage of what you paid for it. In the meantime, you can deduct expenses such as amortization, interest on financing costs, maintenance, insurance, etc. on your income tax return starting in the year you purchased the equipment.

The equipment represents an expense to your business, but it also will help to pay for itself with increased revenue. The more equipment you have available to you in your fleet, the bigger the jobs you will be able to take on. You’ll also have equipment available to send your employees out to more than one job site at the same time. When you can start to generate income from more than one project simultaneously, you will be able to really reap the benefit of having the used equipment available to you. It will allow your income to increase exponentially.

7. Increase Flexibility

6   bid on jobsSince you can acquire used equipment rather easily and for less cash outlay than a similar model of a new truck, dozer, loader or other piece of equipment, you will be able to consider bidding on jobs you wouldn’t be able to consider if it was conditional on you buying new machinery. The cost of financing the used equipment temporarily is something you can factor in as one of the costs of taking on a specialized job for several months or the term of a contract. When the work ends, if you don’t end up landing another contract where you would need the specialized machinery again, you have the option of selling it and recouping much of your initial outlay.

In the meantime, your company and crew have gained experience working on a specialized project. This can only add to your reputation in the industry and with prospective customers. The next time you are approached about doing similar work, you can point to your previous project and explain you have experience in that area. Depending on the amount of work being offered, you can make a decision at that point whether it makes sense to buy a used piece of equipment again or make an alternate decision about how to get the equipment you need for the projects you are being hired to complete.

8. Take Advantage of Available Warranties

The dealer often offers a warranty on used construction equipment. If you know that the equipment is being backed by a maintenance plan, you will feel a lot more comfortable about committing to a purchase.

The maintenance plan benefits you in other ways, too. It helps you to plan for maintenance expenses. These include not only parts and labor, but also items such as supplies and lubricants. When you know how much these expenses will cost per month and over the lifetime of the maintenance plan, you are shielded from the impact of large business costs, as well as having to deal with small repairs that tend to add up over the course of a month or more.

Your dealer will work with you to give you an estimate for the amount you would pay for a package for the particular make and model of Cat used construction equipment for sale that you are interested in. It would include a specific basket of services, maintenance intervals and replacement parts that would fit your particular business. The estimate would be worked up to be a reasonable cost per operating hour for the equipment.

If the maintenance cost is too high, you won’t want to buy the protection plan and if it’s too low then there is no benefit to you as a consumer to consider buying a maintenance agreement to keep your equipment repair costs under control. For the arrangement to benefit both sides, it must contain conditions that will end up benefitting both of you.

9. Enjoy Lower Insurance Costs

The cost of insuring used equipment is usually lower than insuring a similar model of new equipment. Insurance companies generally base their premiums on the equipment’s replacement cost, not on how much you would be able to sell it for after you have owned it for a time. In the case of used construction equipment, the overall cost of coverage is generally less expensive since the replacement cost is lower than for a new piece of equipment. Here are a couple things to look at when determining the insurance for a used piece of equipment:7   replacement value not cash value

  • Replacement value vs. cash value. When discussing adding your new purchase to your policy, make sure your agent or broker understands that you want to insure the equipment for its replacement value, not the cash value. These are two very different terms for insurance purposes, and failing to recognize the difference could end up costing you a lot of money if you have to make a claim against your policy.

If you decide to insure it for the cash value only, you will be entitled only to the depreciated amount if there is a loss. Even though depreciation slows down after the first year, the equipment does continue to depreciate, and you will be faced with a financial deficit if you decide to buy this type of coverage for your used construction equipment.

Choosing replacement value means you will be entitled to compensation for the value of a similar year and model of the type of equipment that was destroyed in a total loss. The insurance company wouldn’t fund the cost of brand new equipment, but you would be “made whole” to the time that the loss occurred.

  • 8   per incident limit vs overall policy limitPer incident limit vs. overall policy limit. When you take out insurance coverage on your construction equipment, keep in mind that your overall policy limit may be a certain figure, but that number may not be the amount you would receive if your fleet was destroyed in a complete loss. You may have an overall policy limit of $X dollars, but the limit the insurance company assigns for any single loss could be a much lower amount.

If an accident involving equipment occurred, the most you could receive to replace it would be limited to a fixed amount, even if there was damage caused to more than one piece of equipment. It’s very important to understand all of your insurance policy provisions before you agree to purchase coverage.

Examine the Equipment Before You Buy

Before you commit to buying the previously-owned construction equipment, do make a point of examining it thoroughly, both inside and out. The dealer should allow you to inspect it completely before you make your buying decision so you can familiarize yourself with all the details of the equipment. You’ll want to make a point of going over the following details:

9   examine1. Cab

The cab is an important part of any piece of equipment. Whether you plan to operate it yourself or have someone on your team work with the equipment once you buy it, this is the place where all the action happens throughout the day. If it’s not comfortable for the operator or the controls are difficult to read or reach, your entire crew won’t be as productive. That will affect your bottom line.

Sit down in the cab, in the same manner as if you were buying a car or a truck. Get an idea of what the operator sees when they sit in it during the day. Find out whether the seat is adjustable in height to conform to different operators’ leg lengths and if the backrest can be adjusted as well.

Next, look at the console and consider how the operator is expected to read the instrument panel. You’ll want to ensure it is well lit and that the information can be read in bright sunlight as well as in low light conditions, since you may need to operate the machinery after dark. Consider, too, whether the equipment is operated with foot pedals or a joystick to lower the risk of neck and back fatigue, as well as repetitive strain injuries to the operator’s hands and wrists.

2. Tires and tracks

Carefully look at the tires on the piece of equipment you are considering. You’ll want to make sure the treads are intact. Cracks and bubbles on the tires are indications that the equipment has been left outside. If the equipment has been exposed to the elements for some time by a previous owner, its condition may not be as good as a similar model that has been stored in an enclosed space when not in use.

Use a tread gauge to check the tires for uneven wear. If you discover any signs, it could indicate a problem with the drivetrain. You’ll want to have that issue fully investigated before moving forward with a potential purchase on a particular piece of equipment.

If you are interested in adding a track machine to your fleet, make sure the tracks and the bolts are firmly in place. Keep in mind that tire and track replacements can often be quite expensive. You’ll want to make a point of finding out the general price on replacement costs for the machine you are considering purchasing.

3. Chassis

You can learn a lot about a piece of equipment’s condition by examining the chassis. Carefully inspect the metal frame to look for signs of welding around the locks, arms, tracks and sprockets. Check the engine, hydraulic parts, hoses, pumps and rams for any indications of leaks. It’s normal for a used vehicle to have some minor signs of wear, but you should be wary of any untreated damage that shows a lack of regular maintenance on the part of the previous owner. Indications of damage that may compromise you or your operator’s comfort or safety also constitute red flags that at least warrant further investigation.

4. Engine and transmission

You can tell a lot about a piece of machinery by examining the state of its engine and transmission. You or one of your professional operators should start the engine and listen for any sounds that are out of the ordinary. You’ll also want to check for emissions to make sure no warning signals go off.

Test the gear and put the machine into reverse to see how well it runs. Any unusual noise from the rollers could indicate that one or more parts are worn out. Do double-check the engine to ensure the hot, moving parts are guarded and that they are working properly. Check the pump and the swing bearing for signs of wear and to make sure there are no leaks anywhere.

Contact Holt of California for Your Used Cat Equipment

10   contactIf you’re looking for more information about used construction equipment from a California dealer, contact us today. We have an extensive selection of previously-owned equipment, including air compressors, articulated trucks, asphalt pavers, backhoe loaders, compactors, off highway trucks and more. We would be happy to answer any questions you may have, so you can get the right equipment to get the job done. 

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Types of Heavy Construction Equipment and Their Uses

There are several distinct types of heavy construction equipment, each with its own set of uses. As you evaluate the types of projects your company is taking on, you may decide it’s time to add to your fleet. While some pieces of equipment serve one specific purpose, there are others that overlap — for example, if you’re looking for heavy equipment that can help you move soil or lift materials, you have a few different options.

We’ve gathered 19 of the most common types of heavy construction equipment, along with a brief description of their primary uses below. Get to know your options so you can find the piece of equipment that will work best for you and your business.

1. Articulated Trucks

Think of articulated truck as next-level dump trucks.

Articulated trucks are ideal for navigating a construction site. These trucks have two parts: the cab — a tractor unit made to travel over rough terrain — and the trailer, created to carry heavy loads. These two parts are connected with a pivot, making the equipment easier to steer. Think of these as next-level dump trucks.

2. Asphalt Pavers

If you need a piece of equipment to lay asphalt on roads, bridges, parking lots or another surface, the type of heavy construction equipment you’re looking for is an asphalt paver. This type of equipment is often accompanied by a dump truck full of the asphalt and a roller. The dump truck feeds the asphalt into the paver, which distributes it onto the surface. While it does provide a small amount of compaction, it needs to be followed by a roller to ensure the asphalt is in place.

3. Backhoe Loaders

Backhoe loaders are versatile types of heavy construction equipment because they are a combination of three types of machinery: a tractor, loader and backhoe. The primary function of this tool is the backhoe, which can be used to dig hard materials, often compact earth. It can also be used to lift heavy loads and put them in a particular place.

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You can use the loader to move dirt and supplies. The fact that it’s a tractor gives you the ability to move effortlessly over rough terrain. They can rotate 200 degrees and make an excellent fit for light-to-medium duty jobs. Think of backhoe loaders as tractors with attachments that make them a versatile addition to any fleet.

4. Cold Planers

Cold planers are also known as milling machines. This type of construction equipment is used to remove asphalt and concrete from a surface. Inside these machines, a big drum rotates and grinds the surface accompanied by cutters that will cut the pavement. Loose pavement is automatically pushed to the center of the rotating drum and fed onto a conveyor belt that’s attached to the machine. During this milling process, water is usually applied to the drum to minimize dust and heat.

5. Compact Track and Multi-Terrain Loaders

Compact track & multi-terrain loaders are built to maximize work with a minimal footprint.

If you need to move dirt or supplies from point A to point B on site, this piece of equipment is a powerful addition to your fleet. These machines are built to maximize work with a minimal footprint. Our compact track and multi-terrain loaders are equipped with a rubber track undercarriage, which is ideal for navigating through a variety of terrains and conditions. Not all heavy equipment types come with this level of versatility, traction and stability.

6. Compactors

There are several types of compactors, but they all are used to reduce the size of a material. The type of machine you need depends on the type of material you need to compact. If you are working with waste, a landfill compactor is the best fit. On the other hand, you’ll want a soil compactor if you’re working with soil. Tandem vibratory rollers are used to compact fresh asphalt, and pneumatic rollers are used with a variety of materials.

7. Dozers

A dozer is recognized by a large metal blade in the front, which is used to push massive quantities of soil or other material. If you need to move large quantities a short distance, pushing the load with a dozer is a great way to do it. If you need to move material more than just a short distance, the combination of a backhoe loader and an articulated dump truck will be a better fit.

There are two different types of dozers: track dozers and wheel dozers. Both provide the same function, but the way they navigate is different. Track dozers spread the weight of this large piece of machinery out evenly over the larger tracks you’ll find in place of the wheels, decreasing the amount of pressure on the ground overall and making it less likely to sink into soft ground.

In place of tracks, wheel dozers have large tires and can move up to three times faster than a track dozer. The type of dozer you need depends on the priorities for the various jobs you complete.

8. Excavators

Think of excavators as a relative of backhoe loaders, with a few key differences — they can rotate a full 360 degrees, are often larger than backhoe loaders and are used for medium-to-heavy duty jobs. There are mini excavators, which can be used for light-to-medium duty jobs. Think of them as a compact version that can perform similar tasks to digging, lifting, landscaping and demolishing — just on a smaller scale, within a smaller footprint.

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You’ll find the same bucket attachment you can use for digging trenches and moving heavy materials, and you can choose between track excavators and wheel excavators. On tracks, you’ll be able to navigate a variety of terrains and conditions without worrying about leaving the deep impressions you can get with wheels. But with wheels, you’ll be able to move a lot faster.

9. Feller Bunchers

If you’re working with trees instead of soil, you may be in the market for a feller buncher. A “feller” is another name for a lumberjack, and you could say this machine replaces the function of several lumberjacks. It works like a weedwhacker for trees, except instead of leaving bits of trees everywhere, it gathers or bunches the trees as it works.

10. Forwarders

Once your feller buncher has taken care of gathering, cutting and stacking the trees, you can quickly load and remove the cut trees from the area with the help of a forwarder. If you also have a loader and a back that resembles an open basket, this type of equipment can help you get a big job done quickly.

11. Harvesters

If you reviewed the description of a feller-buncher but weren’t sure it did everything you need it to, chances are a harvester will be a good fit for you. In addition to bunching and cutting trees, a harvester strips the limbs from the tree, combining the jobs of a feller-buncher, delimber and slasher. Think of this as taking your logging to the next level.

12. Knuckleboom Loaders

Knuckleboom Loaders move surprisingly quick for a large piece of heavy construction equipment.

When the trees have been cut down, stripped and cut to their desired size, they need to be loaded onto a truck and transported to their ultimate destination. Loading a logging truck takes a unique piece of equipment known as a knuckleboom loader, a swing machine with a boom specifically designed for picking up and loading logs. They move surprisingly quick for a large piece of heavy construction equipment. 

13. Loaders

There are two different types of loaders: track loaders and wheel loaders. If there were such a thing as an extra-large skid steer loader, it would be a track loader. This type of construction equipment does everything a skid steer loader can, such as lifting, pushing and moving, but on a larger scale and with a larger capacity. Their tracks give them the ability to distribute their weight evenly among the surface they’re traveling on, making them less likely to sink into soft ground.

Wheel loaders can tackle the same jobs but have wheels. This makes them comparable to a backhoe loader, just without the backhoe. The wheels give them the ability to lift, push and move at a faster pace than a track loader, but they also make them susceptible to leaving their mark on a job site, as the weight of the machine is not spread out over tracks, but over the four wheels.

14. Motor Graders

A motor grader has a blade, as many other pieces of construction equipment do, but the difference is its location between the front and rear axles. The most common function of a motor grader is to level ground, usually in anticipation of adding more layers to prepare a new roadway.

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However, that’s not the only purpose they serve. They can also be used to move a relatively small amount of soil from one location to another, eliminate a layer of soil from a surface or to remove snow.

15. Off-Highway Trucks

When a truck is designed specifically for off-highway use on a construction site, mine or quarry, it’s sure to give you more flexibility in moving large quantities. With big tires and a huge bed for materials, this is one type of construction equipment that comes in handy for a variety of construction projects.

16. Skid Steer Loaders

When it comes to skid steer loaders, remember: size matters.

One of the most important things to remember when it comes to skid steer loaders is that size matters. These machines are recognized for being some of the most versatile on the market. However, a small skid steer, which is ideal for interior demolition projects, won’t be able to tackle the excavating projects a larger skid steer can.

In addition to size, part of what makes these machines so versatile is the diversity of attachments available for them — everything from lifting to pushing.

17. Skidders

When you’re working on construction projects that involve the clearing of wooded land, skidders are used to pull trees that have been cut down out of the woods and into the landing area, where they are usually delimbed and cut to size. There are two types of skidders: cable and grapple. Cable skidders are the classic models, which require pulling the trees with a cable. A grapple resembles a claw, grabbing the trees and pulling them that way.

18. Telehandlers

There are several types of heavy construction equipment that can help you lift materials, and telehandlers are one of them. With a telescopic boom that enables them to reach forward and upward, along with the different types of attachments you can get — such as pallet forks, buckets and lifting jibs — you’ve got a machine that can help you move almost anything. In some cases, telehandlers can even be a cost-effective alternative to cranes.

19. Wheel Tractor-Scrapers

Another option for earthmoving is a wheel tractor-scraper. This piece of equipment is long and has two axles with a complex assortment of features. It combines the ability to begin to grade a surface with a scraper, but instead of solely pushing the dirt, it collects it. The scraper has a sharp edge that digs into the ground, making it loose.

The scraper is angled and has a conveyor belt so that as the soil loosens, it moves from the edge into the hopper, or bowl, which is kind of like an enclosed truck bed. That bowl collects the soil until it’s full, and then can be transported to another area on site to be dumped. The hopper moves hydraulically, making it possible to dump the soil you’ve collected.

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Construction Equipment for Sale in California

As you can see, there are several heavy construction equipment options to help you get the job done. It’s important to choose the right piece of equipment for the job to maximize productivity and cost-effectiveness. Holt of California can help you choose the right piece of equipment to add to your fleet.

It's important to choose the right piece of equipment for the job to maximize productivity & cost-effectiveness.

Regardless of which of these types of construction equipment you need, Holt of California has an extensive selection of equipment for you to browse. As a local dealer with more than 85 years of experience in the California construction industry, we know keeping up with emissions requirements can be confusing. That’s why our staff is knowledgeable on the emissions requirements and will work to ensure your piece of equipment fulfills those standards in the most cost-effective way.

Once you’ve had a chance to browse our equipment online, we’re here to answer all your questions. Fill out our online contact form or give us a call at (800) 452-5888. If you’d like to get a quote on a piece of our equipment, please fill out our request a quote form, and we’ll be in touch.

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15 Advantages to Renting Equipment Versus Owning It

Companies within all industries need every competitive edge they can get. As everyone pores over the balance sheets and all aspects of the business to find advantages, it can literally pay to explore and compare the costs of renting or leasing equipment against the expenses of buying and owning it. 2   it can literally pay

Loaders, excavators, skid steers, trucks, lifts, generators, uninterruptible power supplies and other equipment are essential to any business. But like any other department or resource, they can and must be streamlined for maximum efficiency and versatility. A cost-benefit analysis can provide valuable data to help you make an informed decision about equipment rental versus ownership.

Regardless of how business and companies differ in their size, purposes and structure, few that use any size of equipment can afford to have it be ill- matched for the task or sit idle and unused. Procurement, finance, production and administration departments all might have input on which option to use, since all have important perspectives to present. Maybe you head all those departments for your company or maybe there are different people in charge of each one, but you’re likely to pull statistics from all for a good analysis.

Holt of California offers a comprehensive inventory of equipment for purchase and rent, so we can help you decide which option best suits your business needs, whether they be rental, ownership or a mix of both. As a strong Cat™ dealer serving many industries from multiple locations, we sell new and used equipment and have Cat construction equipment for rent. Along with the excellence of Cat, Holt of California also carries many other allied brands.

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Take Time for an Examination

It helps to first take a step back and analyze the cost-benefit situation as applicable to your business. An educated, logical decision will result as you consider all the factors:

  • Estimated rental payments for the period of use and machines needed
  • Approximate cost of a new machine
  • Transportation and storage expenses
  • Frequency of need for equipment
  • Projected life span of new machine
  • Estimated cost of maintenance and service over its life
  • Rough amount of labor saved with either option
  • Financing options and available capital
  • Need for special technology or skills with projects or equipment
  • Availability of desired new-purchase equipment
  • Possible, multiple uses for machines both rented or bought
  • Internal capability to test, maintain and service machines.

A cost-benefit analysis will result in a much stronger sense of which option fits best, as well as where and why. The most often recommended numeric benchmark for when it’s time to cross over from rental to purchase is when the equipment is needed and used at least 60-70 percent of the time. Generally speaking, if you’re thinking about need for the equipment in terms of years, that can be an indicator that you’re moving toward purchase, unless of course you’ll have little or no use for the machine after the current project or set of jobs.3   benchmark

Your examination of equipment needs will naturally reveal data that are useful to decision making, things such as usage duration, hours wasted or saved, profit or loss potential and capital or financing available now or in the future. Businesses can use some type of construction-management software to track vital job statistics and provide useful information such as trends or previously unknown needs.

Beyond the hard numbers sit a good deal of other considerations, such as safety, quality, efficiency, compliance, growth, risk, morale, employee retention and other factors that affect business but don’t have a hard number attached to them. Individual companies will each value the softer factors differently, but they are all worth considering.

Who Rents and Why?

Many industries can benefit from renting equipment rather than buying it:

  • Agriculture
  • Automotive
  • Construction
  • Earth moving
  • Government
  • Landscape
  • Logging
  • Military/Defense
  • Mining
  • Plumbing
  • Recycling
  • Retail
  • Trucking
  • Waste

Companies and people rent equipment for a number of reasons:

  1. Saves money in many cases
  2. Caters to short-term equipment need
  3. Provides specialty performance
  4. Satisfies temporary production increases
  5. Fills in when regular machines need maintenance or fail
  6. Helps meet deadline crunches
  7. Expands machine inventory
  8. Increases overall capability when and where needed
  9. Eliminates responsibility of testing, maintenance, service
  10. Makes the project schedule easier to manage with on-demand resources.

The rental of equipment can enable a bigger company to augment its fleet when and where needed, while it can aid a small- or medium-sized company to propose work that requires specialty equipment or machines to fulfill the requirements. The range of capabilities among equipment of all sizes can help businesses serve niche markets and win new and different kinds of projects.

4   Rental options can fill in during an outage or emergencyRental options can fill in during an outage or emergency and provide a flexibility that extends to logistics and finance, at a minimum. In addition, competition among rental providers can work to the consumer’s advantage with prices, specials and service. Equipment rental appeals to many industries because of its many benefits and advantages.

1. Forgo the Upfront Investment

Equipment, especially large equipment such as an excavator, tracked dozer or a telehandler, is an expensive capital cost that must be planned and might require a “good year” (or a couple) to come about. When you purchase a piece of capital equipment, your money is tied up in it until you sell it, and if you used it well and kept it long, sale offers might come in lower than you’d like. Not having a large chunk of money tied up in a piece of capital equipment frees up funds for you to pursue opportunity and maintain other important parts of the business.

2. Decrease Long-run Expense

In many cases, companies have maintenance teams or equipment consultants devoted to upkeep and regular service of the machines, which is necessary for fault-free operation. Mechanics must check fluids and hydraulics, service must happen regularly, parts must be changed, technology needs upgrading, sometimes leaks happen and the scheduling for usage and transport represents challenges. You can gauge rental fees, while the expense of maintenance and service in private ownership typically tends to be less predictable.

3. Avoid Storage, Transport Costs

Anyone who decides to purchase a new piece of equipment will need a short- and long-term storage solution for it. Nobody wants to leave a vital piece of new equipment sitting out in the blazing sun, driving rain or blustery wind. Continuous exposure to the elements and a poorly ventilated storage space will degrade machine quality. Everyone realizes that space is expensive no matter where you live or what purpose it will serve, and equipment rental eliminates the need for long-term storage.5   avoid storage and transport costs

Rental can save you from the worry over logistics in transporting equipment from site to site, since you can simply have the rental equipment delivered and picked up when needed. It can help you respond faster to varied needs in different locations. The coordination of placing the right piece of equipment in the right place and for the right amount of time can streamline operations, shorten the workday and save money. However, organizing that kind of precision can be exhausting and detract from a company’s true business, so the frazzled project managers and owners might see a higher value in renting equipment.

4. Save at Tax Time

While many circumstances apply to an individual business’ tax return, rental expenses are a deductible expense while purchased equipment is taxed at a depreciated rate over its lifetime. Generally, rental expenses are a little more financially flexible than are major, capital-expense purchases. In some cases, they’re viewed as project expenses or might have some type of tax-deduction benefit available because of the nature of certain kinds of business.

5. Maintain Strong Borrowing Power

In the same way the Internal Revenue Service looks at rented equipment one way and owned equipment another way, so do banks. They do not see rental expenses as a liability on the balance sheet, so the option to rent equipment maintains stronger borrowing power for a business. Thinking in terms of assets and liabilities, capital-equipment debt or an aging machine could weaken a business’ overall financial picture depending on the numbers and circumstances involved.

6. Achieve worry-free compliance

Especially in California where many would argue the emissions standards are the most stringent in the nation, compliance with air-quality standards is a must and navigating the regulations can be a complex and confounding experience. No companies can afford the financial ding or loss of reputation associated with violating the standards since that can be troublesome and expensive, if not damaging.

6   achieve worry free complianceAir-quality gatekeepers in the Golden State classify the emissions of off-road equipment into three tiers, according to their horsepower and other factors of their overall consumption. As the historic push-pull of progress and conservation continues, the laws and regulations continue to change, and it’s hard to stay abreast of what the differences are and how they apply to your business.

Choosing Cat construction equipment rental can relieve you of the chore of tracking the sporadic regulations changes and provides automatic, consistent compliance. Since no company would want the status of its compliance called into question, there is great value in having confidence that equipment meets emissions and other safety standards.

7. Reduce Waiting and its Associated Losses

Most owners and managers would agree that lost time at the job site eats into profit and deadline compliance, so it’s never good to have people waiting around on a piece of equipment to arrive or for it to be sitting idle because it stalled. When you have a rental agreement, it’s on-demand delivery and pickup for the exact time frame you need. If you need a backhoe with a precision arm for a week, you can get it. If you need an earthmover for a month, you can get that. It can arrive when you start and leave when you finish. In addition, since professionals maintain and service the equipment, it is less likely to fail and waste job hours while an alternative is found and transported.

8. Track New Opportunities

7   business opportunityEquipment rental can do just as much to increase business opportunity as it does to reduce operating expense. Once you factor in the possibility of renting a piece of specialty equipment, it opens the door to new possibilities through that capability. Maybe the job entails digging or grading or a certain kind of precision dirt work that you could capture if you had the right machine, and the same principle translates universally across industries. Whether you’re chasing road-construction projects or trying to harvest crops more efficiently, there are rental options that can cater to nearly any need.

9. Sharpen Your Competitive Edge

Many businesses bemoan the fact that it’s hard to compete against the big companies that have the nicest, newest, best machines while they, in comparison, make it work with older ones. Equipment rental can shift that age-old characteristic so that small competitors can procure the same type of equipment for jobs, if that’s what will win the work. If a client asks what machines you will use or about a key piece of equipment, you can rest assured knowing that you have access to a diverse, efficient and compliant fleet of machines, just like the bigger companies.

10. Avoid Long-term Commitment

The thought of a major, capital-equipment purchase can cause a little anxiety on the part of some business owners. Most new or used machines cost a lot of money and must be kept busy throughout their practical life, hopefully not being misused or abused. There are warranties to track, service-contract decisions to make, financing options to discern along with interest rates and several other points that make the prospect of buying one seem like too much long-term responsibility. Capital equipment is great to have on hand and at your disposal anytime, but it comes with the duties of maintenance, service, eventual sale or disposal, upgrades and adherence to regulation for all the years that you plan to own it. For business owners who have any apprehension about the longer-term obligations, renting equipment can be a great solution.

11. Eliminate Coordination Headaches

8   alleviate concernRental provides a win-win cycle for business because experts maintain and service the equipment so it is less likely to malfunction or break down. If something does go awry, the customer can call those same experts to figure out what’s wrong. Renting equipment can alleviate you of the concern and organization required to accomplish proper training, maintenance, service and scheduling of the machine. Everyone probably values differently the benefits of stress reduction and time gain, but that is one benefit many business owners or fleet managers would agree is created through renting equipment rather than buying it.

12. Gain Flexible Options

A number of factors demand flexibility in today’s business market, chief among them being a major recession, razor-thin profit margins, increasing regulations, market volatility, growing demand for specialized capabilities and the general quest to deliver quality service, great products and efficiency.

Renting equipment enables companies to respond to specialty niches, financial fluctuations and the ebbs and flows of demand. It’s an adaptable option, especially when explored through a cooperative relationship with a trusted equipment partner. The more functions a machine can perform, whether rented or bought, the more justified its expense will be. For example, one versatile body with interchangeable accessories that might dig, reach and lift would sooner be a justified expense than would a machine that does only one of those tasks.

13. Get the Latest and Greatest

Equipment that features up-to-date technology can benefit a business greatly by bringing efficiency and specialization to the project. A piece of rental equipment can potentially do a few specialized jobs so much better than general equipment that you gain in time saved as well as wear and tear on the machines.9   enjoy latest technology

Especially with Cat machines, you enjoy raw power and strength as well as precise performance for even the most delicate operations. The intuitive systems in today’s models deliver metrics and other business data that aid the actual work, such as digging guides and easy-change attachments. Many businesses tend to make do with whatever machines are nearby and/or owned by the company, but targeted equipment selection according to technology can potentially enable you to do many existing jobs with fewer pieces of machinery and in less time.

In the same way quality rental equipment can help you better compete in the market, renting also helps you avoid any risk of your machines becoming unusable or obsolete. A good rental partner continuously rotates machines off the fleet in order to have the most updated models and technology available so that you and your jobs benefit from the specialized capabilities.

14. See and Experience a Preview

Maybe your burgeoning business looks to grow and you’d like to see how certain models of equipment, attachments and accessories work. You can get a preview by renting the equipment, which will give you a feel for how it works, the time it takes, its usability and other things that might affect a purchase decision. For a hypothetical example, if you wanted to dig diamond-shaped ditches, you could try a few recommended machines and attachments before you purchase one or as you work your way into enough business to buy one.

15. Add Convenience, Hours

Managing even one piece of heavy equipment represents a lot of responsibility, much less a small or large fleet of machines. When you rent, things such as fluid checks, service, maintenance, hours count,  schedules, testing, parts and depreciation becomes someone else’s responsibility. Not only is it easier to let the professionals at a rental company handle some of those logistics for you, but also it frees up your valuable time and saves money in many cases.

Progress With a Professional Partner

As any business owner or manager might surmise, the key to successful rental is a wide and varied selection of machines, as well as the professionalism and experience of the partner they pick. Holt of California understands the demands placed upon industry. Caterpillar™ itself works to develop innovative machines, technology and techniques that help business keep moving forward.

From loaders, backhoes and excavators to power systems, lift trucks and attachment variety, we can deliver superior products, service and selection. While Holt of California is a certified Cat dealer for 16 California counties, we also carry a number of allied brands for a broader selection. We realize the importance of adherence to emissions standards and stay on top of the latest developments and changes so that we can be a resource to our customers about how to remain compliant and avoid trouble.

We are here to help with anything and everything we can, including rental contracts, agreements and options that can help get what you need to where you need it and when. Besides equipment rental, Holt of California fulfills a full range of needs across many industries with a comprehensive offering of new and used equipment for purchase:

  • Dozers, tracked and wheeled
  • Forestry machines
  • Graders
  • Harvesters
  • Lift trucks/forklifts
  • Loaders, tracked and wheeled
  • Planers
  • Power systems
  • Spreaders
  • Tractors
  • Trucks

Along with the basic machines come the attachments, accessories and features that can make your working life easier with everything from raw power to collected data. When it comes to construction equipment for rent in California, you certainly want to work with a partner you feel is dedicated and conscientious so that you realize advantages, satisfaction and ultimately, good business.

Browse Construction Rental Equipment

The quality of partner you pick will make a difference in how much benefit you’re able to achieve through equipment rental versus purchase of it, but Holt of California offers the reputation for integrity and expertise that clients seek along with other characteristics like product inventory, a positive business history and courteous service.

10   contact

Please don’t hesitate to contact us so we can discuss your needs and how Holt of California can help your business progress into the future. We would be happy to work up a quote and share more information about how to rent Cat equipment (or allied brands) and all the associated options. 

Contact Holt of California