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Guide to Choosing the Right Commercial Generator

Guide to Choosing the Right Commercial Generator

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The right commercial generator can be a major asset to any business. A generator can provide the electricity you need to keep the lights on, power industrial machinery, and more — even when the power grid fails.

If you're shopping for a generator to power your commercial operations, we're here to help you through the process with our guide to picking a commercial generator. We'll look at some of the key factors for understanding how to buy an industrial generator so you can make an informed decision that helps you keep your operations running smoothly at all times. 

Before you start shopping, the first step is to understand your company's needs. The main consideration is what type of power you need from your generator.

How to Choose a Commercial Generator — Assessing Your Needs

Before you start shopping, the first step is to understand your company's needs. The main consideration is what type of power you need from your generator. Are you looking for a primary source of power or a backup option in case of power outages? If you want a backup option, do you need that power to kick on automatically to minimize the disruption in power? Or maybe you want some supplementary power to help you meet peak demands.

You also want to understand how much power you need to support your operations. Beyond these basic needs, you should consider what sort of setup and features you would prefer in a generator. You can learn more about the options that are available as you compare models.

Finally, you also need to consider your budget. Generators come in a wide range of price points. Keep in mind that a higher upfront price for a generator that requires less maintenance and lasts longer may give you a better return on your investment over time than one with a lower price tag.

Generator Fuel Types

Generator Fuel Types

One of the primary ways of categorizing generators is by the fuel they run on. After all, buying a commercial generator involves more than the upfront cost of the unit — it also includes the ongoing cost of fuel. Each fuel type comes with its own advantages and potential disadvantages. Let's take a look at five different types of generators so you can be one step closer to choosing the right commercial generator for your needs.

1. Diesel

Diesel is an especially popular option for commercial generators. While the price of diesel is generally higher than natural gas or gasoline, diesel offers exceptional fuel efficiency. In other words, you can expect a diesel generator to run longer and generate more electricity than another generator could using the same amount of alternative fuel. Diesel generators are also valued for their ability to fire up quickly, provide dependable performance and offer high power outputs. 

Some companies may forego diesel generators because of the emissions they produce. Diesel generators can also struggle in extreme temperatures. However, diesel generators are reliable and efficient overall, making them a great option to consider.

2. Natural Gas

Natural gas has more recently become a popular option for powering generators. According to the National Renewable Energy Laboratory, the availability of natural gas is even more reliable than diesel fuel. Plus, the price tends to fluctuate far less than diesel and gasoline prices. Natural gas is also a more eco-friendly option since it burns cleaner than diesel. Unlike diesel and gasoline, natural gas is not a fuel you store on-site. Instead, you need to hook into a natural gas line.

If your company doesn't have easy access to a natural gas line, it could be a possible downside to owning a natural gas generator. Another downside is that these generators can take a bit longer to start up. If you're using your generator for standby power, this can mean a short gap between losing power and regaining power from your generator.

3. Gasoline

Gasoline generators are another popular option. Similar to natural gas, gasoline prices tend to be lower than diesel, which can be appealing. Gasoline is also relatively clean burning and offers good fuel economy. Gas-powered generators can operate well in extreme temperatures.

While gasoline generators offer some advantages, they may not offer the power output you need for commercial applications. Additionally, gasoline prices have been known to fluctuate dramatically at times. For this reason, you may opt to stock up on gasoline when prices are low. This can be a good strategy, but gasoline is highly flammable, so you must store it carefully. Gasoline also has a limited shelf life, even if you store it properly and use additives.

4. Propane

A less common fuel option for generators is propane. Typically, propane generators are small, so you aren't likely to find propane options when buying a commercial generator. Propane has an unlimited shelf life and is relatively clean burning. Plus, propane generators tend to run quietly. 

Why is propane not a popular option for industrial generators? The answer mainly comes down to cost. Propane is more costly than other fuel options, and it's not as energy efficient as diesel. This poses more of a problem if you're using a generator to meet ongoing needs for electricity rather than using it on occasion when your primary source of power fails.

5. Dual Fuel

Some generators are designed to run on two types of fuel. The two types could be diesel and natural gas or gasoline and propane, for example. The generator will use one fuel type, and if that fuel runs out, it will begin using the other fuel so the generator can stay on. These generators can give you more flexibility since you can choose the fuel type that's more affordable or accessible at a given time. 

These generators can be appealing for their flexibility, but they aren't as common as generators designed specifically for one fuel type. Some prominent generator manufacturers don't produce dual fuel generators.

Generator Sizing

If you know what type of generator you want, your next question is likely, "What size commercial generator do I need?" Let's look at how to size a commercial generator. The word "size" may make you think of the physical footprint of a generator. While physical size is a factor that will matter to some companies with limited space, generally, generator sizing refers to a generator's output. You want to choose a generator that produces the right amount of electrical power to meet your needs. 

There are a few terms related to sizing that are helpful to understand as you compare generators:

  • Maximum power: Generators are capable of a certain maximum power output. It's important to understand the difference in this number and the rated power, which we'll look at next. The key thing to note here is that you should not plan on operating a generator at its maximum power output long term. A generator can only generate that much power for short periods of time when needed. 
  • Rated power: A generator's rated power will be a bit lower than the maximum power output. This rating is also called the "constant load" or "continuous load." It's the amount of power you can actually count on your generator to produce over long periods of time, so it's the better number to pay attention to compared to maximum power.
  • Wattage: Whether maximum or rated power, a generator's output is measured in watts. Manufacturers multiply the generator's voltage by its load capacity in amperage to determine its wattage. In other words, volts multiplied by amps equals watts. The devices you power should indicate on the packaging or in the owner's manual how many watts of electricity they need to operate.
  • Single-phase system: All generators produce electrical power in waves. Single-phase systems produce one wave at a time. The wave swells to peak power and then falls down to zero before starting again. In reality, these dips in power happen so rapidly that they are virtually undetectable. However, single-phase systems are limited in the amount of power they can provide, which makes them less common options for commercial generators.
  • Three-phase system: With a three-phase system, you get a more consistent stream of power because there are three waves going at once. When one wave is falling, another is at its peak, so you never experience a dip in power. These systems are more complex and are capable of a higher power output. Most businesses will need a three-phase system for commercial applications.

So, how can you know how to size a generator for your industrial facility? One method is to create a detailed list of all the devices you need to power along with the starting wattage and running wattage each device requires. Then, you can add these devices' power needs together to determine how much electricity you need for your operations. 

An easier option if you've already been operating in your facility for some time is to look at your past electric bills. Look at bills from the past 12 months, if you can. See if the utility company notes your peak demand, measured in watts, on each month's bill. Find the month with the highest peak demand and use this as an indicator of your power needs. 

It's smart to get a generator that can handle a bit more than your peak demand or the total you came up with so you have some leeway in case your power demands increase.

Stationary vs. Mobile Setups

As we discussed earlier, buying an industrial generator starts with assessing your needs. Do you plan to use the generator for backup power or as a constant power supply? The answer to this question can help you determine whether to choose a stationary generator or a portable one.

If you have a generator on-hand to provide power in emergency situations when your main power source fails, you may be able to get by with a mobile setup. However, even if you're using a generator for standby power, you may still want to choose a stationary generator so it can remain at the ready and automatically switch on as soon as you need it. 

Control Systems and Features

Choosing the right industrial generator also comes down to understanding the specific features you want. There are plenty of features that can distinguish one generator from another, even if they share the same power capacity and fuel type. Various types of control systems, digital features and more can add selling points for different generator brands and models.

For example, some generators allow you to start them remotely. You can also look for generators with remote monitoring, where you can track your generator's performance through software online or through an app and receive notifications when the fuel gets low or there is an issue. You can also look for a generator with an LCD or LED display with a navigable menu or one with an automatic shut-off safety feature.

If there are certain features you're looking for, keep these in mind when picking a commercial generator. 

Sound Levels: For commercial facilities that want to keep noise levels down, a generator stationed outside may not cause much disturbance inside.

Sound Levels

Another factor to consider when you're comparing generators is how noisy they are. Industrial facilities can be noisy places anyway, so it may seem inconsequential if you're getting a generator for your manufacturing facility. For commercial facilities that want to keep noise levels down, a generator stationed outside may not cause much disturbance inside.

However, some facilities may have noise ordinances to contend with. If you're located within a jurisdiction where there are limits on the noise you can legally produce, you'll need to make sure you choose a generator that won't exceed these limits. Fortunately, there are generator models that offer quieter operation.

New, Used and Rental Options

When you start shopping for a generator, you'll find you can buy new or used models, or you can rent generators to meet a temporary need. Even if you're planning to purchase a generator, renting at first can be a good idea so you can test out a particular model and see how you like it before making a purchase.

If you plan to use a generator long term or want to have one hooked up at all times for standby power, you should purchase a model that meets your needs. Recent models may come with better fuel efficiency and more state-of-the-art features than older models, but you may be able to purchase a used generator that is a fairly recent model. Buying a used generator can save you money if you're working within a tight budget. Many companies prefer to purchase a new generator, however, if their budget allows.

Choose Generators From Holt of California

Choose Generators From Holt of California

Hopefully, you have a more solid understanding of how to buy a commercial generator that will deliver on your needs and expectations. At Holt of California, we carry a wide selection of Cat® power systems to help businesses like yours power operations and avoid downtime in a blackout. Caterpillar designs and manufactures generators that can perform consistently in heavy-duty applications. 

We also offer used and rental options for power systems, and our team can even configure a custom solution to meet your specific needs. Contact us online or call 800-452-5888 to speak to our knowledgeable staff today. 

Construction Equipment Safety Tips

Construction Equipment Safety Tips

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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.

Be Safe With Holt of California. Contact Us Online.

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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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.

Quick Navigation: Types of Construction Equipment

  1. Articulated Trucks
  2. Asphalt Pavers
  3. Backhoe Loaders
  4. Cold Planers
  5. Compact Track and Multi-Terrain Loaders
  6. Compactors
  7. Dozers
  8. Excavators
  9. Feller Bunchers
  10. Forwarders
  11. Harvesters
  12. Knuckleboom Loaders
  13. Loaders
  14. Motor Graders
  15. Off-Highway Trucks
  16. Skid Steer Loaders
  17. Skidders
  18. Telehandlers
  19. Wheel Tractor-Scrapers

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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Construction Equipment Maintenance Tips

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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

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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. 

Contact Holt of California