- Category: News
The right commercial generator can be a major asset to any business. A generator can provide the electricity you need to keep the lights on, power industrial machinery, and more — even when the power grid fails.
If you're shopping for a generator to power your commercial operations, we're here to help you through the process with our guide to picking a commercial generator. We'll look at some of the key factors for understanding how to buy an industrial generator so you can make an informed decision that helps you keep your operations running smoothly at all times.
How to Choose a Commercial Generator — Assessing Your Needs
Before you start shopping, the first step is to understand your company's needs. The main consideration is what type of power you need from your generator. Are you looking for a primary source of power or a backup option in case of power outages? If you want a backup option, do you need that power to kick on automatically to minimize the disruption in power? Or maybe you want some supplementary power to help you meet peak demands.
You also want to understand how much power you need to support your operations. Beyond these basic needs, you should consider what sort of setup and features you would prefer in a generator. You can learn more about the options that are available as you compare models.
Finally, you also need to consider your budget. Generators come in a wide range of price points. Keep in mind that a higher upfront price for a generator that requires less maintenance and lasts longer may give you a better return on your investment over time than one with a lower price tag.
Generator Fuel Types
One of the primary ways of categorizing generators is by the fuel they run on. After all, buying a commercial generator involves more than the upfront cost of the unit — it also includes the ongoing cost of fuel. Each fuel type comes with its own advantages and potential disadvantages. Let's take a look at five different types of generators so you can be one step closer to choosing the right commercial generator for your needs.
Diesel is an especially popular option for commercial generators. While the price of diesel is generally higher than natural gas or gasoline, diesel offers exceptional fuel efficiency. In other words, you can expect a diesel generator to run longer and generate more electricity than another generator could using the same amount of alternative fuel. Diesel generators are also valued for their ability to fire up quickly, provide dependable performance and offer high power outputs.
Some companies may forego diesel generators because of the emissions they produce. Diesel generators can also struggle in extreme temperatures. However, diesel generators are reliable and efficient overall, making them a great option to consider.
2. Natural Gas
Natural gas has more recently become a popular option for powering generators. According to the National Renewable Energy Laboratory, the availability of natural gas is even more reliable than diesel fuel. Plus, the price tends to fluctuate far less than diesel and gasoline prices. Natural gas is also a more eco-friendly option since it burns cleaner than diesel. Unlike diesel and gasoline, natural gas is not a fuel you store on-site. Instead, you need to hook into a natural gas line.
If your company doesn't have easy access to a natural gas line, it could be a possible downside to owning a natural gas generator. Another downside is that these generators can take a bit longer to start up. If you're using your generator for standby power, this can mean a short gap between losing power and regaining power from your generator.
Gasoline generators are another popular option. Similar to natural gas, gasoline prices tend to be lower than diesel, which can be appealing. Gasoline is also relatively clean burning and offers good fuel economy. Gas-powered generators can operate well in extreme temperatures.
While gasoline generators offer some advantages, they may not offer the power output you need for commercial applications. Additionally, gasoline prices have been known to fluctuate dramatically at times. For this reason, you may opt to stock up on gasoline when prices are low. This can be a good strategy, but gasoline is highly flammable, so you must store it carefully. Gasoline also has a limited shelf life, even if you store it properly and use additives.
A less common fuel option for generators is propane. Typically, propane generators are small, so you aren't likely to find propane options when buying a commercial generator. Propane has an unlimited shelf life and is relatively clean burning. Plus, propane generators tend to run quietly.
Why is propane not a popular option for industrial generators? The answer mainly comes down to cost. Propane is more costly than other fuel options, and it's not as energy efficient as diesel. This poses more of a problem if you're using a generator to meet ongoing needs for electricity rather than using it on occasion when your primary source of power fails.
5. Dual Fuel
Some generators are designed to run on two types of fuel. The two types could be diesel and natural gas or gasoline and propane, for example. The generator will use one fuel type, and if that fuel runs out, it will begin using the other fuel so the generator can stay on. These generators can give you more flexibility since you can choose the fuel type that's more affordable or accessible at a given time.
These generators can be appealing for their flexibility, but they aren't as common as generators designed specifically for one fuel type. Some prominent generator manufacturers don't produce dual fuel generators.
If you know what type of generator you want, your next question is likely, "What size commercial generator do I need?" Let's look at how to size a commercial generator. The word "size" may make you think of the physical footprint of a generator. While physical size is a factor that will matter to some companies with limited space, generally, generator sizing refers to a generator's output. You want to choose a generator that produces the right amount of electrical power to meet your needs.
There are a few terms related to sizing that are helpful to understand as you compare generators:
- Maximum power: Generators are capable of a certain maximum power output. It's important to understand the difference in this number and the rated power, which we'll look at next. The key thing to note here is that you should not plan on operating a generator at its maximum power output long term. A generator can only generate that much power for short periods of time when needed.
- Rated power: A generator's rated power will be a bit lower than the maximum power output. This rating is also called the "constant load" or "continuous load." It's the amount of power you can actually count on your generator to produce over long periods of time, so it's the better number to pay attention to compared to maximum power.
- Wattage: Whether maximum or rated power, a generator's output is measured in watts. Manufacturers multiply the generator's voltage by its load capacity in amperage to determine its wattage. In other words, volts multiplied by amps equals watts. The devices you power should indicate on the packaging or in the owner's manual how many watts of electricity they need to operate.
- Single-phase system: All generators produce electrical power in waves. Single-phase systems produce one wave at a time. The wave swells to peak power and then falls down to zero before starting again. In reality, these dips in power happen so rapidly that they are virtually undetectable. However, single-phase systems are limited in the amount of power they can provide, which makes them less common options for commercial generators.
- Three-phase system: With a three-phase system, you get a more consistent stream of power because there are three waves going at once. When one wave is falling, another is at its peak, so you never experience a dip in power. These systems are more complex and are capable of a higher power output. Most businesses will need a three-phase system for commercial applications.
So, how can you know how to size a generator for your industrial facility? One method is to create a detailed list of all the devices you need to power along with the starting wattage and running wattage each device requires. Then, you can add these devices' power needs together to determine how much electricity you need for your operations.
An easier option if you've already been operating in your facility for some time is to look at your past electric bills. Look at bills from the past 12 months, if you can. See if the utility company notes your peak demand, measured in watts, on each month's bill. Find the month with the highest peak demand and use this as an indicator of your power needs.
It's smart to get a generator that can handle a bit more than your peak demand or the total you came up with so you have some leeway in case your power demands increase.
Stationary vs. Mobile Setups
As we discussed earlier, buying an industrial generator starts with assessing your needs. Do you plan to use the generator for backup power or as a constant power supply? The answer to this question can help you determine whether to choose a stationary generator or a portable one.
If you have a generator on-hand to provide power in emergency situations when your main power source fails, you may be able to get by with a mobile setup. However, even if you're using a generator for standby power, you may still want to choose a stationary generator so it can remain at the ready and automatically switch on as soon as you need it.
Control Systems and Features
Choosing the right industrial generator also comes down to understanding the specific features you want. There are plenty of features that can distinguish one generator from another, even if they share the same power capacity and fuel type. Various types of control systems, digital features and more can add selling points for different generator brands and models.
For example, some generators allow you to start them remotely. You can also look for generators with remote monitoring, where you can track your generator's performance through software online or through an app and receive notifications when the fuel gets low or there is an issue. You can also look for a generator with an LCD or LED display with a navigable menu or one with an automatic shut-off safety feature.
If there are certain features you're looking for, keep these in mind when picking a commercial generator.
Another factor to consider when you're comparing generators is how noisy they are. Industrial facilities can be noisy places anyway, so it may seem inconsequential if you're getting a generator for your manufacturing facility. For commercial facilities that want to keep noise levels down, a generator stationed outside may not cause much disturbance inside.
However, some facilities may have noise ordinances to contend with. If you're located within a jurisdiction where there are limits on the noise you can legally produce, you'll need to make sure you choose a generator that won't exceed these limits. Fortunately, there are generator models that offer quieter operation.
New, Used and Rental Options
When you start shopping for a generator, you'll find you can buy new or used models, or you can rent generators to meet a temporary need. Even if you're planning to purchase a generator, renting at first can be a good idea so you can test out a particular model and see how you like it before making a purchase.
If you plan to use a generator long term or want to have one hooked up at all times for standby power, you should purchase a model that meets your needs. Recent models may come with better fuel efficiency and more state-of-the-art features than older models, but you may be able to purchase a used generator that is a fairly recent model. Buying a used generator can save you money if you're working within a tight budget. Many companies prefer to purchase a new generator, however, if their budget allows.
Choose Generators From Holt of California
Hopefully, you have a more solid understanding of how to buy a commercial generator that will deliver on your needs and expectations. At Holt of California, we carry a wide selection of Cat® power systems to help businesses like yours power operations and avoid downtime in a blackout. Caterpillar designs and manufactures generators that can perform consistently in heavy-duty applications.
We also offer used and rental options for power systems, and our team can even configure a custom solution to meet your specific needs. Contact us online or call 800-452-5888 to speak to our knowledgeable staff today.
- Category: News
The Importance of Heavy Equipment Safety
Hazards When Working Around Heavy Equipment
1. Mechanical Hazards
2. Non-Mechanical Hazards
3. Access Hazards
Communication and Heavy Equipment Safety
Construction Equipment Safety Tips
Heavy Equipment Safety Tips for Specific Machinery
2. Skid Steer Loaders
3. Motor Graders
Be Safe With Holt of California
- Category: News
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
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.
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
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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
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.
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.
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
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
- Category: News
Owning and operating construction equipment is an expensive investment. Even a small construction company can have hundreds of thousands of dollars tied up in equipment. A large operation might have millions invested in construction equipment. Aside from the cost of purchasing and running machinery, there’s also the cost of performing routine and preventive heavy equipment maintenance. It’s an investment that can’t be neglected.
Smart construction company owners realize just how important it is to maintain their equipment. They know what they put into their equipment maintenance program completely pays back. The return on their maintenance investment is huge, and that’s important regardless of company size.
There are many reasons for the importance of construction equipment maintenance. There's also lots of advice available on maintaining construction equipment. Our top tips include implementing a preventive maintenance program and knowing the causes of equipment failure.
Why Is It Important to Do Preventive Maintenance?
First of all, there are two types of construction equipment maintenance. Construction companies practice routine maintenance and preventive maintenance. The two maintenance types go hand-in-hand but there’s a distinct difference. Here is what each maintenance type involves:
- Routine Maintenance: This type refers to the regular maintenance that all construction equipment undergoes on a fixed schedule. The usual maintenance tasks are oil and filter changes as wells as lubrication, checking fluid levels and testing pressures. Routine maintenance also includes procedures laid out in the manufacturer’s operation manual. That might include fluid or failure analysis.
- Preventive Maintenance: Outside of routine maintenance work, equipment preventive maintenance takes a broader scope. Construction equipment preventive maintenance looks for problems in the making. Then mechanics or service technicians take steps to stop or prevent potential machine failure. They take preventive action before something goes seriously wrong.
The importance of preventive maintenance can’t be overstated. Everyone’s familiar with a saying that an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure. Better put in the construction world is that a dollar of cure comes from a dime of prevention. Here are the main reasons why it’s so important to conduct preventive maintenance on construction equipment:
- Longevity: Performing routine and preventive maintenance on construction equipment and machinery makes them last longer. There’s absolutely no argument that properly maintained machines and various construction equipment pieces have greater longevity than poorly kept ones. Regularly servicing machines extends their life, and that extends their availability. Preventing problems ensures that equipment is always available when needed.
- Availability: Any construction equipment that suddenly breaks down is unavailable for service. That makes them not only unprofitable due to unavailability, it makes them expensive to pull from service and make unexpected repairs. Often, the equipment operator sits idle while their machine is not available to work. That causes compounded expenses in human and equipment downtime.
- Expenses: When construction equipment suddenly fails and breaks down, it causes unplanned expenses. Usually, unexpected failures are serious problems that aren’t cheap to repair. Poorly maintained equipment is notorious for causing compound failures. That’s where one problem creates another problem. Compounded problems are expensive issues, and could easily be prevented through careful maintenance. They also create poor confidence in workers.
- Confidence: To be productive, construction equipment operators have to be confident in their machines’ performance. No worker likes operating poorly maintained equipment. It’s human nature for workers to increase performance and output when they know their machines are reliable. Confident workers are also careful workers. They watch out for signs of potential problems and report issues before they become unnecessary expenses. Confident workers are also safer operators. They appreciate the safety stemming from equipment that’s part of a preventive maintenance program.
- Safety: Safety is highly important in every workplace. Proper safety procedures are especially necessary when working with heavy machinery and on construction sites. As with longevity, there’s no question that well-maintained construction equipment is safer than neglected machinery. Sudden equipment failure can easily cause serious injury to its operator or anyone in the line of fire. Failing construction equipment can also cause expensive damage to other machines, buildings or surrounding property. That can result in litigation resulting from a lack of preventive maintenance.
- Litigation: No one wants to go to court and risk ending up paying for damages due to lawsuits. Neglecting to do regular servicing and preventive maintenance on your construction equipment is an accident waiting to happen. And accidents often result in expensive legal procedures. Litigation is preventable as long as a construction company practices due diligence and addresses any potential for negligence on their part. Part of due diligence is ensuring that all equipment undergoes a routine and preventive maintenance program on a regular basis. Companies will also want to keep maintenance records and schedules.
Prepare a Routine and Preventive Maintenance Program
A well-established program involving routine and preventive maintenance steps extends construction equipment longevity and ensures availability. A good preventive maintenance program also lowers overall company expenses, increases worker confidence and improves safety. It also decreases the potential for litigation should something go wrong.
There’s nothing complicated about preparing a routine and preventive maintenance program. It revolves around a construction company’s commitment to maintaining its inventory and taking positive steps to follow through. A routine and preventive maintenance program simply lays out a prescribed plan and establishes ways to ensure it’s carried out.
A company’s commitment always starts with ownership and management. Once workers see and believe that a construction company is serious about its maintenance program, they’ll naturally buy in. Total buy-in results in a team approach where every organization member watches out for problems and pitches in to prevent them. It’s a win-win situation that no construction company should ignore.
Although routine and preventive maintenance tasks are somewhat separate entities, they’re tied together by a common denominator. That’s the act of inspections where careful eyes catch issues during routine maintenance tasks. That way they intervene in a routine role and transition to prevention. They step in and fix machines before they break down.
Preparing a preventive and routine maintenance program entails four steps. Combined, each step ensures overall program success and efficiency. Here are four consideration points for implementing a long-term and effective construction equipment maintenance program:
- Determine what the program covers:There are three main activities in a maintenance program. First is listing what routine maintenance tasks each machine requires. This usually involves milestones like hours, mileage or season changes. The second step is prescribing inspections. This is a fluid task that depends on the various machines and service technician experience. Thirdly, the program acts to replace worn parts or make adjustments to correct potential problems.
- Identify responsibility for administering the program:This depends on the company’s size and capability. Large construction companies with considerable equipment inventory generally have a head mechanic or senior service technician. That person is in the best position to take leadership and administrative responsibility. Small companies should take top-end responsibility where the owner or foreman runs the preventive maintenance program. Regardless of size, the important point is ensuring someone is clearly in charge and responsible for administration.
- Making a schedule for service milestones:Routine equipment maintenance requires consistent scheduling. Intervals or schedule dates rely on individual information about a particular machine. That could be from following a manufacturer guideline, responding to seasonal fluctuations or knowing a machine’s realistic requirements. Maintenance milestones usually revolve around operation hours or travel length. Scheduling maintenance around milestones allows a company manager to anticipate when the equipment will be unavailable. Good scheduling also allows responding technicians to plan for regular servicing and prepare for preventive inspections.
- Documenting service work and preventive maintenance:Documenting service work is a critical part of a preventive maintenance program. Keeping records on each machine gives a clear picture of the equipment’s history. Documentation also records when preventive maintenance intervention happened and what was accomplished. These maintenance records build a pattern of machinery behavior, and they clearly predict potential problems in similar machines. Documents also prove proactive maintenance tasks that support a machine’s value at resale.
Make a Comprehensive Equipment Maintenance Checklist
There’s no doubt that checklists work and offer value to your company. Progressive construction companies benefit when they make comprehensive equipment maintenance checklists part of their routine and preventive maintenance program.
There’s no one-size-fits-all checklist for construction equipment maintenance. Each machine has individual needs and characteristics that require attention. Although many checklist templates are available online, most service administrators prefer to make unique maintenance checklists according to their company's equipment.
How comprehensive your checklist is depends on the particular equipment piece and what type of maintenance it’s scheduled to have. For instance, regular short hour and mileage service intervals might just check-off oil changes, lubrication and fluid top-offs. Mid-range service milestones will require in-depth inspections that go into greater detail.
Major service overhauls and rebuilds require multiple-point and more comprehensive checklists. They cover front-to-back and top-to-bottom inspections that allow technicians or mechanics to dig deep in search of problems. A good checklist layout ensures all equipment parts are examined. Many companies use an alphabetical approach that covers these equipment components and machinery systems. Categories include:
Involve Operators and Mechanical Technicians in the Maintenance Program
No one is more familiar with construction equipment than the professionals who operate or repair them. Operators and mechanical technicians are in the best position to recognize and anticipate problems based on their knowledge, experience and intuition. Every routine and preventive maintenance program must include the mechanics and machine operators.
As long as these ground-level employees see that their company’s management shows a genuine commitment to a preventive maintenance program, they’ll commit as well. Committed workers behave differently than those who are merely compliant. Operators and mechanics who feel involved and empowered will take proactive action in identifying issues. They’ll report potential problems before they become disasters.
Listening to operators and mechanics is a key part of a preventive maintenance program. They’re acutely aware of how their machinery should perform and how it is performing. Operators will sense when equipment problems are developing. Based on their experience with similar machinery, mechanics will know what to look for during routine inspections.
Combined, machine operators and technicians can discuss and identify issues in their equipment. They’re able to take proactive action where operators report pending problems in time for technicians to intervene. Involving operators and mechanical technicians in the maintenance program can save construction companies a lot of money in unnecessary repairs.
Know the Major Types and Causes of Construction Equipment Failure
Developing and implementing a routine and preventive maintenance program involves understanding the organizational steps and what’s involved in building a comprehensive construction equipment checklist. Getting equipment operators and machinery technicians committed to the maintenance program is also vitally important. Together, committed people and comprehensive systems make for a successful process. They’re the foundation of every solid plan.
But truly committed program administrators take their commitment a step further. They strive to learn the overall picture of what causes equipment failure. That way their proactive response is on heightened alert. Genuinely dedicated managers know neglect usually results in equipment failure. They also know there are three types of construction equipment failure:
- Sudden Failure:This is the most serious and damaging type of equipment failure. It happens with little warning and no contingency plan for response. Sudden failure leaves the machine unavailable until it’s repaired and put back in service. Unexpected costs range from machine and operator downtime to mechanic fees and parts charges. Most sudden equipment failures happen because some component wore out and caused a chain reaction. Usually, sudden failures are preventable by recognizing flaws during routine inspections.
- Intermittent Failure:This equipment failure type is sporadic. There are intermittent operation interruptions that stall a machine or cause it to sputter. Often, experienced operators and service personnel recognize intermittent failure symptoms and take immediate steps to correct the problem. Less experienced workers sometimes ignore warning signs and neglect to report them. That leads to sudden failure, immediate downtime and unnecessary repair expenses.
- Gradual Failure:This failure type happens slowly and over time. Operators and the support team recognize gradual failure as part of the wear-and-tear process that affects every piece of construction equipment. It’s rare that gradual failure leads directly to sudden failure, but it’s the first step toward intermittent equipment failure. Fortunately, gradual machine failure is easy to recognize and repair. It’s time-forgiving and gives plenty of warning. Sharp inspectors always watch for gradual failure during routine and preventive maintenance schedules.
Another important heavy equipment maintenance tip is to understand the main equipment failure causes. These critical causes are different than the failure types. Rather than failure classifications, actual causes of machine break-down and failures have three distinct groups.
Equipment failure causes are identifiable. As such, they can be somewhat predicted and prevented by removing or compensating for the cause. Sometimes, one cause leads to the next or failure can be due to a combination of these three things:
- Thermally-Induced Failure:Extreme heat and cold take a terrible toll on heavy machinery and other construction equipment. Cold-weather starts and hot-temperature running is hard on all machines. Often, temperature extremes push machinery beyond their design limits. Then stress failure happens, and it’s usually without warning. The remedy for preventing thermally-induced failure is knowing the machine’s limits and operating within them.
- Mechanically-Induced Failure:This failure cause is easy to recognize. It happens when a machine’s component snaps, breaks or otherwise fails due to overstretching its mechanical capacity. Burst hydraulic hoses and bent blades are prime mechanically-induced failure examples. Many times mechanically-induced failures happen from a lack of lubrication, operator overexertion or collision with other equipment. Fortunately, mechanically-induced failure is readily recognized and preventable with proper training and inspecting.
- Erratic Failure:It’s difficult to detect or predict erratic equipment failure. It occurs randomly and with no clear pattern. Erratic failures are usually caused by some partly-malfunctioning component. It could be something as simple as a loose wire resulting in an intermittent electrical short or something complex and deeply hidden like a defective computer chip. Operators should always report erratic failures immediately so technicians can investigate before they become costly.
Training Employees to Properly Operate Construction Equipment
There’s probably no better return on construction equipment investment than training. Employees who know how to properly operate their machines and to watch for problems are invaluable. They are the front-line defenders of a company’s mechanical assets.
It takes time to properly train an equipment operator. There’s time involved in verbal instruction. There’s time involved in demonstration. And there’s time involved in the learning curve while a new operator gets the hang of their machine. All this time investment is worth it, especially in the big picture of safety and prevention.
Trained operators are more careful workers. They know their machine’s capacity and capability. They also know how to safely use the machine and avoid costly damage to property and injuries to people. Trained operators also recognize when a machine requires routine and preventive maintenance. They’ll report every issue and start prevention steps before there’s a big problem.
Review Original Equipment Manufacturers’ Manuals
Manuals from the original equipment manufacturers provide a wealth of knowledge. Manufacturers know these machines because they’ve built them. Long before a construction equipment piece hits the operator’s hands, the manufacturers invested a lot of time and money in research and development. They know the machine through and through.
Original manufacturers also know what maintenance their machines require. This information should be clearly documented in the owners’ manual. Recommended service intervals will be charted, and important milestones will be highlighted. Manuals are a great resource when developing a routine and preventive maintenance program.
However, as thorough as an original equipment owner’s manual might be, it still doesn’t replace the human skill and knowledge required to keep up with active construction equipment. Good preventive maintenance administrators use a machine’s manual as a guideline. They don’t see it as a restrictive frame that prevents turning to outside sources for help in building a construction equipment maintenance team.
Make Holt of California a Construction Equipment Maintenance Team Partner
Holt of California is a proud partner in the worldwide Cat® dealer group. We employ over 700 people who bring the best construction equipment solutions to valued customers in sixteen counties across North Central California. Our business sells and services all forms of Cat construction equipment and we also rent quality Cat products.
Make sure to check out all Holt of California Cat services and browse our new Cat construction equipment. We have five separate equipment divisions including Agriculture, Earthmoving, Material Handling, Power Systems and the Cat Rental Store. At Holt of California, we take pride in giving superior customer service. We meet our customers’ changing needs by offering a full line of services and products.
One of Holt of California’s leading services is our repair options. We partner with you to service your Cat brand equipment and support your routine and preventive construction equipment maintenance program. Have a look at our construction maintenance services that includes Holt of California’s main, specialization and welding shops as well as our field service and equipment management solutions.
For more information on Holt of California and Cat construction equipment preventive maintenance, call us today at 800-452-5888 or connect with us through our online contact form.
- Category: News
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
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
Buying 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.
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.
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
Buying 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:
- Model/serial number
- 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
Since 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:
- 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.
- Per 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:
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.
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
If 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.