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Equipment Hub: Don’t wait for winter

Dan Kakeraka for Progressive Dairy Published on 01 October 2020

The job isn’t over just because the temperatures drop. Harsh winter weather can have a harsh impact on your equipment, especially without the right maintenance.

If you don’t take the necessary precautions before the cold weather strikes, you could bring jobs to a halt and do serious damage to your machines.

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Protect your asset

Salt can be one of the most corrosive materials your equipment encounters. It can wreak havoc on your machine, costing not only downtime but your machine’s resale value as well. Fasteners, hydraulic fittings, hoses and electrical wiring that are unprotected are at a high risk for rust and corrosion.

For that reason, it’s best to wash your equipment as often as possible to rinse off any materials that may have built up on components during operation. It’s worth the extra time it takes to clean off the machine after operation to keep it in tip-top shape.

Fluids are equally important to a machine’s health

You’ll need an engine oil viscosity that matches the temp outside. A 10W-30 is a common factory fill that performs down to minus 20ºF. If you need something for more harsh conditions, use a 10W-40 synthetic oil. This will typically protect you to 35 below.

Antifreeze is just as important for your equipment as it is for your car or truck. Make sure you top it off before the weather turns. Make sure to keep the fuel tank topped off to minimize condensation buildup in the tank and routinely remove water from the fuel filter.

If there is ever a doubt on what kind of fluid to place in your machine, refer to your operator’s manual for clarification.

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Tires, tracks and attachments

It’s well known that when temperatures drop, so does the air pressure in tires. One of the first physical signs of cold weather will be your equipment’s sagging tires. Low tire pressure can result into lower lift and push capabilities, especially for those rental customers who intend to use their equipment for clearing snow.

Regular checks and adjustments of your track tension are crucial. Improperly fitted tracks can cause several issues, whether the track is too tight or too loose. A track that is too loose may jump over the sprocket rollers and cause premature wear-and-tear – too tight and the undercarriage will wear at a faster pace.

The undercarriage of your equipment represents 40% to 60% of the maintenance costs over the machine’s life. To maximize your machine’s efficiency in the winter, and to extend the machine’s life cycle, proper undercarriage maintenance is essential.

Operators should make daily inspections and keep it clean of any mud, snow or debris. Look closely for loose or worn parts. Those responsible for fleets should check the owner’s manual for the proper psi or track tension and adjust the tires or tracks accordingly.

Attachments like snowblowers, snow blades and angle brooms are some of the most popular and hardest-working tools in the winter, and deserve the same attention as the equipment running it.

Visually check the attachment components such as hoses, cylinders and guards, broom bristles, cutting blades and edges so you can determine if wear is developing or damage has occurred.

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Skid steers and attachments: Rent or buy?

There are plenty of options when it comes to equipment acquisition, but there is no one right answer that will work for everyone. The decision to rent or purchase a skid-steer loader and/or attachment involves many of the same financial considerations.

When does it make sense to rent?

Renting is a great option if you have a one-time job or are looking to fill short-term equipment needs without the added worry of ownership costs – maintenance, storage, etc.– which are all carried by the dealer in a rental situation. Another advantage is that rental houses often have the latest machines and attachments available to rent, so it can be a good way to try out the latest equipment before making a purchase decision.

While renting has some real benefits, it is important to understand rental agreements can also come with limitations. Rental agreements often have hour caps and the payments are considerably higher than a finance payment.

When does it make sense to buy?

Purchasing a skid steer or attachment can offer a variety of advantages. Ownership typically offers the highest degree of flexibility – the owner is ultimately in control of all aspects of total cost of ownership. The owner oversees maintaining the equipment to ensure maximum uptime and resale value. Another benefit of purchasing equipment is that operators become more familiar with them over time, which can improve productivity.

Another consideration is that while down payments can tie up capital or lines of credit, the monthly payments will be lower than rental payments. You can also talk with your dealer about other potential financing options which may be available to you, like deferred payments, skip payments, package deals or rent-to-own plans that best optimize cash flow.

What’s the best decision?

Any type of equipment decision requires careful consideration and planning, and investing in a skid steer and attachments is no different. If selected properly, a skid steer or attachment can provide greater versatility and profitability. When evaluating whether to rent or buy equipment, focus on what provides the best return on your investment and enhances the productivity of your operation. No matter what your decision, your dealer can provide the equipment and attachments that will work for you.  end mark

Dan Kakeraka is a product specialist with New Holland Construction.

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