My department's responsibility is to maintain and repair more than 400 pieces of farm-related equipment, including utility ATVs, lawnmowers, tractors and multiple implements. We also maintain numerous pieces of research plot equipment. Equipment reliability in relation to research projects is important. Preventative maintenance is the key to our success.
The term "preventive maintenance," commonly refers to the practice of regularly servicing equipment on a predetermined schedule so that it does not develop catastrophic failures and performs better over its useful lifecycle. Safety is the upmost benefit of preventative maintenance. A poorly maintained piece of equipment can result in an unsafe work environment and increased risk of injury or loss of life. Preventative maintenance is an important aspect of owning equipment and not one to disregard.
A properly implemented maintenance program ensures increased family and employee safety, increased equipment efficiency, decreased unexpected downtime and increased equipment value at trade-in.
Preventative maintenance should be performed on a daily and seasonal basis.
All routine maintenance should be properly documented and easily accessible to all people responsible for maintaining equipment. Such documentation should include equipment hours/age, length of service intervals, frequently used part numbers with associated cost, and dates with type of service performed.
Off-season preventative maintenance is usually more involved. This is when equipment should be partially or completely disassembled for inspection and more detailed cleaning. At the Noble Research Institute, we use this time to thoroughly inspect our equipment to ensure efficient and reliable performance.
Daily preventative maintenance can be as simple as cleaning, lubricating and inspecting equipment like abnormal wear patterns around moving parts, proper belt/chain tensions, safety guard placement and function, leaking fluid, and proper lubrication.
Preventative maintenance is less stressful than reactive maintenance, which results in a more efficient operation while contributing to profitability. When performing any preventative maintenance or equipment repair, always refer to the model-specific owner's manual and/or technical manual.