Taking care of your equipment is essential to any business. The cost of heavy machinery can be high, so understanding how long your equipment will last and how you can help prolong its life can significantly lower your long-term ownership costs. These helpful tips and processes will assist you in taking care of your equipment so it stays in good condition for as long as possible.

How to Determine the Average Lifespan of Construction Equipment

The lifetime design goal for most major equipment makes with engines and hydraulic systems is 10,000 hours.

According to a study done by Construction Equipment magazine, on average 50% of excavators, wheel loaders, and dozers last about 10,000 hours, with a further 30% lasting 12,000 hours or beyond. If you want a more accurate portrayal of how long equipment will last, your best bet is to turn to your manufacturers and if possible, your equipment ownership history.

Manufacturers will generally provide data to help you determine the useful life of a piece of equipment. They may identify their expectation of lifetime hours or years you can get, or the number of cycles or uses expected. You can then compare this to your own use to estimate how long they will last.

The best method is to evaluate your own historical use you’ve had with the same model or even similar equipment used in the same conditions. If your business has worked with equipment for many years, recording the history of your machines, maintenance history, and costs can help you identify trends, so you don’t have to base long-term financial decisions (for example, length of financing needed) on theoretical information alone.

Another means of comparison and evaluation is the used equipment and machine auction market. Many machines go on to have productive “second” lives after their primary owner has determined the unit is ready to be moved.  Taking time to explore what units are for sale by present owners and at what cost and hours can give you an idea of when they have determined their useful life.

Auctions are the ultimate determination of what buyers will pay for a unit that day, so by watching value versus hours and conditions, you can evaluate machine age and value.

Follow a Machine’s Intended Use

Are your machines being used within their optimal range of capabilities? You can often do a small job with a large machine and have it perform well, but it is very difficult for a smaller-class machine to undertake larger work and expect similar productivity and longevity.

Ensuring that you follow a machine’s intended use and capabilities is important to ensure the machine will last its intended design life. Making it work harder than intended can cause damages that will not only have an impact on its life cycle but also lead to unplanned costly repairs and unproductive downtime.

How to Extend Your Heavy Equipment Life Expectancy

To ensure your equipment runs to its potential and lasts as long as possible, you need to regularly take care of it.

Trained Employees

Make sure that all employees working with your heavy machinery are fully trained on how to use it properly and aren’t cutting corners to save time.

This means not only how to run the machine, but also how to start, stop, and perform regular maintenance procedures as needed. To help make sure employees are trained properly, many manufacturers and equipment companies offer onsite training sessions.

Regular Maintenance Schedules

All equipment should have a regular maintenance schedule and program that is recorded and tracked. The US Department of Energy reports that preventative maintenance can result in up to a 25-30% reduction in energy and maintenance costs, result in 35-45% fewer breakdowns, and is associated with reductions in downtime by up to 75%.

Many companies get so busy that it can be easy to put off routine maintenance and checks for wear on equipment but without these, it can be easy to miss machinery that is being overworked or in disrepair. Failures that occur due to lack of maintenance often cause consequential damage that runs many times what routine maintenance would have cost.

Dealers can offer routine maintenance service programs to ensure this work gets done when needed.

Fluids, filters, and machine lubrication should be regularly performed with machine inspections to identify premature wear, or electrical system issues. Your team should have a regular system for visual inspections to ensure the appearance and ground-engaging items are in good condition including fenders, tires, buckets, and wear teeth.

Make Adjustments Over Time

With improvements over the years, it’s always important to be informed of changes in the industry that can impact performance. If your equipment becomes troublesome to repair due to discontinued components, or no longer meets legal requirements for safe use, you need to find a replacement.

Machine telematics is becoming more prevalent, so owners and manufacturers and dealers get real-world data on use, wear life of components, and real-time hourly updates that can be used to schedule maintenance.  Staying informed can help you anticipate these changes and prepare for the future.

Protection from the Elements

Another quality practice, and one that is vital in northern climates like Ontario, is to protect your machines from the elements when not in use. When storing your equipment, make sure it is properly prepared for winter conditions or a winter shutdown servicing and is placed in a temperature-controlled, dry area if possible.

Moisture and humidity can lead to corrosion and breakdowns, heat and dust can break down lubricants, and repetitive large temperature changes can also negatively impact machinery.

Making sure your equipment is protected when left on site or during storms, and kept safe during the winter will ensure that it is in better condition the next time you need it.

Amaco is Ontario’s heavy equipment specialist and has helped municipalities, contractors, and owner-operators across the province find the right machine solutions for them. Contact us today to discuss your needs!

Jeff MacDonald