Winter fleet maintenance tips for ready mix concrete operators
With the winter season soon upon us, many ready mix concrete plant operators will close up for the season or operate at a reduced capacity. If you close up entirely, your plant needs to be winterized.
Before you begin the winterizing process, double check your maintenance work order system for outstanding work orders, scheduled maintenance and inspections that are coming due, and warranties that may be expiring during the off season. Fleet maintenance software is available that can help you better organize and plan your heavy equipment maintenance and repairs. Some even allow you to create and save a heavy equipment maintenance checklist for quick retrieval next year.
Inspect all moving parts while both stopped and running. Look for unusual movement, leaks and excessive noise. Make note of changes from year to year and any problems that need to be addressed. Fix all problems before the plant is winterized. Waiting to fix a problem until the spring can make it difficult to identify new problems that may have occurred over the winter. It can also add additional cost to the original repair. Plus, an early spring rush can make it necessary to get back in production quickly.
Remove excess material stored in the plant prior to winterizing. Reduce the weight of aggregates and cement in the plant. Less material in the silos will also minimize potential moisture related issues.
Disconnect the water supply and drain the water from all pipes and systems. Water left in the plant will freeze, expand, and cause cracks in pipes, hoses, fittings, and more. When the plant begins to thaw, a connected water source can potentially flood the plant.
Disconnect and secure the main power supply.
Remove all valuables from the property, including scrap metals. Ensure all doors and windows are secured with extra bars across windows and doors. Ensure electronic equipment is not easily visible from the outside. If your facility is fenced, lock the gates. A closed unsecured plant is an attraction for vandals. Make unscheduled and frequent visits to the plant.
Perform a complete grease and lubrication.
Winter is a great time to evaluate the previous season in terms of what went well, and what needs to be worked on in terms of your business and operations. Make a list of improvements to be made for the coming season. Ask your staff for the same. Once this list is compiled, organize this list by priority. If maintenance or other software is on your list, winter is the best time to implement.
A few other tips
Clean, wax, and cover all equipment where possible.
Check and top up battery levels, all fluids, and add fuel stabilizer.
Replace spark plugs, using fogging oil before installing new plugs.
Close exhausts and intakes.
Oil door locks and treat rubber seals on doors and windows with Vaseline.
Protect drums from water accumulation.
Put support jacks under axles to prevent trucks from lying on empty tires.
Log all maintenance details by equipment in your fleet maintenance software.
For those who choose to stay open, be mindful the effect of extreme conditions that winter can have on your equipment.
Keep brake line anti-freeze and fuel conditioner in your concrete pump. Keep sponge balls in anti-freeze.
After each day of use, clean thoroughly and eliminate water and material from the water pump, tank, and additive tank.
Insulate booms with a material that does not absorb water. Before you insulate, wrap the boom with plastic wrap to help keep the paint. Between pumping, be aware of frozen slugs of concrete that can plug elbows.
Hydraulic oil can be extra thick on cold days. Give yourself lots of time to warm up your oil to avoid pump issues and blown lines.
Be prepared and have everything on hand you might need to deal with winter related problems and issues.
Winter is also a good time to evaluate the previous season and to get organized for the upcoming season. It is the ideal time to make operational changes, and the best time to implement fleet maintenance software.
If you are still using handwritten forms and/or fleet management spreadsheets to track maintenance and repairs, maybe this winter it’s time to consider Fleet Harmony – Online Fleet Management software.
Fleet Harmony Online is the only software of its kind in Canada, with packages for any size budget. It’s more affordable than you think. Whether you only have a handful of trucks, or hundreds, Fleet Harmony - Online Fleet Management software has a solution that's right for you.