Keep your Fleet Running Stronger for Longer
Operating a successful, profitable and modern farm is a difficult venture, to say the least. Long hours of hard work and dozens of different skillsets are required of today’s farmers, whether they be soil based, dairy producers or cattle raisers.
Knowledgeable farmers are forward-thinking and proactive business people. Often, farmers have millions of dollars invested in equipment including machinery and tools, not to mention land and livestock. Each year, new technologies make older equipment obsolete or at least less productive. Those who do not keep up with the times and look after their assets are doomed to be left behind and can have catastrophic results.
Weather is always the wildcard in farming. Owning farming machinery and tools is not; selecting the right equipment is entirely in the farmer’s control, and so is looking after it. Equipment represents a huge investment. Properly purchased and maintained, farming equipment can last indefinitely — at least as long as it’s intended life or until technology makes it outdated.
Benefits of a Maintenance Plan for Agriculture and Farm Equipment
The key to keeping equipment running and staying at peak performance is no secret. Every successful farmer knows it’s all about maintenance of farm tools and equipment. They know the reasons why farm machines should be maintained and the value in servicing farm equipment.
Proper maintenance of farm machineries reduces the expenses needed to keep a farm running at peak efficiency, extends the life of tools and equipment and prevents sudden breakdowns. Spending a lot of time and money maintaining farm equipment might seem unnecessary to an outsider, however, every farmer who’s been in the agriculture business and intends on remaining on a profitable farm knows the cost of maintenance is far less than paying for even more expensive repairs.
The Virginia Cooperative Extension reported on a Midwest study showing many farmers could reduce their overall agricultural equipment repair bills by 25 percent if they improved their ways of maintaining farm machines and tools.
Another study by the University of Nebraska came to exactly the same 25 percent conclusion, only they used a specific example. An $80,000 tractor normally requires approximately $24,000 in repairs and maintenance costs during 5,000 hours of operation. With an excellent service management plan, this decreased to $18,000.
These studies had something else in common about service of farm equipment. Both institutes found that a proper maintenance plan involved two straightforward approaches. One was owner involved equipment maintenance and the second was relying on professional outsourced equipment maintenance. It all comes down to the prevention of problems.
Although each type of farming has a variety of equipment brands and purposes, there is no universal rule on how to maintain each piece. This simply is an intentional and controlled method of making systematic inspections, adjustments and replacements of components as well as performance analysis and testing.
Planned maintenance, or PM, takes place before a breakdown occurs. A working PM program extends the life of agricultural equipment. It also reduces the chance of unexpected machinery failure and unscheduled downtime. A proper preventive maintenance program has these benefits:
- Extended equipment life
- Decrease in parts replacement
- Reduction of breakdown
- Improved reliability
- Greater parts inventory management
- Improved resale value
The most effective preventive maintenance program is a team approach with the equipment owner looking after the day-to-day tasks. This might sound menial, but the best one to foresee a looming problem is the person closest to the piece of equipment on a regular basis.
The other team member who has the professional knowledge and complex analytical tools are just as important. This usually is the equipment dealer or the factory service representative. Working together, a planned approach to agricultural equipment maintenance pays back enormously.
Owner Involved Ag Equipment Maintenance
A principle of agricultural equipment maintenance is keeping the machines clean, dry and lubricated. Any piece of farm machinery that is properly looked after by keeping it clean after use, storing it under cover and out of the elements and paying attention to regular lubrication of moving parts is already moving into that previously mentioned 25 percent saving in repair and maintenance costs.
Another important but often overlooked equipment maintenance principle is record keeping. Scheduling periodic maintenance is part of due diligence in prolonging machinery life. Every agricultural equipment owner should set up a system that includes:
- Routine exterior physical inspections
- Periodic internal inspections
- Oil changes at precise intervals
- Systematic lubrications
- Watching for irregularities in fluids
- Prompt adjustment or replacement of defective components
- Maintaining adequate parts inventory
- Adherence to manufacturer’s operation and maintenance guide
- Scheduling overhauls of major components
- Being vigilant for fatigue, stress and corrosion
A system of maintaining agricultural equipment must also involve records keeping. The following elements should be included in the planned maintenance program:
- Proper maintenance documents that record regular servicing as well as unexpected incidents where failure occurred
- Service record charts that show at a glance when servicing is due
- Using a notebook in each piece of equipment to record issues as they happen and not be forgotten or overlooked
- Following the preventive maintenance procedures in the equipment operator guide
- Placing a large planning calendar or whiteboard in a shop that lays out maintenance highlights and critical time points
- Easy-to-find contact names and numbers for outsourced assistance
Every farmer should know their personal limitations when it comes to the maintenance of farm implements and equipment. By historical definition, implements are the smaller tools a farmer uses, and equipment is the larger machinery. It’s said that the farmer carries the implements, but the equipment carries the farmer.The best people to help carry the farmer are professionals who can be outsourced to take on the big maintenance and repair work.
Professional Outsourced Ag Equipment Maintenance
Professionals like Carolina Cat provide prompt and dependable service. Outsourcing the larger maintenance and repair components of farm equipment to a Cat dealer just makes sense. Their success depends on the farmer’s success, and they know when equipment is out of service, it’s not making money.
Outsourced professionals work hard to build solid customer relationships and understand farming needs. They maximize farming equipment uptime by providing cost-effective product support. On top of being there for emergency service when an unexpected breakdown happens, a professional outsourced team member works to monitor farm equipment and anticipates when something might go wrong.
Today’s farming equipment has reached a level of sophistication that no one in the past century could imagine. Technology allows for smart use where computerization monitors, manages and controls system functions. Problems are detected before they become a malfunction and predictions from technology-equipped machines find ways to enhance production, improve safety, reduce costs and build sustainable, successful farming businesses.
Carolina CAT provides an extensive list of outsourced service options for farmers:
- Condition Monitoring is the access to real-time information about what’s happening inside machinery.
- Customer Value Agreements are tailor-made, valuable planning tools that provide a custom plan for farming equipment productivity and longevity.
- Equipment Management or EMSolutions help monitor equipment location, fuel burn and utilization via proprietary access to the exclusive Cat ProductLink.
- Fluid Analysis provides comprehensive fuel and oil sampling, testing and in-depth analysis of all machinery fluids.This is the single, most-important outsourcing task that any farmer can have. Machinery fluids are the lifeblood to equipment performance and the health of vital fluids is a reflection on the health of the machine.
- Hydraulics are an essential part of farm machinery and a constant source of upkeep. Hydraulics maintenance requires keeping systems functioning properly and rebuilding key components when necessary.
- Hoses and Cables are another source of continual farm equipment maintenance and are a leading cause of machinery failure. Few farmers have the onsite resources to repair a ruptured hydraulic hose or even a failed battery cable. Outsourcing hose and cable repairs to a professional allows for fast, reliable and convenient process.
- Welding is often done directly by the farmer for small jobs, but when a major breakage happens, a professional partner who’s available for emergency service can be invaluable. Mobile welding trucks arrive on the spot and have equipment back in service the same day.
- Warranties are not just for new equipment for a professional outsourced maintenance partner. With Carolina CAT, all repairs — large or small — are covered by a standard six-month warranty on parts and labor. Carolina Cat also has a host of protection plans for new, used and remanufactured Cat® equipment.
Contact Carolina Cat for All Your Ag Equipment Maintenance Needs
Carolina Cat is committed to the needs of its farming customers. We know that it is the hard work, risk and dedication of those who work the land that has made America one of the most respected and highest-quality food-producing nations in the world.
Whether it is a grain, dairy or livestock farm, Carolina Cat has been there since 1926 to provide superior sales and service to the farming community. Farming equipment is vital to the industry. The right agricultural equipment is critical in getting food off the farm and to hungry markets.
Just as important as the right equipment is the proper maintenance of farm machineries. The reasons farm machines should be maintained are obvious and so, too, should be the need to have a proper planned maintenance program that includes a professional outsourced team member.
Carolina Cat has the vision to be our customers’ trusted partner by being a high performing dealer. Our mission is to serve customers with the highest value in equipment solutions supported by superior parts and service. We provide our customers with the lowest owning and operating costs and focus on a team approach that builds positive, long-lasting relationships.
Contact Carolina Cat for service and planned maintenance on your agricultural equipment.