For construction and mining operations, it’s no secret that equipment is a large investment. In many cases, equipment costs make up a significant portion of a company’s operating expenses. Considering these hefty costs, it is important to look for ways to maximize your investment and optimize the lifespan of your equipment.
One way to extend the life of construction equipment is to reduce the amount of time equipment sits running idle – or running without accomplishing a task. Idle time is an often-overlooked part of equipment operation as it naturally occurs on jobsites or in transportation operations. While waiting to be loaded or waiting for other tasks to be completed, trucks and earth-moving equipment often sit running.
Hear from our partner at Komatsu about reducing idle time
The drawback of running idle
When your machinery and trucks run idle, even for short periods of time, the costs can quickly add up. We aren’t talking about just the cost of fuel, either. Idle time is also money out the door because it reduces the time between routine maintenance procedures. The longer a machine sits running in idle, the quicker it will require maintenance. Worst of all, that reduced maintenance period doesn’t result in more work accomplished – you are basically conducting more maintenance and completing less work.
Running idle also adds hours to your equipment, which negatively impacts its resale or trade-in value. The value of capital equipment is often based on hours of operation – the longer yours sits running idle, the less you may be able to get when it comes time to sell it or trade it in on an upgrade or replacement.
How to reduce idle time
Despite its negative impact on a company’s bottom line, idle time is very common on job sites and in shipping operations. There are ways to reduce idle time, however – and they are easier than you may think.
The first step in reducing idle time is to simply turn machines off when they are not in use. This is easier said than done, of course, especially for operations that work in hot or cold climates as operators often keep equipment running to stay comfortable on the job.
To overcome the natural tendency to keep machinery running in idle, educate your operators on the cost of the practice. Provide them with information on the best practices for reducing idle time. Finally, consider developing an incentive program to reward operators that keep idle time to a minimum. You may be surprised at the impact this can have on your bottom line.
Another way to reduce idle time is to maximize the efficiency of your job sites. The better you plan your operations, the less time your machinery can sit idle waiting to be loaded or unloaded or to execute a critical task. Take care in assigning the proper number and type of machines to each job site to avoid redundancies or delays, as these often lead to idle time.
Finally, and perhaps most importantly, the best way to reduce your idle time is to track it. Setting a standard baseline for your current idle time will help you understand how much idling is actually occurring on each job sit or in each operation. With the baseline in hand, you can make adjustments to project plans or schedules and track their impact on idle time. Continually adjust your strategies to find the perfect balance between efficiency and idle time.
See the benefits of reducing idle time
While it may take some effort and won’t happen overnight, reducing idle time will lead to huge efficiency gains for your worksite and result in reduced operating costs. You’ll see savings in fuel and maintenance, optimized equipment lifespans and longer maintenance windows. You’ll even reduce your carbon footprint and protect the environment.
Road Machinery & Supplies Co. is here to help you reduce time spent running idle. Our experts can provide the advice you need to know how to measure and track your current idle rates and can also offer advice on strategies for reducing idle time. Call us to learn more about how you can lengthen the life of your machines and reduce operating costs by eliminating time spent running idle.
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The pandemic has brought with it new challenges and supply chain issues across a variety of industries. Construction equipment is no exception. Click the video below to learn what you can do to mitigate these issues.