Cleaning, as the oft-employed adage goes, “is one of life’s necessary chores” – and, when it comes to keeping machinery spick and span and in good working order, it may well be worthwhile regarding cleaning duties less as optional and more as clear-cut requirement.
The importance of thorough, detailed and regular cleaning should not be underestimated, and it is certainly worthwhile incorporating cleaning practices into work routines, and taking a proactive and flexible approach when required. Beyond immediate benefits such as orderliness and neatness, along with conveying a professional pride in appearance, a driving motivator for maintaining clean equipment is a very significant potential to contribute to more efficient operations, greater productivity and effective maintenance.
At a very fundamental level, clutter has the potential to impact efficiency – and, in the context of earthmoving operations, this may range from the condition that equipment is left in, and how it is stored over both the short and long term, to how it is maintained on a daily basis; from shift to shift and project to project. Constantly accommodating for disorganised work practices can impact a business’s bottom line, and businesses that prioritise an organised approach, undertaking regular cleaning as equipment is used and in concert with maintenance schedules, are likely both promoting efficiency and lessening the risk of equipment downtime.
Build-up of dirt, grime and debris is, of course, the invariable by product of earthmoving operations – and, given the often multifaceted nature of the equipment employed, encompassing a range of individual and interconnected components, over time there is the potential for many different elements of equipment to be affected. In determining cleaning requirements, the manufacturer’s manual should be a primary reference point, along with any supporting materials, such as written and video tutorials, which may be available via manufacturer websites. Throughout the lifespan of equipment, it is important to develop, and adhere to, detailed cleaning schedules, making these schedules a key aspect of overall maintenance.
Of course, across the scope of equipment deployed, the right tools will be required to undertake certain cleaning tasks, from pressure washing of the undercarriage to washing and maintaining a range of diverse components – and it should, conversely, be recognised that the wrong tools, cleaning products or cleaning techniques have the potential to cause damage. Meanwhile, it isalso important to adopt cleaning practices suited for the type of work being undertaken and the conditions the work is being carried out in. From dry to inclement weather, as equipment is exposed to the elements, particular cleaning routines may need to be employed – for instance, in wet conditions, or when working on projects close to the ocean, rust may be a factor, with cleaning practices needing to be adjusted accordingly.
Cleaning of machinery can at times be a complex and demanding task, but one that should not be neglected, and it is important to keep in mind the benefits of adhering to regular and comprehensive routines, and to engage expert assistance when required. It is important to carry out cleaning in conjunction with other maintenance, as regular cleaning may well play a role in identifying potential problems, helping to monitor ongoing degradation, and potentially allowing remedial action to be taken. Not only will this contribute to keeping equipment safe and operating at or near full capacity, but it may also lessen the need for potentially expensive maintenance and prevent equipment downtime.