Proactively Maintaining Your Agricultural Equipment

Noria Corporation

  

Success with Extended Operation Times

Running and operating a successful and profitable farm today is no easy feat. Whether you’re growing crops, raising cattle, or producing dairy products, the requirements of the job can be demanding. It requires long hours in extreme conditions while working with over a dozen different skill sets to accurately complete the task at hand. A farmer’s success depends on their knowledge and the efficient operation of their valuable equipment.

The successful farmers are the ones who are not only knowledgeable about their industry, but proactive and forward-thinking about the future of their farm and equipment. Today, it’s not uncommon for a farmer to have millions of dollars invested in their business. From machinery and tools to livestock and land, if every component of their investment is not functioning properly or being taken care of accordingly, it can quickly spell disaster for even the most seasoned of farmers. Added to this pressure to perform is the fact that each year, new farming technology is created to keep up with ever-increasing demands, effectively making the current farming equipment either less productive or entirely obsolete. Those who cannot effectively maintain and proactively protect their equipment will not be able to keep up with the industry and will be doomed to be left behind.

While there are many aspects of the industry that farmers cannot control, one factor that they do have complete autonomy over is the selection and maintenance of their machinery and tools. Because of this, equipment is one of the most valuable and continual investments that any farmer can make. Properly maintained farming equipment can last for seasons to come and can make an impactful difference on a farm’s revenues. In this article, we’ll discuss some of the factors that create a successful preventative maintenance program such as grease selection and machine care, as well as ways to help increase the overall efficiency of your farm activities.

Developing a Maintenance Plan

Over the generations, farmers have narrowed in on exactly what it takes to keep their equipment operating at peak performance – proactive maintenance. By understanding the value that maintenance activities bring to their equipment, farmers have not only maintained the value of their equipment, but enhanced the performance and value of their farming operation as a whole.

Proper farm machine maintenance not only reduces the overall expenses needed to keep the farm running efficiently, but it also extends the life of their equipment while preventing unscheduled downtime and machine failure. While spending time and resources maintaining farm equipment might seem like an unnecessary cost to some, farms that are committed to remaining profitable understand that the cost of maintenance is significantly less than paying for increasingly expensive repairs and part replacements.

Studies have shown that farmers who participate in preventative maintenance practices for their equipment can see as much as a 25 percent reduction in their overall equipment repair bills. This can be either through owner-involved equipment maintenance or the use of a professional equipment maintenance company. At the end of the day, the important factor that remains is that the equipment is actively being worked on to prevent problems from occurring.

One of the most important aspects of successful preventative maintenance solutions is the use of a planned maintenance (PM) program. A quality PM program takes place before a breakdown occurs in order to extend the life of the farming equipment by reducing the chance of unexpected machine failures and unplanned downtime. A preventative maintenance program has many benefits, including:

  • Extended equipment life
  • Decreased part replacements
  • Breakdown reduction
  • Improved reliability
  • Better parts inventory management
  • Improved resale value

Agricultural Equipment Maintenance

One of the largest guiding principles that farmers understand is that in order to properly maintain their equipment, it’s imperative that the machines remain clean, dry, and well lubricated. This involves ensuring that the tools are properly cleaned after each use, that equipment is properly stored to protect against the elements, and that each staff member is paying proper attention to the lubrication status of each component.

Another important factor to master for a well-rounded preventative maintenance program is record keeping. Not only will good record keeping help farmers keep track of their tools and machinery, but it will also alert when it’s time for scheduled maintenance activities. By performing these activities at consistent intervals, it can greatly contribute to longer machine life and reduced downtime. Farming equipment owners should set up a maintenance system that includes:

  • Exterior inspections
  • Interior inspections
  • Oil changes
  • Systematic lubrications
  • Watches for fluid irregularities
  • Prompts to correct or replace defective components
  • Inventory parts maintenance
  • Manufacturer operations and maintenance guide adherence
  • Regular checks for warning signs of fatigue, stress, and corrosion

Any quality maintenance system should also involve detailed record keeping. Examples of record keeping to help with a planned maintenance program include:

  • Maintenance documents detailing regular serving activities and unexpected incidents where failure resulted
  • Service record charts that detail when servicing is due for each piece of equipment
  • Maintaining a log at each piece of equipment to document issues as they occur
  • Following maintenance procedures outlined in the OEM (Original Equipment Manufacturer) handbook
  • A centralized shop whiteboard to inform all staff members of maintenance highlights and critical information
  • A binder of contact information for companies or individuals used as outside resources or assistance

Following these steps can help farmers create an effective and lasting preventative maintenance program. However, while it can feel fulfilling to take care of all your equipment needs in-house, sometimes this isn’t a reasonable or profitable decision. If a problem becomes too complex or the solution too time-intensive, a great alternative is to hire an outside, trained professional for assistance. This can include anything from lubrication experts to equipment maintenance services. By outsourcing help when needed, not only can the farm manager learn new industry knowledge, but it will also free up their staff to continue working on daily tasks to ensure production does not fall behind. A great industry resource can go a long way to improving different aspects of your preventative maintenance program.

Selecting the Right Grease

One of the final, but most critical, components to consider when creating your preventative maintenance program is your grease selection. Grease is the lifeblood that keeps all of your farm equipment protected and ensures they are functioning properly. Without the right lubrication, your equipment can begin experiencing severe side effects such as pitting, wear, and corrosion. These activities create contaminants that enter into other areas of your system and begin to wreak havoc on other components. Eventually, if left uncorrected, this can lead to total machine failure.

A great place to start when trying to select the appropriate lubricating grease is the OEM guide. Here, the manufacturer will list the required type of lubricant needed. This will usually be represented on the NLGI (National Lubricating Grease Institute) scale, which categorizes greases on a number scale from 000 to 6 based off of their composition and properties. From here, you can begin to expand your search based off of this criteria to better determine the right grease for your needs.

Another great resource to take advantage of is a lubrication specialist. Most grease manufacturers will have a dedicated staff of highly trained lubrication experts who can assist you with determining your machine needs and finding the right grease for the job. Not only can this save you valuable time, but it will also help you gain a deeper understanding of the lubrication industry and the positive impacts it can have on the life of your equipment.

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