Jack Henderson-Adams — Western Earthworks, Owner
Advice for preventive equipment maintenance
Jack Henderson-Adams left a successful career selling heavy equipment to oversee and operate those machines himself. He started Western Earthworks, an up-and-coming construction firm, about five years ago. Key to the company’s success is preventive maintenance. Here, Jack shared with us his philosophy on maintenance and why it’s so important to his success.
Western Earthworks operates in a different environment than most in construction and heavy civil site work. We work with extremely tight deadlines, tight budgets, adverse weather conditions and people’s expectations — the list goes on.
Preventive maintenance is key to my company. That’s because the few moments it takes to make sure that your equipment is ready can save you days of heartbreak, downtime, fines or back charges. Being proactive — which requires very little effort — can pay out extensively in the long run.
I’ve talked with our mechanic about coming up with the most efficient way to make sure preventive maintenance is done — and done properly. Ultimately, it requires a team effort and a collective education for our employees, especially operators. It’s important to understand the why behind the maintenance. The why behind the importance of greasing.
We take pride in breeding a culture of accountability: If you touch it, you own it. With that in mind, it is my responsibility to make sure everyone understands the reasoning and the actual mechanics behind preventive maintenance.
Take 15 minutes each morning
Many of the places I worked, you show up at 6:45 and work starts at 7. You were expected to grease, fuel up and go through the machine on your own time, not on the clock. I don’t do it like that: If it’s your job and your responsibility to ensure the proper care of the equipment that you’re operating, you’re going to be paid for taking care of it.
You are accountable for referencing the hours on the hour meter to what’s written on the filters, going through the air filters, checking on your hydraulic lines, looking at your pins and bushings, making sure you’re hitting all the grease fittings, shoveling your tracks out at night and inspecting your sprockets, rollers, chains and pads. Half an hour would be a stretch, but there's a solid 15 to 20 minutes every morning, and if they’re running a machine, they’re going through the whole thing top to bottom.
Where premature wear begins
Parts on the equipment can wear prematurely if not properly maintained or from uneducated operation. Consider the rear sprockets on an excavator and the chains on the undercarriage. There’s the tendency to overtighten the track that appears loose or climb steep inclines with your sprockets leading uphill. These can be damaging tendencies, but with the proper education to our operators, it saves us in the long run. On our excavators, these are big ticket items, and this damage is the first to pop into my head when I hear “premature wear.”
Another example is the bottom pins on the bottom of the arm of an excavator where it bolts onto the bucket. If there is one thing you over-grease, or grease multiple times in a shift, it would be that pin because that pin is always in the dirt. If you’re digging in a pond, it’s always in the water. And while grease does an excellent job of lubricating pins and bushings, a pin like that in that part of the machine, you can grease it and that’ll push some of the dirt out and keep the clean grease inside.
I was brought into the business by mentors who were almost obsessive when it came to equipment and how it was maintained. I felt their devotion and care directly represented their company and their work. Diligence with maintenance, I believe, leads to diligence in your work.
When you’re running a piece of equipment 10 to 12 hours a day, five to seven days a week, you get to a point where maintenance is the last thing you want to do. But a five-dollar stick of grease is cheaper in the long run than a few thousand bucks doing the bushings and pins. It’s important.
And it’s what I like to ingrain into the operators that are coming on board and coming up the ranks — the maintenance, the greasing and the fueling. That equipment is your responsibility and you’re only as good as the work you perform. The maintenance is vital to keeping these machines running for a long, long, long time.
Visit your nearby Doosan dealer to ask about preventive maintenance schedules for your equipment.
The maintenance is vital to keeping these machines running for a long, long, long time.