Reducing Heavy Equipment Fuel Use
Fuel is one of the largest expenses for heavy equipment owners. But it’s also an expense that you can keep under control if you take the right steps and operate your machines correctly. To help you reduce your overall costs, we’ve put together some key tips and best practices for reducing construction equipment fuel usage.
Choose machines with fuel saving features
Many types of modern heavy equipment are equipped with systems and operating modes designed to limit fuel consumption. When shopping for a new excavator, wheel loader, or other machine, opt for ones that have auto idle and auto shutdown features. Construction equipment often idles for half the time that it’s on a jobsite. Auto idle and auto shutdown will keep you from burning fuel during that time. Many machines also have eco operating modes that will reduce engine output when less power is needed, saving fuel.
Maintain the right tire pressure
One of the most basic methods for reducing heavy equipment fuel use is checking tire pressure before each shift. If the tire pressure is low, add air to them as soon as possible. Insufficient pressure will reduce the efficiency of your machine and increase your fuel consumption.
Check your air filters
We recommend inspecting your equipment’s air filter about every 50 hours. If you are operating in especially dirty or dusty environments, you may want to check the filters more often. The reason is that when filters become clogged with dirt, the engine doesn’t get enough air and the machine’s performance will suffer. Your engine will need to work harder to perform every task, causing your equipment fuel usage to increase. Many machines have air flow indicators, but checking your filters regularly will help you stay ahead of the game and make your engines more efficient.
Grease your fittings
Maintaining proper grease levels on your hydraulic equipment lubricates components and makes movement easier for your machine. Efficiency increases and fuel consumption decreases because less power is required for your machine to perform lifting, digging, loading, and other tasks when components are well lubricated.
Don’t let machines idle
In the old days, you’d let machines idle because they were often difficult to start back up. With modern machines, restarting equipment is not an issue, so it’s important to turn off your equipment when you are not actively using a machine. A general rule of thumb is to shut off your equipment if it will be idling for more than five minutes, because you’ll use less fuel to restart it than to keep it running. You can also choose machines with auto idle features that reduce RPM below normal machine idle in certain conditions, significantly reducing fuel consumption.
Operate at the lowest RPM possible
One of the easiest ways to reduce heavy equipment fuel usage is to accelerate slowly and avoid straining the engine. We recommend running at a low RPM during operation, then slowly raising the RPM until you reach the level of power you need. This level will be the most efficient and effective RPM for the job. When a job does not require maximum power, running the engine at a lower rpm can significantly lower fuel consumption.
Perform regular service and maintenance
To reduce fuel use and keep your equipment performing at its best, it’s critical to follow the manufacturer’s guidelines for servicing your machines. Most machines require service at least every 500 hours. Keeping your equipment maintained and fixing any mechanical problems quickly when they occur will help prevent your engine from working harder than it needs to, which consumes more fuel.
If you have any questions about reducing heavy equipment fuel use, contact our team today!
Achieving stable, well compacted soil is a crucial step in construction and landscaping projects. Proper soil compaction sets structures up for success and helps prevent any shifting or settling after they are built. In this article, we'll cover key tips that help you reach the target density quickly and efficiently.
The crucial parts of soil compaction
Understand the soil
Before beginning soil compaction, it's essential to know the type of ground you're working with. Different soils, such as clay, silt, sand, and gravel, have varying moisture contents and characteristics that will change which equipment and methods are best suited to the project. Conduct a soil test to determine its composition, moisture content, and suitability for compaction.
Moisture can significantly affect soil characteristics. Too much moisture can lead to an overly soft soil that doesn't compact well, while too little moisture results in difficulty achieving desired density. Watering or drying the soil as needed can help achieve the desired moisture content.
Use the right compaction equipment
Which machines you use for soil compaction plays a pivotal role in reaching your target density. There is a variety of compaction equipment available, including vibratory plate compactors, smooth drum rollers, and pneumatic tire rollers. Smaller equipment is suitable for confined spaces, while larger machinery is better for open areas. Talk to the Pittman team to determine the best soil compaction equipment for your job.
Implement the latest technology
Modern compaction equipment from top brands like Dynapac utilize advanced features to make the job easier. For example, Dynapac Seismic detects the frequency of the soil characteristics, works together with that frequency, and applies the correct amount of energy required for the best compaction results. It helps the soil and your drum support each other and work in tandem with one another.
Compact layer by layer
You don’t want to try to compact soil in a single pass. The better way is to perform compaction in layers or "lifts." Each lift should be around 6 to 8 inches thick, depending on the compaction equipment being used. Compacting in layers allows for better control over moisture distribution and ensures uniform compaction throughout the soil profile.
Ensure proper compaction techniques
When using vibratory equipment, move slowly and systematically to ensure uniform soil compaction. Overlapping each pass by approximately 50% helps prevent uneven layers. Pay close attention to edges and corners, as these areas tend to be more challenging to compact thoroughly.
Monitor compaction density
Measuring the compaction density during the project is essential to ensure you produce the best results. You can use a compaction meter, nuclear density gauge, or even simple sand cone tests. Regular density checks throughout the compaction process help identify any inconsistencies and allow for adjustments as needed.
Compaction for different applications
Different projects have specific compaction requirements. For instance, road construction may demand higher soil compaction densities compared to landscaping projects. Understand the project's intended use and follow the industry standards for the appropriate level of compaction.
Post compaction quality checks
After completing the soil compaction process, perform thorough quality checks. Walk the compacted area and visually inspect for signs of unevenness, cracks, or soft spots. Address any issues promptly to prevent potential problems down the line.
If you have any questions about soil compaction, reach out to our team today!
How Rising Interest Rates Affects Purchasing Your Heavy Equipment
Construction companies are facing significantly higher costs for the machines they need due to increasing interest rates. Higher rates mean more expensive construction equipment financing options, making it more difficult for businesses to effectively manage the machine costs while maintaining a healthy cash flow.
We put together some tips that we believe may help you handle the current financial environment and have the equipment you need for the job, based on what we are seeing in the market.
Shop around for rates
One of the most important parts of construction equipment financing is to search for the best rate possible. You should look at several different reputable lenders or rely on a dealer like Pittman to do it for you. While shopping around for different rates, ask the lenders if they will offer a short term rate lock, so that if you decide to use them, the rate won’t increase a couple of weeks later when you make your decision.
Understand fixed vs. variable rates
When it comes to construction equipment financing, you generally have two options for your interest rate, fixed and variable.
Fixed interest rates – With this type of rate you pay the same percentage of interest each period. The interest rate is locked in, so no matter what happens to the market or the lender’s general interest rates, you will pay that fixed rate for the entire duration of your financing term.
Variable interest rates – With this type your rate will move up or down based on changes in the market. Usually, the variable interest rate is tied to an index rate, which is a benchmark rate that’s based on market factors.
Although with a variable rate the amount that you pay may go down if the market rates decrease, they could also go up if the market rates increase. Fixed rates are typically more popular for construction equipment financing, because it allows businesses to predict exactly how much they’ll be paying each period.
Consider heavy equipment leasing
With higher interest rates, a good alternative is heavy equipment leasing. This option generally allows for lower monthly payments, so customers can maximize their return on investment. They also remove the burden of needing to sell equipment when you are done with it, and make it easier to have the most modern, updated machines.
Make sure you can pay off without penalties
Some loans will penalize borrowers for paying off the loan before the term is completed. The reason for the penalty is that the lender will end up making less off the loan in interest. Ensuring you have a loan that allows prepayment without any fees will let you pay it off early and reduce your effective interest rate.
Reduce your costs through Section 179
Aside from finding the best rate for construction equipment financing and heavy equipment leasing, having higher interest rates means you have to take advantage of every savings opportunity available. Section 179 allows you write off the full value of your equipment on your taxes (up to a cap) right away, rather than being depreciated over time. For example, if you buy a new piece of machinery for your operation, and begin using it right away, you may be able to deduct the entire cost from your business’s taxable income when you file taxes the next year.
Trade in your current equipment
Trading in your current or old machines is another way to keep your construction equipment financing costs down. When you trade in with Pittman, we’ll take the residual value of your equipment and put it towards your new machine, which can serve as the full or part of your initial down payment. The result is that your rate could be lower and you could have lower up front costs, strengthening your cash flow.
If you have questions about purchasing a new machine or heavy equipment leasing, contact Pittman today!
This information should not be considered financial, legal, or tax advice. Consult your financial, legal, or tax advisor for additional information.
Top Heavy Equipment Fleet Management Strategies
Putting the right fleet management strategies in place is crucial for maintaining your investment and setting your business up for success. A general rule of thumb is to replace your construction equipment when its maintenance costs exceed 30% of its resale value, but the key to maximizing the return on all your machines is keeping them productive for as long as possible. The best way to accomplish that is through effective equipment fleet management.
Keep up on equipment maintenance
It’s important to enroll your whole fleet of machines into preventive maintenance contracts. They will ensure that all routine service is completed at the recommended intervals and that everything is properly documented. Keeping up on proactive maintenance is a key part of heavy equipment fleet management that will help stabilize operational costs and reduce expensive downtime by catching problems early.
Conduct regular fluid analysis
Fluid analysis is one of the most powerful fleet management strategies that you have at your disposal. By analyzing your machine’s fluids, you can compare contaminant levels to normal wear rates in order to identify potential problems with components before a serious failure occurs, helping you avoid unnecessary or unexpected downtime.
Implement equipment monitoring tools
Modern equipment features advanced tools and systems that monitor performance, collect important information, and convert raw data into actionable information you can use. There is software available to help you determine a machine's resale value, calculate ownership and operating costs, and estimate repairs, parts and labor expenses.
Always maintain updated records
Keeping accurate, comprehensive records helps you predict equipment productivity and operational costs, like working hours, fuel consumption, maintenance expenses, and more. Good information is crucial for equipment fleet management and allows you to make the best decisions possible when it comes to deciding whether to replace or repair equipment.
Remember the 80-20 rule
80% of maintenance costs are spent on 20% of machine problems. It’s important to identify common or repeat issues and take action to fix those things that eat up your operating budget and cause unnecessary and costly downtime.
Know when to rebuild or replace equipment
Smart equipment fleet management strategies will often mean deciding whether to rebuild or replace a machine. Here is a simple formula that you can use to accurately calculate and compare the costs of each choice:
Cost to rebuild (new equipment price x .5)/equipment life (estimated hours x .75) = cost per hour
For example, a new piece of equipment that is $120,000 with an estimated life of 10,000 hours would cost $12 per hour to operate. To compare, calculate the cost to rebuild.
($120,000)(.5)/(10,000)(.75) = $8 per hour
If the cost to rebuild is $70,000 for an estimated equipment life of 7,500 hours, at $8 per hour, it is more cost effective to rebuild than to replace.
If you have any questions about equipment fleet management strategies, contact our team today!
[head] How to Dispose of End of Life Equipment
To maintain the best performance possible on the job, sometimes you have to say goodbye to even your longest serving heavy equipment. Eventually, all machines will deteriorate with regular use. To minimize unexpected breakdowns, you must replace end of life equipment before the risk of failure becomes too high.
Many equipment owners don’t know what they can do with their machines once it’s reached the end of its life. To help you out, we’ve put together some options to deal with end of life equipment.
Just because you’re done using a machine doesn’t necessarily mean that someone else doesn’t still want it. If it is still in usable condition, you can try selling the machine directly to a buyer. The drawback to this end of life equipment disposal method is that it can take a lot of time and effort to sell directly to a buyer. You have to act as a sales rep in addition to running your operation. The other option is to contact your dealer or manufacturer and see if they are interested in purchasing it.
If you’re looking to sell your equipment, contact us! We are always on the lookout to purchase used equipment.
Selling for parts
An alternative to finding a buyer who would actually use your piece of equipment is to sell the machine for parts. Even if your equipment is in very poor condition, the components within it can still retain significant value and help you recoup some of your investment. At Pittman, we will buy your old equipment in order to recover their parts.
Trade it in
Many dealers or manufacturers will happily take your old machine as a trade in. This route may be easier than selling, because they know how to refurbish, remanufacture, and resell old machines. Plus, most will also have an established process for reselling used equipment. While this option could help you save money on a new machine, what you receive for your equipment will depend on what the dealer or manufacturer estimates is a fair trade in value.
Recycle or scrap it
Recycling or scrapping may be your only option if your end of life equipment is in very poor condition. Although you won’t receive as much money as you would if you were selling a machine in better condition, scrap and recycling centers may help you recoup some amount. It’s definitely a better choice than leaving it to sit and rot on your lot or behind your shop.
Old equipment does not need to sit idle and take up wasted space in your facility. There are ways to dispose of it while potentially recouping some of your costs. Whether you have one machine reaching its end of life or several, the options listed above will help you determine the best approach to disposing of any equipment that is no longer useful to you.
If you have questions about disposing of end of life equipment, contact our team today!
How to Maintain Your Equipment’s Cooling System
The cooling system in your equipment is necessary to keep it from overheating, which will lead to serious damage and costly downtime. If that system is not maintained properly, then it has to work even harder to keep your engine cool in hot summer weather. In order to properly cool your machine and keep the engine operating as efficiently as possible, you have to take several steps to maintain the cooling system and ensure it's working at its best.
Regularly check cooling fans
Cooling fans help remove excess heat from the engine. Cracked, scratched, or otherwise damaged blades will cause the fan to not be balanced correctly, leading to vibrations that can result in harming internal components. Additionally, do not let debris build up around the fan, as this can cause it to blow a fuse. To avoid costly repairs and unnecessary downtime, always inspect cooling fan blades for cracks, nicks, debris build up, or any other visible signs of damage at regular intervals.
Quickly replace damaged hoses and clamps
Hose to neck seals can wear out at a fast rate because hoses and clamps expand and contract as the temperature in your equipment's cooling system rises and falls. Worn seals will eventually fail, potentially leading to costly damage and repairs, which means it's critical to inspect all hoses and lines for cracks, leaks, or excessive softness or hardness. As a general rule of thumb, hoses should be removed and replaced every two years, or at the intervals recommended by your manufacturer.
Perform routine coolant analysis
Regular fluid analysis will help you identify problems before they become major issues. Half of all water pump failures are caused by a concentration of antifreeze that is too high for the cooling system and could have been avoided with coolant analysis. The best way to prevent this type of failure is to send a sample of your coolant to a professional lab for analysis.
Keep the radiator clean
Dirt, dust, and other debris can build up on your machine's radiator, reducing airflow, impeding heat transfer, and causing higher operating temperatures. This increase in temperature can result in your engine overheating and shutting down. Power washing the radiator and cooler should be done every few days, especially during hot weather, to prevent downtime and damage.
If you have any questions about your equipment cooling system, contact our team today!
Equipment Theft Prevention Tips
According to the National Insurance Crime Bureau (NICB), annual losses from equipment theft are as high as $1 billion. If your machine is stolen you have to replace it, pay for a short term rental, and you lose time dealing with law enforcement and insurance adjusters—time that could have been spent productively on the job.
To help you take precautions for equipment theft prevention, we’ve put together some tips and best practices.
Secure your site
One of the most important parts of machine theft prevention is adding security to your jobsites and equipment storage areas. We recommend using chain link fencing that is at least eight feet high with barbed wire or razor tape at the top. Routinely check your fence for signs of damage or tampering. It’s best to only have one way in and out of the fence, and the gate should be padlocked.
Warning signs and lighting
In addition to fencing, it’s smart to put up signs saying “no trespassing” that also outline the fines or penalties associated with entering your site without permission. Put up lights along the entire fence, so the work or storage area is brightly lit at night.
Use equipment security
Besides securing your work or storage area, another important part of equipment theft prevention is securing your actual machines. Here are a few ways to do that:
Maintain tight records
If theft prevention fails, and your equipment is stolen, it will be very helpful to law enforcement if you have an accurate inventory, plus records on each machine. The faster the police can work, the faster they can recover your stolen equipment. Here are some tips for maintaining records:
Properly insure and value your machines
Understanding the correct value of your equipment and having it adequately insured will make a huge difference if a machine is stolen, and you’re not able to recover it. That way, you can be sure to recoup the full amount of what your piece of equipment is worth. At Pittman, our team can accurately value your new equipment.
If you have any questions about equipment theft prevention, please contact our team today!
How to Maintain Engine Cooling Systems
Check cooling fans regularly
Keep the radiator clean
Perform routine coolant analysis
Inspect hoses and clamps
Pittman Tractor is locally owned and operated. We’ve been serving the Gulf Coast and surrounding area for more than 30 years. Talk with our team for expert service, repairs, and parts for your equipment.
Reduce downtime with these tips
When you have a heavy equipment fleet, your machines are your most vital assets. If you want to keep them running for the long term, it's important to have a daily checklist for equipment maintenance.
This daily strategy takes a team effort. Refer to the manufacturer's manual while also trusting the expertise of the team—operators, managers, and mechanics—who are your experts in equipment maintenance. Each person should be checking the fleet before and after use to ensure everything is up to the highest standards.
Equipment maintenance tips
When a massive failure occurs on an engine, it can cause a chain reaction of catastrophic events, resulting in other damaged parts and halting your work. At Pittman Tractor, we developed a daily checklist for equipment maintenance in Alabama to help reduce your downtime.
Equipment maintenance in Alabama
At Pittman Tractor, we've been serving Alabama for more than 30 years with two hubs in Daphne and Montrose. Whether it's Hitachi, Dynapac, or Midland Machinery, we've seen what can happen to equipment when it's not properly cared for.
We've included this checklist to get you started with equipment maintenance.
Know your limits
Every situation will have unique securing procedures, but it is important to know the load rating of your trailer and the weight of your load. Load ratings are typically located on the trailer identification plate, and the weight of the load can be determined by using a certified scale.
Understand the law
The maximum legal load in the majority of states is 80,000 lb. Heavy or oversized loads will need specialized trailers and permits to legally transport. If you are unaware of the law in your state, or not certain of the requirements for your load, be sure to check with the local authorities before transporting your equipment.
Don't overload your trailer
It's best to use a trailer with a maximum capacity that is more than the weight of the load plus the weight of the trailer itself. If your load is close to the capacity for your trailer, use a heavier capacity trailer.
Always use properly rated tie downs
The Federal Motor Carrier Regulations determines the number of tie downs required based upon the weight of your load, as well as the tie down capacity. The basic requirement is that tie downs must have a combined strength equal to at least 50% of the load being secured.
Check your chains
Inspect tie downs and chains before each use, and discard any that have visual signs of wear or damage.
Distribute weight correctly
It is important to place loads so the weight is distributed evenly between the semi-tractor drive axles and the trailer axles. Too much weight on the front can make steering unresponsive, while excessive weight on the back can affect braking and decrease traction.
Don't damage equipment during tie down
Check the tie down points located on your load, and be sure to use them properly to avoid damage. 45˚ tie down angles offer the best protection and should keep your load from shifting or sliding.