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Equipment downtime is a serious concern for those in the construction industry. In a recently conducted survey over 75% of construction business owners admitted to having periods with equipment standing idle.

The consequences of equipment downtime, scheduled or otherwise, can be severe — ranging from delays to an important project caused by an unexpected breakdown, to the inconvenience of idle equipment taking up valuable space, contributing nothing to the company’s finances or even worse – equipment costing money each day due to finance and other fixed costs such as insurance.

In some cases, downtime is a necessary evil — during planned repairs or maintenance for example — but plant owners don’t need to resign themselves to the high levels of equipment downtime currently rife in the industry. There are a few key steps any owner/operator can take to minimise machinery downtime.

  1. Equipment Inspection

If you’re still operating your machinery on a ‘use it ‘til you lose it’ policy, you could be playing a dangerous game. It’s tempting to wait until the last gasp to replace older equipment (we all like getting our money’s worth after all!), but it’s almost guaranteed that your machinery will wait until the most inconvenient moment to give up the ghost.

If you don’t already have an official, regular machine inspection regime in place, now is the time to implement one.

Make the most of any scheduled downtime to conduct a thorough inspection of all of your equipment so that any potential problems can be identified before they become critical and risk stalling a project and damaging your reputation.

And don’t forget to consider the availability of spare parts when you’re conducting an inspection. Your favourite excavator may be nicknamed ‘old reliable’ but everything has a shelf life. If you know that spare parts are no longer available for a particular model, the time may have come to invest in some more up-to-date equipment. Doing so will not only reduce the risk of downtime, but will likely improve overall site efficiency and have a hugely positive impact on your bottom line, despite the initial outlay.

  1. Operator Training

Operator error can be a significant factor in unscheduled downtime. Making sure all operators are given ongoing training for any equipment they use can work in your favour in two ways. Not only will you reduce the risk of breakdown caused by human error, but well-trained operators can be invaluable when it comes to spotting the potential for any machine failure. Don’t be afraid to involve the whole team in your regular machinery checks and inspections.

We recommend a thorough pre-use and daily equipment check carried out by the operator to highlight any defect before they become a problem.  Modern smart phone apps (such as the Shareplant app) provide easy and efficient electronic forms to carry out these checks – which also maintains compliance with Health and Safety legislation.

In our survey, construction bosses named lack of operator availability as one of the reasons for machinery downtime. Operators appreciate a company willing to invest in them, so creating a strong training culture is also a great way to ensure that you have the best talent available when you need to kick off a new project.

  1. Consistent Marketing

By far the most common reason for machinery downtime, according to our survey, was due to gaps in bookings and the inevitable wait period for client contract exchanges. If this applies to your business, it’s time to look at your marketing efforts.

Marketing is often put on hold when you’re busy with a long-term contract but if you want to reduce gaps between projects, you have to keep on pushing your services, even when you’re fully booked. It may seem counterintuitive but it will pay off.

Modern web based rental platforms and social media outreach can enhance your marketing for minimal effort.

  1. Invest in a Backup

If you’re groaning at the thought of yet more investment, just think of the revenue that could be lost due to project delays caused by unexpected equipment breakdown. Having backup machinery will give you, and your clients, peace of mind that the job will get done, on time, as promised. And to recoup some of the expense, you could consider hiring out your backup equipment on a short-term lease. See key step number 5…

  1. Equipment Rental Opportunities

Despite following steps 1 to 4, the occasional period of equipment downtime is inevitable, gaps between projects, clients changing project specifications or start-date delays will happen. If you’ve already used this time to perform checks and inspections and all of your equipment is in great working order, it is definitely worth thinking of ways to capitalise on this scheduled downtime.

Shareplant can connect you with the construction companies that want to hire your specialist equipment during these periods of downtime. The short-term benefits are clear — immediate profit on your idle machinery — but there are longer-term advantages too, as you forge new business relationships and gain access to new markets and new clients.

To find out more about making profit from your idle equipment, create your free Shareplant account or get in touch with any questions and we will be pleased to help.