Starting Right: Equipment MaintenanceBimini100
Farm machinery maintenance requirements grow with the size of the equipment being used, the number of hours equipment is used per year, the difficulty of working the particular soil for your farm, and the age of the equipment. Accountants use a working estimate 25% of the cost of new equipment will eventually be required for maintenance after the economic life of a tractor. This translates into maintenance being a major ongoing expense for all farms.
Maintenance: A Time to Call Specialists
A good example of how major farm operators are often handling their maintenance burden is shown by Olam Palm Gabon, a subsidiary of Olam international, subcontracting all maintenance to TractorExport of Coral Gables, FL. Olam Palm Gabon had difficulty maintaining a staff of qualified maintenance technicians on site, but now TractorExport is handling the logistics of supplying all of the necessary parts and expertise for repair and maintenance. The two-year of agreement exceeding $20 million, demonstrates that maintenance is not only a potential major expense for factory farming operations, but also an area that benefits from bringing in outside expertise.
This maintenance and parts contract by a top tier international Ag operator demonstrates that no matter the size of your farm or your farming operation, maintenance is critical to your success. If any company should be able to handle maintenance internally, one would think it would be a company with over 23,000 employees and operations on the soil of more than 60 different countries. Rather than choosing to handle maintenance internally, Olam wisely opted for working with one of the world’s leading experts on virtually all tractor brands, TractorExport. Olam chose TractorExport for subcontracting maintenance so Olam could focus on what it does best, providing agricultural products world-wide.
Large and Small Farms: Maintenance is Critical
The lesson on maintenance for farms large and small is to evaluate whether maintenance is better kept in-house, or if you would be wiser to subcontract maintenance to a company like TractorExport, or perhaps one local to you. Please contact TractorExport to see if they have a plan for maintenance that can work for you. If they do not, they may be able to offer a recommendation for maintenance from a local specialist near you.
3 Critical Tips for Lowering Maintenance Burdens
For those of you that are not in the position to subcontract out your maintenance, here are some pointers for preparing your prized tractors and combines and accessories for trouble-free operation for the upcoming year.
Tip #1: Focus on the parts that are easy for you to replace and not the ones that require a trip to the dealer. Parts that an operator can generally replace fairly easily include all the hydraulic components, filters, electrical switches, frame components, and belts and open drive components. If you take care of these components, then the likelihood of a surprise break- down drops dramatically. For every time a transmission goes bad, which is definitely a dealer repair, 10 hydraulic cylinders will spring leaks. This means that replacing hydraulic seals and monitoring hydraulic systems is a smart investment in an operator’s time, rather than attempting to work on components that are best left to a dealer.
Tip #2: You cannot change your oil for all components frequently enough. Not only is oil relatively a cheap replacement part for an expensive tractor, but there are also methods now for reusing old oil or employing it as diesel fuel. This makes changing oil even more economic in terms of the overall maintenance cost for your tractor. The single greatest maintenance requirement is keeping clean, fresh, in-specification oil throughout all components on your tractor.
Tip #3: Use checklists for all equipment, or have a software package if you have the capability of using it with you in the field, for monitoring and recording all maintenance on all equipment. This serves two purposes. The first purpose is that it is a reminder for each step that is required and each process required for properly maintaining any piece of equipment. The next most important aspect of keeping this checklist is a record for all the maintenance you have performed to give you an idea of your costs going forward, as well as proving to anyone that you sell the equipment to you, that you have in fact maintained your equipment properly. This is a no-cost way to dramatically improve your payback from the equipment and your uptime.
The economic life of tractors and heavy farm equipment is specified as approximately 15 years. If an average tractor is used in the neighborhood of 400 hours per year, then it runs for 6000 hours before it reaches the end of its economic life. At that point based on historical records of equipment operation, almost 25% of the cost of the tractors original cost will go into maintaining that tractor after the 15 year period. Those of you who are able to multiply 25% times 4 will realize that you are close to buying a new tractor almost every four years with the increased maintenance cost. Following the tips in this article will help minimize this high level of maintenance and getting you in front of the potential repairs for your heavy equipment that makes your farm possible. If all of this seems to be too much of a burden, then your best bet is to go with an outside expert, like TractorExport, and keep both your farm machinery and your farm operation humming along without a concern for maintenance.