June 21, 2017
For farmers, the greatest asset investment you can make is in farming equipment. Agriculture equipment can be worth hundreds of thousands of dollars. So, treating your equipment with care and precision is not only recommended, it’s an essential business decision.
Winter months are the ideal time to start prepping your entire farming business for the upcoming season. Preparations should not only include your land and soil but your precious equipment, too. Though winter will likely be the majority of available time for maintenance, maintaining and caring for farming equipment is a year-round job. Although it’s easy to put it off during the busy season, it shouldn’t be neglected.
Failing to perform ongoing inspections and maintenance can leave you with an equipment malfunction at an inopportune time. An equipment malfunction can be devastating to your business. Routine maintenance and inspections throughout the year don’t have to be a time-consuming endeavor.
Small, regular checks are enough to catch impending problems that need immediate fixing. Schedule comprehensive equipment maintenance and preparation in winter — months of inoperable time can relieve the pressure of responding to other business requirements and responsibilities that get in the way of necessary maintenance tasks.
Colder months provide farmers with the down time necessary to execute a thorough maintenance, inspection and care plan on all pieces of equipment.
Annual equipment preparation is a comprehensive undertaking that can be made a lot easier by thinking back and planning ahead. Here are some of the first steps to conduct before you do any equipment preparation:
Whether you use proprietary software or simply an Excel spreadsheet, having a place to store, document and track your equipment preparation progress is important for staying organized. Use this management system as you work through each step of your equipment preparation plan.
Using your equipment management system, take stock of how many pieces of equipment you own and operate during planting and harvesting season. Knowing this can help you determine just how big this undertaking is going to be. As you tally up your equipment totals, note how many have computerized systems and software. These systems can tell you a lot about the performance of your equipment, which can help with maintenance and servicing.
Once you’ve taken inventory, it’s time to reflect. Think back to whether you had any problems during harvest season. Make notes of any issues by marking them on your inventory list. Having information at your fingertips can help you address known issues so you know how to prepare your equipment.
Preparing your equipment takes both time and money. That’s why it’s important to determine beforehand how much of both you’re willing to invest into equipment maintenance and repairs. To help figure this out, ask yourself the following questions:
Your answers will give you a better idea of how to allocate your resources and where to find help if needed.
Once you’ve done an overall assessment of your equipment preparation project, start to execute the tasks. The best way to approach equipment preparation for planting and harvesting is to establish a multi-point checklist. Your equipment preparation multi-point checklist should include the following categories:
Working on your equipment piece by piece is probably the easiest way to execute your plan. That way, you can finish preparing one piece of equipment, cross it off your list and move on to the next. By completing tasks in each of these categories for each piece of equipment, you ensure you’re fully prepared for the next planting and harvesting season.
There are multiple points to consider when getting your equipment prepared for next season. Because farming equipment is such complex machinery, it can be easy to overlook specific care requirements. To help you fully prepare your equipment, here are the top points to follow when maintaining, cleaning, inspecting and testing:
Preventative maintenance — or PM as it’s often called — is a regular and ongoing care plan executed by equipment operators and owners. PM has many goals, including:
All these goals are important to farming businesses that operate many different equipment pieces throughout the planting and harvesting seasons. Regularly scheduled preventative maintenance programs can save a farming operation time and money, which helps farm owners maximize their revenue.
As part of preventative maintenance on farming equipment, farm owners can perform the following tasks on a scheduled and ongoing basis:
Some preventative maintenance items will need to be conducted more frequently than others. Create a schedule that addresses each maintenance item and how often it must be performed.
As you conduct all preventative maintenance items and tasks, document them in your equipment management spreadsheet. These records will prove to be useful throughout the spring and summer and again when you conduct winter equipment preparation.
The next step in preparing your equipment for planting and harvesting is to do a thorough cleaning. When dirt, mud or oil get caked onto equipment, it can be difficult to do thorough maintenance and inspection. When cleaning your equipment, tackle the exterior, interior and all internal components as best as possible.
Here are some tips for thoroughly cleaning your equipment:
The winter off-season is reserved for thorough cleaning. This ensures your equipment is in great condition by the time you’re ready to plant.
Surface-level cleaning should be part of an ongoing preventative maintenance program. Pressure washing or rinsing your equipment right after use prevents any dust and dirt from hardening on the surfaces. Pressure washing requires a bit of strategy. Here are some pressure washing tips:
When preparing your equipment for planting and harvesting, it’s critical to conduct thorough inspections. The goal with inspections is to catch any pertinent safety concerns and correct them before they cause harm or damage when in operation.
Farming safety is a very important topic, and it must be made a priority. Any mishap that causes damage or harm can result in liabilities that can have costly consequences to your business.
These safety incidents and mishaps can be prevented or controlled by following an inspection checklist for each piece of equipment. Here are some questions to ask when inspecting your equipment:
With these questions in mind, make safety inspection a top priority during winter preparation and all year long.
After you’ve performed the maintenance, cleaning and inspecting of your equipment, it’s time to test it. Take the equipment out and operate it on a test-run. Do a final walk-around to make sure everything is working properly. Some of the items to test for include:
Think of equipment testing as the final rehearsal before you send all your equipment into operation for planting season. By doing a final test, you can work out any last kinks or issues before you get back to business in the spring.
There are lots of things to think about when preparing your farming equipment. But thorough preparation is what leads to a successful harvest season and allows a farming business to thrive. Here are some final points to address as you prepare your equipment:
If parts need replacing, do not delay in ordering them. It’s better to order them in advance than be stuck at the last minute without a critical component. Be sure to order spare parts if individual pieces are prone to breaking so you can quickly replace them and avoid any operational downtime.
Your winter preparation plan should include thinking ahead to next year and budgeting your time and money for maintenance and repair costs. Your costs from this year can help you set a realistic expectation for next year’s equipment preparation costs.
Though the winter is a perfect time to do a comprehensive equipment preparation, you should prioritize ongoing maintenance and cleaning. Use the winter to create an equipment management schedule throughout the year.
The equipment management system or spreadsheet you’ve used for tracking your preparation tasks should be used throughout the year for preventative maintenance. By keeping your equipment records in one place, it saves time and helps you be more proactive in your maintenance endeavors.
If you’re undertaking an equipment preparation plan during your winter off-season, use this time to reflect and plan. Think about your business needs and how you can improve your efficiency to maximize your output and grow your revenue.
A huge component of improving efficiency is making sure you have the right equipment for the job. You may be looking at investing in new farming equipment or replacing or upgrading your existing equipment. Altorfer is a leading supplier of agriculture equipment and can provide you with the best equipment for your planting and harvesting seasons. Contact Altorfer today for sales or service or for information on our agriculture equipment.