Maintenance can drive lower total cost of ownership.
By Bill Dovey
ANSI requires extensive recordkeeping of boom lift maintenance
New ANSI standards will require changes to maintenance recordkeeping.
Keep it clean
Keep it clean. Be diligent in keeping contaminants out of engine, coolant, electrical hydraulic systems and drives.
Proper maintenance of access equipment allows owners to sell and rent a safe fleet of machines and is critical to performance and uptime. Failure to properly maintain boom, scissor and vertical lifts can disrupt a project schedule and put it over budget.
Regular service of aerial work platforms (AWPs), now referred to by the American National Standards Institute (ANSI) as mobile elevating work platforms (MEWPs), is necessary to ensure compliance, prevent workplace accidents and lower total cost of ownership. Beyond the inspection checklist, here are items to consider when inspecting and maintaining aerial lifts.
ANSI standards define inspection protocols
ANSI A92.6 outlines the frequency of preventive and annual MEWP inspection requirements. Federal law requires a frequency inspection every 90 days or 150 hours, whichever comes first. An annual inspection must be performed on a MEWP no later than 13 months from the date of the prior annual inspection. Owners should consider placing MEWPs on a planned maintenance schedule based on hours of operation and type of application.
ANSI also mandates inspections be performed by a technician qualified on the specific make and model of the MEWP or one having similar design characteristics. What’s required for inspections is determined by the original equipment manufacturer (OEM). Owners of mixed fleets must reference the manual of each manufacturer for the specific piece of equipment being inspected to ensure compliance and operator safety.
Cleanliness extends service life
Dirt and foreign materials that collect on a MEWP can shorten its service life and impact resale value. Although manufacturers provide safeguards such as shields, covers, seals and filters to keep air, fuel, oil and grease supplies clean, regular maintenance is still necessary.
Openings in air, fuel or oil lines that are disconnected during maintenance should be covered to prevent dirt or other foreign materials from entering. When replacing old or damaged parts, such as oil and air filters, keep the new parts in their containers to maintain cleanliness and avoid scratching or scoring.
Prevent hydraulic system contamination
Hydraulic system fluid cleanliness is key to a long life for the system and its components. Even a small amount of dirt or other contaminant can compromise the hydraulic system. Contamination can be caused by using inadequate hydraulic oil or allowing moisture, grease, filings, sealing components or sand to enter while performing maintenance. Insufficient warm-up or leaks in suction lines can cavitate pumps and cause contamination. A tainted system can damage close-fitting parts like valves, pumps and motors, leading to malfunctions that could result in faulty operation and shorter service life.
To assess hydraulic oil cleanliness, remove filters and look for cloudy oil or metal particles. If the hydraulic system has been contaminated, it must be drained, flushed and refilled with clean hydraulic oil. The MEWP’s service manual will share how often filters should be checked, cleaned and replaced. Filters may need to be inspected more often if the machine is operating in a harsh environment.
Extending powertrain life
Many diesel engines require using diesel exhaust fluid (DEF). If the wrong fluid is added, such as screen washer or diesel fuel, the injection, ejection fluid quality sensing systems may be damaged, impacting system life.
While battery packs are unlikely to become contaminated with foreign material, they may be subject to corrosion. To clean the battery, use a non-metallic brush and a solution of baking soda and water, then rinse with clean water and thoroughly dry it. Coat the terminals with an anti-corrosion compound.
New ANSI standards compliance
ANSI A92 updates are expected to be published in May 2018 and rental companies, dealers and distributors must be in compliance within one year of its publication date.
Rental companies will be required to train technicians on the current standards for each class of equipment they service. Equipment dealers and rental companies should also help operators understand and plan for these changes. End users may face challenges with new equipment and will have questions about site training and compliance.
The new standard requires annual machine inspections (AMI); completion and expiration dates must be noted on the MEWP. If rental firms use a third party for machine inspections and maintenance beyond daily walk-arounds, they must verify that person follows the new standard.
Under the new standard, operators with suitable experience may complete self-familiarization to reduce service calls to owners for minor operational adjustments. The requirement still exists to offer familiarization, but will be on an as-requested basis. In response to this change, rental companies may choose to use alternative customer service practices.
Another way rental companies can be more efficient is by stocking commonly used parts, attachments and supplies, eliminating rush orders and saving time and money.
Several changes to the manufacturing standards of MEWPs are anticipated, including load- and tilt-sensing, wind-force requirements, entrance gates, platform railings, tires and machine markings. Many OEMs have already undertaken these functional changes; operation manuals will include these updates.
New machinery components must be supplied by the OEM and meet the OEM specs to remain compliant. For example, replacing a gate with a chain on a new machine is an unauthorized product modification and will render the machine non-compliant.
Rental companies may see an increase in requests for information on retrofit accessories and must explain the manufacturer’s new warnings and instructions to renters. Rental companies should assist end users in meeting these new obligations. Equipment owners and dealers will need to consider how to familiarize their technicians with the new features brought on by the design requirements.
Regular MEWP inspections, preventive maintenance and ongoing training will improve operator and worker safety and increase uptime of equipment fleets. Partner with OEMs to understand best practices and develop a plan for optimal fleet utilization, which will help lower total cost of ownership.
Bill Dovey is senior product manager at JLG Industries Inc.
This article originally appeared in the May-June 2018 issue of Pro Contractor Rentals magazine, © 2018 Direct Business Media