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Parts & Service

Preventative Maintenance Drives Lower TCO

Tech Tips - Oct 20

Preventative Maintenance Drives Lower TCO

Nate Hoover
Director - Product Management, Boom Lifts
JLG Industries

Regular MEWP (mobile elevating work platforms) inspections, preventive maintenance and ongoing training can improve operator and worker safety, while also increasing the uptime of MEWP equipment fleets.

To achieve the best return on investment possible from your MEWP, it is important to understand best practices in preventive maintenance and develop a plan for optimal fleet health and utilization to lower your total cost of ownership (TCO) over the equipment’s lifespan.
MEWP Maintenance to Lower TCO at a Glance
“Failure to properly maintain boom, scissor and vertical lifts can disrupt project schedules and cause unnecessary downtime that may adversely impact timelines and profitability,” says Nate Hoover, director of marketing and product management for JLG boom lifts. 

Beyond the original equipment manufacturer’s (OEM) inspection checklist, Hoover says that there are additional considerations that JLG recommends that its customers know about when inspecting and maintaining MEWPs.

Defining Inspection Protocols
What’s required for inspections is determined by the OEM, but when and how inspections need to be conducted is greatly influenced by the ANSI (American National Standards Institute) standards in effect. For example, says Hoover, ANSI outlines the suggested frequency of preventive and annual MEWP inspections. 

Hoover adds that inspections are required under the most recent ANSI standards if the MEWP has been out of service for a period longer than three months — or if environmental conditions require a shorter period. And, ANSI advises that 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 the OEM’s recommendations and type of application,” recommends Hoover.

ANSI advises that an annual inspection must be performed on a MEWP no later than 13 months from the date of the prior annual inspection.

ANSI also mandates that each inspection be performed by a technician qualified on the specific make and model of the MEWP, or one having similar design characteristics. Therefore, says Hoover, a mixed fleet must reference the manual of each manufacturer for the specific piece of equipment being inspected to ensure compliance and operator safety. 

“Preventive maintenance contributes to healthier, more productive machines,” says Hoover. “There are many benefits of machine cleanliness, preventing hydraulic system contamination and extending powertrain life by cleaning, as well as protecting the battery against corrosion and using the right fluids during maintenance.” 


Keeping Your MEWP Clean
Dirt and foreign materials that collect in the vital components of a MEWP can shorten its service life and impact resale value, says Hoover. “Although OEMs provide safeguards such as shields, covers, seals and filters to keep air, fuel, oil and grease supplies clean,” says Hoover, “regular maintenance is necessary to function properly.” 

For example, Hoover says, openings in air, fuel or oil lines that are disconnected during maintenance should be covered to prevent dirt or other foreign materials from entering. He advises, “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.”
JLG Boom Lift Maintenance Inspection
Preventing Hydraulic System Contamination
With many MEWPs engineered with hydraulic systems, fluid cleanliness is key to a long life for the system and its components. “Even a small amount of dirt or other contaminants can compromise the functionality of a hydraulic system,” says Hoover. He adds that contamination can be caused by using inadequate hydraulic oil or allowing moisture, grease, filings, sealing components or sand to enter when performing maintenance. “Insufficient warmup or leaks in suction lines can cavitate pumps and cause contamination, too,” he notes. “A tainted system can cause wear or damage to close-fitting parts like valves, pumps and motors and lead to vehicle malfunction, possibly resulting in faulty operation and shorter service life.”

To assess hydraulic oil cleanliness, Hoover says that you need to remove filters and look for cloudy oil or metal particles or perform an oil cleanliness test. “If the hydraulic system has been contaminated, it must be drained, flushed and refilled with clean hydraulic oil,” he says. 

Hoover recommends that equipment owners reference the MEWP’s OEM service manual for how often filters should be checked, cleaned and replaced. Filters may need to be inspected or replaced sooner if the machine is operating in a harsh environment.

Extending the Life of the Powertrain Components
Many combustion engines, says Hoover, specifically diesel, require the use of diesel exhaust fluid (DEF). If the wrong fluid is added, such as screen washer or diesel gas, damage can occur to the exhaust after treatment system and fluid quality sensing system, which can impact system life. 

He also adds that 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 solution of baking soda and water. Once finished, rinse with clean water. After rinsing, thoroughly dry the battery and coat with an anti-corrosion compound to prevent further corrosion.

Complying with the Latest Industry Standards
In addition to key areas of MEWP maintenance, the new suite of ANSI 92 standards now requires rental companies to retrain technicians on the current standards for each class of equipment they service. 

The new suite of ANSI 92 standards now requires rental companies to retrain technicians on the current standards for each class of equipment they service.

End-users also face new responsibilities related to equipment compliance under the standards. “The new standards require the annual machine inspection (AMI) completion dates be noted on the MEWP,” says Hoover. “Machines not marked may either be returned from the site to the rental company if the equipment is on rent, or the AMI will need to be completed by the equipment owner before use.” 

He adds, “If rental companies or equipment owners use a third-party to support machine inspections and maintenance beyond daily walk-arounds, they must verify the person responsible is adhering to the new standard.”

By following industry best practices for safe use and operation, proper MEWP maintenance allows equipment owners to rent a fleet of machines that offers operators optimal performance and uptime. And, regular service of MEWPs ensures compliance to industry standards, reduces the risk of workplace accidents and helps to achieve the lowest TCO possible for your MEWP.

You can find more information about MEWP maintenance here.


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