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Equipment will never last forever, but the life-span of your machines has a huge impact on your bottom line. Equipment is a colossal investment. Learn how to get the most from it. Here’s the top 7 ways to ensure your machine is giving you all it’s got.

  1. CHOOSE THE RIGHT MACHINE: Regardless of your application, matching the right machine to the right job is a must. The use of a larger-than-necessary machine can harm your efficiency (making a huge dent in your profits), but using a machine that is too small can cause unnecessary wear or component failure. Don’t default to a set of standards. Choose your equipment line-up based on the individual needs of the job. If you don’t have what you need, you can always rent or purchase new or used equipment depending on your budget and needs.
  2. KEEP A GOOD MAINTENANCE SCHEDULE: Preventative maintenance is the main thing that stands between you and a poorly timed break-down. Fluids, tracks, tires, seals and electrical systems are just a few of the things that need a regular check-up. We know that keeping a schedule and tracking each vehicle in your fleet can get overwhelming (particularly as your fleet grows) but it is necessary to your success. Need help managing it all? Let us know!
  3. CHECK FOR WEAR: It can take up to a 20% loss of efficiency for an experienced operator to notice a difference in machine function, but improper component wear can often be identified before that. Machine vibration, friction, failing components, and poor operating conditions can often lead to detectable wear. You ability to notice can save you from downtime. Make of habit of completing regular checks for unnatural leaks, warping, scraping, and other signs of wear on your equipment and components.
  4. KEEP IT CLEAN: Cleanliness on a job site sounds like a fairytale. We all know equipment gets dirty. After all, we move earth and other materials on a daily basis. It’s what you do with your downtime, however, that makes the difference. Seals and filters keep many of your equipment’s fluids and components free of contaminants. Inspect them regularly to ensure they are in good repair and replace them as necessary. Also store and work on your equipment in a clean space. Contamination is a killer, but we’re here to help
  5. MAINTAIN YOUR FLUIDS: Fluids are there to reduce friction and the resulting heat build-up. They are the easiest and most important check you will ever do during maintenance. Every day it is a good idea to check your pistons, hydraulics, seals and other near-fluid components for signs of leaking. In addition, be sure you are using the right lubricant (recommended lubricants can vary so check with the machine’s manufacturer) and have an expert regularly analyze your fluids for contamination. Want to learn more? Take a video tour of our SOS fluids lab to see how they analyze your fluids.
  6. CHECK YOUR OPERATORS: Equipment is often operated by multiple different operators, but one weak operator can rob your machine of life and your components of work-hours. Improper training is easy to catch, but what about your seasoned operators? Over time, even the best operators get rusty, which can lead to more frequent breakdowns. Keep up-to-date on the newest operating standards and training and be sure your operators do the same. The more everyone knows about your equipment, the better, more efficient, and less costly machine operations will be for your business.
  7. ADJUST MAINTENANCE FOR CONDITIONS THAT MAY BE CONSIDERED EXTREME: Keeping careful track of your components and preventative maintenances schedules is vital to avoiding untimely breakdowns. When operating in extreme conditions, however, your regular scheduled maintenance may not be enough to avoid problems. Extremely dusty or dry conditions (like those found in Southern Idaho, Eastern Oregon and Northwestern Wyoming) may require more frequent seal checks and air filter cleaning (maybe even the use of pre-cleaners). The harsh winters, dense materials and wet springs of Eastern Washington, Western Montana and Northern Idaho can cause excess abrasion to your under carriage, requiring more frequent maintenance. If you are operating in extreme conditions, conduct more frequent visual inspections and consider a more aggressive preventative maintenance routine!

Extending the life of your equipment and components can be as simple as proper monitoring and maintenance.  We know this can be a time-consuming and burdensome process. If you need help, we offer 12 service locations, remote monitoring/management services and multiple field trucks to help with your every need. Contact your nearest Western States location today to see what we can do for you.


Equipment selection can be the most difficult part of planning a project, but it is vital to bidding, equipment life, site efficiency, and the overall success of your business. Not all heavy equipment can be used to perform the same tasks and even when functions overlap, efficiency must still be considered, as must the wear on your equipment.

So, how do you choose? There are multiple considerations, but here’s a list of the 5 things you need to consider most before making your decision.

    • What are your current capabilities and what do you need to complete the job?
    • What job(s) can each machine complete for this project?
    • Is the selected machine the most efficient for the job?
    • Where are your machines located in relation to the jobsite?
    • Are there space limitations, nearby structures, weight limits, or noise restrictions?
    • What type of soil will you be working with and how abrasive is it?
    • How big is the project?
    • How much power will your machines need to have?
    • What condition is your machine in?
    • Have you kept up with machine maintenance?
    • If a machine needs to be serviced, can you get it done before the job begins?
    • What will it cost to get each piece of equipment to the site?
    • What will it cost to operate each piece on site?
    • What are the insurance needs?
    • How much fuel will you need?
    • What backup parts might you need to make the job a success?
    • Do you need equipment beyond your current fleet?
    • Can anything in your fleet be safely and properly adapted to meet those additional needs?
    • Would the cost of renting or buying be justified?
    • What are the purchase financing options and do they work for your business?
    • What timeline are you looking at to rent or buy equipment?

If you are still having difficulty, did you know Cat’s Equipment Management Solutions (EMSolutions) can help monitor your machine use and assist with fleet utilization on your job site? You even get reports detailing how you compare to others in the region so you know when you’re at the top of your game.

Check out our EMSolutions page where you will find more information about this service as well as a video that shows how we can help you achieve greater efficiency on your site. Want to talk? Contact your local Western States location and we’d be happy to walk you through it over the phone or in person.

Click the image below to download version 46 of the Caterpillar Performance Handbook.


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