4  FM quick reads on ground operations

1. Equipment Rental Offers Managers Many Advantages


I'm Steve Schuster, associate editor of Maintenance Solutions magazine. Today's topic discusses equipment rental. Renting equipment is an essential strategy for maintenance and engineering managers looking to supplement their staff's arsenal of in-house tools and technology. From generators and emergency-cooling units to specialized grounds equipment and aerial work platforms, managers have a range of issues to consider in their efforts to make a smart rental decisions. Equipment rental offers many advantages. Costs are fixed, and they are expensed each year as they are incurred. Also, the equipment is used 100 percent. The department does not pay for downtime in the storage yard. When deciding to rent equipment, consider these guidelines:

  • Have a well-trained and experienced equipment operator.
  • Get manuals for rented equipment, along with a maintenance log, to verify recommended maintenance has been performed on time.
  • Check for visible damage of the body, frame and accessories.
  • Perform a complete pre-operation inspection checklist. The item that is not checked during this process is the one that will fail.
  • Make sure moving parts are guarded.
  • Ensure safety devices and warning lights and horns are working.
  • Be certain the lift equipment and related products are properly sized for both the operating space and load capacity.
  • Make sure no warning lights or strange sounds indicate problems.
  • Make sure gauges are working.


All of these factors yield smarter, more cost-effective decisions that can lower the equipment rental costs and help managers deliver a safe, high-quality project.


2.  Considering Electric Utility Vehicles

I'm Steve Schuster, associate editor of Maintenance Solutions magazine. Today's topic discusses considering electric vehicles.

Maintenance managers and their staffs have come to rely on utility vehicles for a host of duties around institutional and commercial facilities. From moving people and materials to performing grounds care tasks, the vehicles have become all-purpose, ever-flexible tools of facilities maintenance and grounds care.

Recent years have seen the introduction of one more variable in the equation — the power source. Now, in addition to sorting through options for utility vehicles and golf carts that include cost, size, speed, horsepower, capacity, and attachments, managers also must decide whether they would like the vehicle to be gasoline powered or operate on an alternative fuel source. Among the more popular choices in the latter category are electric utility vehicles.

The challenge now is even more complex as manufacturers continue to roll out new models of electric vehicles and their smaller relatives, electric golf carts. But for managers considering the move to electric vehicles, understanding equipment options is only part of the process.

For Salt Lake Community College (SLCC) in addition to green benefits, climate was an important factor in the decision.

And while managers in some cases have hesitated in committing to electric vehicles because of issues related to keeping the vehicles charged, SLCC officials say their staff has adapted well to the battery technology.

3.  Extending the performance life of paved surfaces

I'm Steve Schuster, associate editor of Maintenance Solutions magazine. Today's topic is extending the life of paved surfaces.

Exterior concrete and asphalt surfaces create a visitor's first impression of an institutional or commercial building. If these surfaces — driveways, parking lots, and sidewalks — are not maintained properly and deteriorate, they can present problems for grounds managers, including poor appearance, tripping hazards, and costly repairs.

For managers to properly diagnose problems and ensure workers make cost-effective repairs, they need to understand the leading cause of problems related to these surfaces and specify the most appropriate repair products.

The leading causes of concrete and asphalt problems generally fall into three categories: design, use, and maintenance.

Even properly applied asphalt can develop problems that result from the effects of ultraviolet rays, water, petroleum products, and traffic. New asphalt combines asphalt-cement binder, sand and stone, and it is black. As the surface dries, asphalt turns gray from the absence of binder, and the elements begin to deteriorate it.

Effective repair strategies for concrete and asphalt depend on following a proven repair procedure. The following method can help ensure longer-lasting and less costly repairs:

-Determine the cause of the damage.

-Assess the extent of the damage.

-Evaluate the need to repair

-Determine the needed repair method.

-Perform a thorough preparation of the old concrete or asphalt surface, and

-Finish the repair properly, including curing the concrete, or tamping or rolling the asphalt.

Workers should inspect sections of concrete that most often deteriorate from freezing weather. These sections include exposed surfaces, such as posts, handrails, piers, parapets, and the top 2 feet of walls.

4.  Improving Motor Efficiency

I'm Steve Schuster, associate editor of Maintenance Solutions magazine. Today's topic is motor efficiency.

Motors and the loads they drive represent some of the largest users of electricity in commercial and institutional facilities. Because motors are such high users of energy, they present a tremendous opportunity for maintenance and engineering managers to reduce energy use and cost through improved motor efficiency.

Much has happened recently that gives managers tools to improve motor efficiency. The federal government has developed energy standards that manufacturers must meet for the types of motors commonly found in a facility's energy-using systems. Replacing standard-efficiency motors with high-efficiency motors will reduce the energy requirements for that motor by about 2-8 percent. While that might not seem like a major improvement, depending on the horsepower of the motor and the number of hours it operates annually, the energy savings can be significant.

All of these energy-efficiency improvements come at a cost, however. The typical high-efficiency motor typically costs 10-15 percent more than the standard-efficiency motor it replaces. Premium-efficiency motors cost even more. But to help offset this increased cost and provide managers with the incentive to upgrade to more efficient motors, some utilities offer rebates and other incentives that can be as high as $50 per horsepower (hp).

Managers should evaluate their options based on the particular application. The amount of money they can save will depend not only on an improvement in operating efficiency but also on local utility rates and the annual number of hours of operation for that particular motor.


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