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By Mike Fitzpatrick
Grounds Management Article Use Policy
The issue of mower inspection, repair and service also factors into the specification process, since managers need to understand whether they need to commit in-house resources.
Should in-house mechanics and operators handle the duties? If the decision is to take equipment to the dealer, managers need to know the rates they charge, their scheduling practices, and the manufacturer’s recommended service intervals.
Departments that handle service in-house still need to follow these intervals. They also need to make sure mechanics and operators have the skills needed to perform the service properly, whether the task is changing oil, changing blades, replacing filters, or doing minor repairs.
Replacement parts for some mowers cost more than similar parts for other mowers. Beyond that cost, some mowers are much easier to service than others. On certain machines, it is easier to access the blades, and some have much more accessible belts, air filters, oil filters and hydraulic filters than others.
Consider the case of two similarly constructed mowers from different manufacturers. One mower has only four lubrication points, while the other has 38. But side by side and painted them the same color, an operator or mechanic probably would not be able to tell them apart.
The key to in-house service success is to have a plan to maintain equipment and then to specify the right piece of equipment that fits that plan. For departments that service a piece of equipment themselves, the process must be as efficient as possible, and workers must be capable of doing the work.
The good news is that more and more dealers are making maintenance part of the purchase. Much like car manufacturers, landscaping equipment dealers are including the service plan with the price so there are no out-of-pocket expenses to get a machine serviced.
Of course, the department still pays for it at one end or the other, but from a manager’s perspective, it is better to have that service plan included so there is absolutely no reason base maintenance is not performed.
Managers can derive a great deal of value from the sense of ownership that occurs when people who use equipment perform routine maintenance. But, unless a department has a skilled in-house mechanic, taking the mower back to the dealer for any major repairs often is the most effective approach.
In short, managers should get as many hours as possible out of the equipment investment, and service is essential in achieving that goal.
Mowers: Cost Considerations of Owning vs. Leasing
Mowers: Factors in Specification Process
Mowers: Focusing on Safety and Long-Term Performance