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The busy spring cleaning season is slowly creeping closer. For some, it can’t arrive quickly enough.
While you can’t control the weather and — for the most part — consumer reaction to warming temperatures, bright sunny days and growing flowers, you can make good use of your time now.
When the telephone starts to ring and your customers are ready for cleaning, your company must be ready. This includes your truckmounts.
Are you ready to perform a truckmount tune-up?
The long, cold winter season means that a truckmount tune-up may be needed.
“A spring service is very important,” said Jerry McKillip, the national service and training manager with Prochem. “During the winter months, the outside temperatures are cooler and will mask many problems. Truckmounts just run cooler.”
When the summer temperatures start creeping up, problem may surface. “I could write a long list of things that should be taken care of, but I would suggest using the maintenance information in your truckmount operation manual for a reference or guide,” McKillip said.
Like any piece of machinery, truckmounts require maintenance to keep them operating at peak performance.
To borrow from the phrase, “An ounce of prevention equals a pound of cure,” Dennis Russell, the customer care representative with HydraMaster, strongly believes in proper truckmount education.
“Education of service requirements and service intervals and documentation of these intervals is critical,” Russell said. “Read the owner’s manual. Ask questions. Take ownership of service on your equipment. Follow all recommended service requirements.”
Lou Querin, the sales manager with Cleanco Truckmounts, said that preventative maintenance is simply smart business. “By following the manufacturer’s schedule for both the truckmounted cleaning system and the vehicle it is mounted in, you can choose when to take it in for service rather than scrambling to get it done when there is a problem.”
As with most projects, an inspection gives you the opportunity to analyze and then perform needed tasks.
For your truckmount, this means inspecting anything on the machine that can break, wear out or that needs replaced on a regular schedule.
“Some examples of items to change are belts, pump seals, blower and pump oils, chemical pump diaphragm, any hoses or fittings that show signs of leaking and any other component that seems not to function correctly,” according to Jon Simmons, the customer services manager with Sapphire Scientific.
To do a proper inspection, grab a flashlight and start looking, McKillip suggests.
“I always start at the front of the truckmount. If it is an air-cooled engine, check the front of the air intake for any foreign material. If it is a water-cooled engine, check the radiator. Check the coolant for the proper level. Moving toward the back of the unit, check any belts on the machine, and always make sure you twist the belt and look at the back for wear and cracks.”
He suggests checking spark plug wires and boots for a tight fit. Always inspect for any signs of any liquid (oil, anti-freeze) on the frame, as this may be an indicator of a pending problem.
“Continue moving to the back of the unit, checking blower belts for wear and water box supply lines,” McKillip added. “Finish up at everyone’s favorite spot: The waste tank. Check all filters and strainer baskets.”
He added that since the battery is usually in the same area as the waste tank, take time to check the acid levels and the terminals for corrosion.
And, of course, don’t forget the pressure hoses and filter screens, as they can become damaged and/or clogged with regular usage. Vacuum hoses should be inspected and replaced as necessary.
John Sales, president of Steamaction International Inc., recommends that the spring season should automatically trigger maintenance changes for the blower oil, engine oil and pump oil.
“Leaving a job because of faulty equipment not only loses income, but damages future business and good will,” Sales said. “Down time waiting on replacement parts is devastating to the bottom line. Word of mouth can be your best friend or your worst enemy.”
Russell stressed the need to follow the recommended oil change service intervals on the engine, blower and high pressure water pump. “If the customer is doing his own service, he should keep very accurate records,” he said. This ensures that proper maintenance is followed.
Besides the typical spring tune-up, you should check oil levels and coolant levels on all components. This is even more important during the busy spring season.
“Watch for smells, unusual odors or noises coming from the truckmount,” Russell said. “Look for signs of leaking fluids, oils, coolants, wastewater and more.”
In addition to the above items, wiring should be inspected for loose connections, frayed insulation or signs of corrosion, Simmons said.
“Anything noted should be repaired immediately. Most machines complete electrical circuits by bolting ground wires to the machine chassis. Even though they may seem tight, it’s a good idea to take them off, clean all surfaces of any corrosion and retighten them.”
Grounding issues are difficult to locate and a little prevention will prevent time lost searching for a problem, Simmons added. He suggested that the machine should be thoroughly cleaned and each component inspected for leaks or other potential problems.
Rick McDonald, the national service manager with the Bridgewater Corporation, believes that lack of equipment maintenance leads to poor equipment performance, resulting in reduced overall equipment life.
“Problems such as hard starting or a machine that won’t start, overall running poorly or won't stay running, overheating, poor or no solution pressure, poor or no vacuum pressure, low solution temperature and many more equipment problems are some of the challenges that you can prevent,” McDonald said.
Poorly maintained equipment will lead to lower customer satisfaction, McDonald added. Equipment not performing properly can lead to chemical waste, more man hours spent at jobs, higher fuel consumption and costs, and more.
One solution that most truckmount operators should consider is with the water system.
“If you are not running a water softener system, consider installing one. Hard water deposits are a primary reason for early truckmount failure,” Sales said.
Challenges, problems and failures
No one can, with 100 percent accuracy, predict what will happen to truckmount performance.
“I guess Murphy’s Law applies here. If it can go wrong, it will,” according to Simmons. “And usually at the most inopportune time, like just after you have moved all the furniture and pre-sprayed the carpet!”
Scheduling downtime when it is convenient makes more sense than leaving in the middle of a job and hoping your truckmount mechanic can get you in for repair with no notice.
Do yourself a big favor. As spring approaches, perform a truckmount tune-up. You will not be sorry.