Finning Canada: When to repair, replace or rebuild forestry equipment

forestry machine

The right forestry equipment maintenance plan can help increase productivity for foresters 

By Mark Nelson, major product support sales representative Finning Canada 

Forestry has experienced many ups and downs and still faces on-going challenges, from environmental and weather conditions, fluctuating lumber prices and stumpage to government regulations. 

With this in mind, equipment health and availability should be the top priority. 

No matter what is happening in the industry, every contractor has one common goal — to maximize productivity. 

Keeping jobs going and equipment moving is key to an efficient operation. Whether it’s one feller buncher or a fleet of logstackers, at some point, loggers need to consider what to do when the machine reaches its end of life.

In order to get the most out of the forestry equipment and the technology, they need to engage their dealers at the point of purchase, consider their options and follow a regularly scheduled maintenance plan through each stage of the machine’s life to determine the best plan of action for their business. 

Maintenance is key 

Following a maintenance program can help give your machine the care and attention it needs to maximize its work life. 

Regular maintenance combined with just-in-time service can decrease downtime, extend operating hours and ensure you meet productivity goals. Done right, you can stretch that initial 10,000-hour milestone to 12,000 hours or more before you need to consider a trade-in or rebuild. 

Maintenance plans also help track important service milestones, ensuring machines are kept in top health and repairs are done before they become a bigger issue to both your business and the bottom line. An unplanned failure can cost three to four times that of a planned component change-out. And this doesn’t account for the added issues associated with lack of productivity. 

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The right dealer is equipped to help with parts and maintenance programs such as remote monitoring, which provides a unified view of the health, location and productivity of your entire fleet and can significantly increase uptime.

When a machine is monitored by the dealer, they will advise when maintenance or repairs are required to avoid a failure; what technologies are going to best support your business; what parts are needed for the job; and access to ordering the parts when needed. This can help to prevent ordering and shipping delays and minimize the time the machine is out of service. 

Dealers can also support in the collection and analysis of data, an important tool when it comes to monitoring machine health and tracking maintenance and service requirements to maximize uptime. The data can also help the customer understand when the best time is to rebuild or replace their equipment.

A strategy from the start 

The expense of owning, operating and maintenance will affect the total cost of the machine, but future depreciation, resale value and production levels also need to be considered. 

The end goal is always profitability and to get the best return on your investment. Once you understand what your business priorities are and conduct a cost analysis, it is also important to look at the advantages and disadvantages of repairing, rebuilding or replacing your equipment and when it makes the most sense to do so.

A basic rebuild involves replacing parts, changing out components, calibration and adjustments, with the result being a like-new machine that can perform at the same level as a brand new one.

Get organized

A good rebuild should be well organized, ensuring all the necessary parts are ordered in advance of the job start date, allowing time to schedule technicians for the repair, go over the rebuild plan in detail and understand the owners’ expectations and business needs. If not properly planned, a rebuild can go on for months and have an even bigger impact on your bottom line.

Maintenance and minor repairs aim to keep equipment components intact, so the forestry machine can continue to function and accumulate hours. By inspecting your equipment all the time, you can catch the little things before they become big things and avoid a visit to the repair shop. This can be the fastest and most affordable way to keep a machine up and running.

Another option is a trade in for a new or used machine. The risk is not getting the most value out of the equipment, if you trade it in too early. If the data has not been captured on the machine from the beginning, it can result in an unnecessary loss in value. 

Rebuilding or repairing forestry equipment can be more economical than purchasing new, but doing a cost analysis is the best way to get the full picture. A Life Cycle Profitability (LCP) calculator can help you decide on the best option for your business. Your LCP plan should start the day you buy the machine and you should discuss with your dealer at the time of purchase what options are available to you. 

Tap into your resources 

When a machine is out of service it has a huge effect on productivity and as a result, your bottom line. 

A concrete business plan and maintenance strategy can help you better understand what you need from your equipment and the costs associated with it, both in the short and long term. Forestry operations can stay productive and efficient when loggers see the advantage of investing in quality equipment, leveraging new technologies and partnering with an experienced and informed dealer.