SALTEX 2021: Preventative Maintenance for Turfcare Machinery
Ride-on mower

Published on

October 15 2021

With SALTEX 2021, the leading turf management event and exhibition for groundscare professionals and manufacturers, just around the corner – we’re sharing the latest machinery maintenance article from Industry expert Ian Sumpter.

Maintenance of any machinery starts with the first step in any workshop repair process, that being preventative maintenance. Turfcare maintenance programmes should always start with good day to day management. This is the first crucial step to reduce potential breakdowns and get the best from your machinery fleet.

Ian Sumpter Machinery Maintenance

Pre-start Checks

The first step to avoiding costly repairs is to understand the importance of operators doing their pre-start checks.  For anyone using work equipment there are strict regulations in place; the provision and use of work equipment regulations (PUWER).

PUWER is clear in that: Firstly ‘It is used only by people who have received adequate training.’

‘Adequate training’ is open to interpretation and will vary from person to person. One way to meet requirements is to use a professional trainer backed by an awarding body to cover this essential training. The current minimum machinery standards for pre-start checks for greenkeeping apprenticeships are; Apprentices must carry out preparation (oil and fuel) of the equipment for the task. My question is always ‘are these minimum standards satisfactory to keep your machinery in best possible condition and so prevent the need for costly repairs’?

Secondly ‘It is safe for use, maintained in a safe condition and, in certain circumstances, inspected to ensure this remains the case’

‘Safe for use’ and ‘Maintained in a safe condition’ - if we are failing to do correct pre-start checks do, we feel this is satisfactory to maintain the machine in a safe condition for use? Additionally, are basic checks ensuring that we are complying with PUWER where we need to Inspect to ensure the machinery remains safe to use?

The importance of complying with PUWER and carrying out pre-start checks, is to maintain safety standards. This will, in turn, keep the machinery in the best possible condition preventing the need for costly repairs and forms the first step in maintaining our machinery.

Routine Service Schedule

Having the correct pre-start checks in place is one step and helps identify potential issues before it becomes a costly repair. Likewise, routine servicing will help prevent break downs and the need for potentially costly repairs.

As well as PUWER legislating, ‘It is safe for use, maintained in a safe condition and inspected to ensure this remains the case’, PUWER states;

‘Anyone maintaining work equipment must have had adequate training’.

Complying with legislation its clear, if wanting to, or already doing maintenance adequate training should have been carried out. With this in mind, there are options available to greenkeepers and technicians to both develop skills and maintain current skills. Some manufacturers run courses specific to their brand and there is also specific nationally accredited turfcare machinery maintenance courses available. Whatever route you decide is best for you, the current training being offered is delivered around your work schedule and can be delivered away from work, online or at your place of work. 

Routine service work is about ‘planning’ most operator manuals will inform you of the recommended service intervals. There are plenty of inexpensive management systems available to help you with this planning. You could build a basic excel spread sheet to help you keep track of service dates, part numbers, costs etc. Obtaining the service manual for each piece of equipment will be a significant help. Although not all manufacturers provide service manuals, they are becoming more available and some you can download on-line.  

Ian Sumpter Machinery Maintenance 2

Machinery Breakdown Issues

We work in a particularly harsh environments, out in all weathers, high temperatures, build-up of grass/debris, washing machinery down, all can

have a detrimental effect on the machinery we use. After correct servicing backed up by the proper pre-start checks it is still inevitable at some point in our machinery life span, it will fail. When these failures happen, we have one of two decisions, callout the nearest turfcare specialist technician or if we have had ‘adequate training’ we can start the fault-finding process ourselves.

Over the next few months this series of articles is aimed at those that want to developing current skills to be able to take at least the first steps to identify issues and possible fixes. If the ability to fix the issue is in our current skill set, we can continue and fix the issue without the need of a technician call out. If the issue is beyond our skill set, we will understand it requires a turfcare specialist technician call out.

Want to find out more about our ground care maintenance suite? Join us for a catch up at SALTEX, which is taking place at the NEC Birmingham from 3 – 4 November 2021.

You can find us on Stand E112 for all of your questions or training needs, simply pop by and say hello.

If you’d like to speak to someone before the event, or would like to arrange a more formal meeting at Saltex, please email David Fisher or call 02476 696996.

This article was first published in the July 2021 issue of Greenkeeper International magazine.