Age Gracefully

Rod Sutton, Editor in Chief | September 28, 2010

Rod Sutton, Editor in Chief
Rod Sutton, Editor in Chief

It's awesome to watch the power as construction equipment performs its task. When all parts of the machine work at peak and in sync, the performance shines much like that of an Olympic athlete.

Forgive the romanticism, but aging machines also remind us of athletes. Undeniably, some Olympians perform well enough to medal in three or even four consecutive games; others burn brightly, then are eclipsed four years later by another star. Same with machines: During peak life, they effortlessly complete task after task. Yet at some point, the aging process catches up with the job requirements and machine performance falters.

Construction Equipment's Universe of Construction Equipment study quantifies the aging process for 28 machine categories, and it shows an overall increase in average age in many. Our Lifecycle Research identifies average componentry life spans for three machine categories, showing when repair costs (a sign of aging) may start to affect machine efficiency.

We invest in such research as a service to the industry, and smart fleet managers invest time and thought to compile their own data. Regardless of the number of machines in any given category, the effective manager should know the costs, hours of work, and age of each major machine in the fleet.

If there are only a couple of machines in any given category, that manager must determine how those machines measure up against the industry. All machines age; but their performance depends on more than years. Benchmark these machines against industry averages, such as our research, and against other comparable fleets. Join an association, such as the Association of Equipment Management Professionals, to network with noncompetitors.

With several machines in a category, a manager has an existing benchmark. Compile the data to create profiles of machine standards. Use them to determine age and reliability, then compare with industry averages and comparable fleets.

There are no Olympic trials in fleet management; each machine must perform when put to the task. Managers must know each machine's capabilities and keep the aging process in mind, if not in complete control.

Author Information
Rod Sutton, Editor in Chief, 630/288-8130;,