When opting to incorporate financed equipment in their daily operations, small business owners need to ensure they’re taking the appropriate steps to safeguard the machinery from the harsh winter elements. Some individuals might think that since they’re leasing equipment, they don’t need to worry about maintaining the quality of the machinery. However, whether one owns or finances their equipment, there many reasons why proper storage and winterizing techniques should be the top priority before the weather becomes too extreme.
Preparing this equipment for a cold, snowy season of non-use reduces downtime and stress, and, ultimately can boost profits once spring rolls around. If not properly winterized, machinery will have a difficult time getting started once the weather warms. In addition, not only can it be tough to start the equipment, leaving it exposed to the brutal elements, or not sufficiently preparing it for a full season of storage can damage the machinery’s critical components.
AgWeb created a helpful acronym for remembering what needs to be done to properly winterize and store farm equipment. Dubbed FARMS, this mnemonic device is easy to recall and provides small business operators with a simple tool that they can use to touch upon the key winterizing techniques.
- Fill tanks
Be sure to top off all the fuel and hydraulic oil tanks for the machinery, which eliminates condensation occurring once the weather turns warm. Condensation can cause water to enter an empty tank. In addition, diesel exhaust fluid should be stored in its original container during the winter.
- Adequately lubricate
The equipment’s operator manual will have instructions for what needs to be lubricated. This reduces the chances of the machinery rusting up or not budging once Spring rolls around. Protect unpainted metal parts from the elements by greasing them too.
- Repair damage
Before tossing a tarp on machinery for the winter, be sure to take the time to repair any damage or faulty parts. Leaving broken parts unfixed can cause these parts to get rusted or worn out during the winter, meaning they can become much more difficult or even impossible to repair once all the snow melts.
- Maintain and clean
Once the equipment has been prepped for storage, small business owners and managers should regularly check on the machinery. In addition to clearing away dust and debris and cleaning the equipment, this can also include periodically changing the oil and other fluids, as well as protecting the air inlets and checking tire pressures. As Grounds Maintenance noted, disconnect the battery, and if possible, remove it and store it separately, which eliminates parasitic voltage loss. In addition, fan belts should be checked for condition, tension and alignment.
- Store equipment
While keeping the machinery indoors and under a roof is always the most ideal place to store equipment, sometimes this option isn’t available for small businesses. If the equipment must be kept outside, lessors should coat it with water-resistant wax and cover it with a tarp.
While the FARMS acronym can be a valuable tool for assisting equipment lessors with a reminder of what they need to do to properly winterize and store their machinery, it’s not an all inclusive. Since each piece of equipment is different, they will all require their own particular maintenance. Best judgment will need to be employed for maintaining and storing certain types of leased equipment. Although it takes a little bit of extra effort at the beginning of the winter, taking the necessary steps to properly store the equipment ultimately makes it significantly easier to get operations up and running again in the Spring.