You’ve worked hard, you’ve saved your money, you deserve to spoil yourself. You drive to the car dealership, walk in proud as can be and plunk down $400,000 for a brand new shiny red Ferrari 812 Superfast. One of the world’s most incredible feets of automotive engineering. You take the The Pilota Ferrari driving course to learn how to get the most out of your new found love. You never miss the regularly scheduled maintenance intervals and as amazing as this car is and exciting it is to drive, this vehicle won’t earn you a single penny. None the less, you will love this car like its your child ensuring it is cared for in every way possible to keep it pristine.
Nothing is to good for your shiny red Ferrari! Right? Well why not your boom truck?
1. READ THE OWNER’S MANUAL
Did you know that less than 1% of boom truck owners read their owners manual unless there is a problem? Did you know that unless a company is forced to have proper training few companies will ever provide it?
We have a local customer who owns several boom trucks. We won’t see the trucks for months and months. Then we see the same truck 3 times in one week. This will prompt me to call our customer and ask him how long has he had a new operator? And of course he wonders how I would know. The answer is very simple. If suddenly we see the same boom truck coming into the shop 3 times in one week, then I know someone is not operating the boom properly. At that point I will notify my customer that I would like to keep his operator there for a couple hours and familiarize him with the boom. 9 times out of 10 when we are finished with the repair and the truck leaves our shop, I never see the operator back.
In this scenario, the operator is happy, our customer is happy, and in turn, his customers are happy. So, reading your owners manual is critical to help ensure your boom truck is being operated properly and will have a longer and less costly life.
2. FAMILIARIZATION WITH THE BOOM
I can’t stress enough the importance of having your operators familiarize themselves with operating the boom that you have purchased. Many operators will tell you they have experience on a different make or model boom than you own, that doesn’t mean they understand how your boom operates. An improperly trained operator costs delays, causes damage to the boom and perhaps even an injury to someone. A stitch in time saves nine!
3. PROPER OIL AND FILTER CHANGES
Maintenance, now this is a biggie. During my 30 years of industry experience, I have had the pleasure of being involved in many different industries. And the truth is some industries are better than others at maintaining their boom trucks. Remember the Ferrari I spoke about earlier? Remember how you would take care of that? And after all of that maintenance it earns you $0?
Check this fun fact out! Did you know 90% of all boom truck hydraulic issues are caused by contamination? I have customers show up all the time with boom trucks and when I ask, “when was the last time you replaced your hydraulic filter and oil?”, the usual response is a blank stare. The kind of stare you gave your 3rd grade teacher when she asked you where your homework assignment was at? It’s at that point I already know the answer. Again, read the owners manual. I always tell my customers to change their oil and the oil filters in the fall. Why? Because the colder temperatures are coming, and you want the best oil you can have in the coldest months. If your climate gets hot in the summer like Florida, but is moderate in the winter, then change the oil and filter in the spring when your weather will be the severest. If the oil is thickened up and your filter plugged your machine will stand a better chance of overheating and lead to a hydraulic breakdown. A simple oil and filter change can save thousands on unnecessary repairs.
4. DAILY INSPECTIONS
Every new boom truck we deliver has daily inspection book in the cab of the truck. It has a list of things to look to as a reminder. Fill them out! My father always said if you stand up close to a wall all you see is the 6-inch section of wall directly in front of you, but if you stand back from that same wall across the room you get to see the entire wall. Boom trucks are no different than that wall. If someone operates the same boom truck day in and day out, they may be too close to see a simple problem. If you have more than one truck perhaps have one operator inspect the other operator’s truck. He will be more likely to see something the other walks past.
5. ASK QUESTIONS
When we sell a new boom to a company, we always look at it as the start of a partnership. You’ve chosen us to purchase your boom truck from us for many reasons. Perhaps the one you didn’t think about was the partnership. Use the relationship aspect as much as you can. We’ve all heard the expression “the only stupid question is the one you didn’t ask”. We always want our customers to call and ask questions. I may not have the answer, but I guarantee you someone within our organization will.
You may be an expert at forming foundations, cutting trees, pouring precast, and that’s fantastic! But when it comes to boom trucks, allow us to be your experts because this is what we do. This is something that we pride ourselves on at the highest level.
6. COMMUNICATE EXPECTATIONS
Make sure your operator is aware that this equipment and his or her safety is top priority. If he or she is sent to a site that there is the potential to damage the boom truck or potentially be harmful for the operator, then they have the power to do what it takes to get the site safe for unloading. Tell them how you want those situations handled. At trade shows I often see business owners and their operators chatting about something that broke or some problem that was caused. And majority of the time, situations like these could have been avoided.
Frequently, the owner will find out problems at the show while we are all talking and to the owners surprise the operator didn’t let him or her know that there was even a problem in the first place. It’s only then the owner will say if that happens again….do this, do that, call me etc. So please make sure to communicate expectations.
The moral of this story is simple, Although its way more fun to own a Ferrari, you need your boom truck to perform in order to get your next Ferrari!