Fluid changes are central to any preventive maintenance (PM) program. Often field service technicians work long hours in the evening or early morning in all weather conditions to ensure the equipment fleet is ready to maximize crew productivity by eliminating downtime. To safely complete their assigned tasks, field service technicians need the proper tools. There really is no excuse for today’s technicians to risk injury by lugging around heavy buckets or jugs of lubricants. Equipping these vital employees with the most efficient tools available can also lead to improved retention.
“Mobile lube systems are at the heart of any proactive PM program,” says Aaron Sage, CEO, Sage Oil Vac. “They will help your service technicians work more efficiently and safely while staying cleaner on the jobsite.”
An effective mobile lube system can make the technicians’ job less labor intensive by eliminating the tedious process of draining used equipment fluids into containers that must be wrestled into the back of a truck or storage container. They can also offer the ability to automatically dispense the correct quantity of fluid versus manually carrying and pouring fluids into funnels. But any mobile lube solution must be tailored to meet the needs of the individual contractor. There is no “one-size-fits-all” solution. That is why leading manufacturers, such as Sage Oil Vac, offer a wide variety of solutions tailored to fit the unique needs of each customer.
CHOOSING THE BEST OPTION
Choosing a mobile solution for a jobsite depends on the application and the site conditions. Important considerations include if you plan to top off fuels or refuel equipment on site, jobsite access, and how much fluid you need to perform PMs.
Lube skids fit the need for contractors who are more concerned about mobility and easy of transport than large fluid capacities. They are designed to fit a wide array of service vehicles including pickups, crane trucks, van bodies, and mechanics trucks.
Lube trailers provide a great choice for frequent on-site oil changes. They provide a lower investment than lube trucks and they can be transported by several different trucks in your fleet. For example, Sage manufactures trailers with tank size and capacities ranging from two 80-gallon tanks to a tri-axle, 21,000 GVWR trailer with oil capacities over 1,000 gallons.
Lube truck bodies are designed to maximize field technician efficiency. They can carry larger volumes of fluid. In addition, lube trucks can be easier for the service technician to navigate around crowded jobsites. There are also many configurations of trucks available. “At Sage, we offer fuel and lube, lube-only, enclosed and open body options on Class 5 to Class 8 bodies,” explains Sage, “Class 5 lube truck bodies are a good option for contractors looking to eliminate the hassle of CDL certification for fleet service technicians, which can help open the pool of available talent.”
Another thing to keep in mind is not all mobile lube systems are the same. For example, Sage offers enclosed systems that are not vented to the to the atmosphere which protects both workers and the environment. It relies on sealed tanks and vacuum technology to reduce spillage on the jobsite and lower the risk of contaminants within fresh fluids. “For years, diaphragm pumps have been the industry standard for mobile lube systems, but they require a constant, high-volume of compressed air,” says Sage. “Vacuum technology, like that found with Sage equipment, eliminates these pumps and the stress of maintaining them.”
REDUCING TECH FATIGUE
Reducing service technician fatigue can be accomplished by organizing the necessary tools and eliminating inefficiencies. This includes easy access to hand tools, wheel chocks, filters, fluid dispensing equipment, and plenty of storage space. For instance, Sage lube truck bodies have built in storage, convenient wheel chock holders, centralized control panels and there are many available accessories that simplify fluid exchanges, including a dipstick tube kit, drain pans, Filter Stingers™, and the NextLube Pro monitor system.
While not recommended for large engines, the dipstick tube kit can prove useful for compact machines where access to service points can be an issue. The service technician simply inserts the tube down the dipstick holder of the engine and vacuums the oil directly from the engine.
Recovering used fluids is also a critical step in the PM process. Properly designed oil drain pans are a great alternative to trying to transport used oil in a 5-gallon bucket for disposal. With some drain pans, the service technician can vacuum the used oil directly out of the oil pan to help reduce the risk of spillage.
Installing quick drain plugs is also another option to consider for avoiding spillage, and the exposure of the technicians to lubricant products is minimized. Quick drain plugs can be connected directly to a hose to create a closed, sealed fluid exchange. Quick drain plugs are direct replacements for the OEM drain plugs, but since they do not have to be removed during oil changes, the chance of cross threading or damaging the oil pan threads is eliminated.
“There are other options that we manufacture that can also help reduce spills and coming in contact with fluids,” says Sage. “We manufacture the Sage Filter Stinger to puncture the oil filter and suction out the used fluid, placing it directly in the used oil tank. And after that is done, the filter can then be placed into the optional Used Filter Receptacle™ to drain what little fluid is left.”
TECHNOLOGY REDUCES ERRORS
Technology is taking the guesswork out of fluid exchanges. For example, the Sage NextLube Pro monitor system allows service technicians to control fluid dispensing, label fluid tanks for better organization, and monitor available fresh fluids through intuitive touchscreen controls.
“It basically takes all of the mechanical valve turning that we have before and brings it to a touch screen for easy operation,” says Sage. “It allows the operator to run everything from the NextLube screen and is an intuitive system that allows operators to choose which fluids they want to dispense. It allows them to see exactly how many gallons they have left in each tank. And then, to keep everything organized, it allows the operator to properly label each tank to prevent cross contamination or mixing of oils.”
Since many technicians will be working before dawn or after twilight, proper lighting impacts safety and productivity. High-powered LED worklights can illuminate the site and should be a consideration when selecting a mobile lube system.
The tools you provide for your service technicians will influence their productivity and safety. Adding a mobile lube system is also a great way to recruit and retain quality service technicians. It makes their job less labor intensive and keeps them cleaner at the end of the day. It also eliminates the necessity of handling open containers of both new and used lubricants.
For More Information:
Content provided by Sage Oil Vac of Amarillo, Texas. Mobile lube systems save time, help reduce expenses, and will help keep your team and equipment productive. Make sure you choose the right one for your needs. For more, visit www.sageoilvac.com or contact a dealer.
Modern Contractor Solutions, June 2022
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