Four Steps to Better MEWP Preventative Maintenance



One of the most expensive and avoidable operating costs in the utility industry is unscheduled downtime due to equipment failure in the field.

Very few machines operate in isolation so, when a machine breaks down, many other machines and people can’t perform their duties until that machine is once again operating. One machine failure can result in a delay to a significant part of your operations.

For this reason, fleet managers and project managers should invest in preventative maintenance.

“Preventive maintenance is regular, routine maintenance based on proven best practices and identified intervals that give you the best chance of catching an issue before it starts,” says Wade Jones, Senior Director of Operations at JLG. “The main focus of this type of maintenance is to prevent equipment issues and downtime.”

1. Daily inspections are your first line of defense

The first step to preventative maintenance is performing your daily inspections of all MEWPs (mobile equipment working platforms ). On MEWPs, there are three main elements of inspection: walk around, pre-start, and function tests.

JLG aerial lift maintenance Walk around the machine and check key components for signs of damage, debris, leakage, or wear. Key components include the chassis, engine compartment, electrical connections, scissor stack, or boom assembly (depending on whether it’s a scissors lift or boom lift). If the machine is equipped with accessories or attachments, check those as well.

The pre-start inspection includes checking all fluids and battery power. Then, ensure the platform gate closes, inspect the lanyard attachment points for damage and the presence of foreign objects, and check the readability of operational and safety instructions posted at the control station. Also, check all safety devices are operating properly.

Once the walk-around and pre-start inspections are completed, check the machine’s functions to ensure normal and safe operation. Perform these tests in an area free of overhead and ground-level obstructions.

“On JLG MEWPs, function tests are performed by the equipment operator from the machine’s ground console, then from the platform control console and with the machine in stowed position — always refer to the machine’s Operations and Safety Manual for specific tests to complete,” says Jones. “For the safe use of JLG MEWPs, machines should not be operated until all of the inspections and functional tests have been performed as specified. By not performing pre-operation to-do’s, equipment owners and operators could easily be overlooking some obvious, or even serious, machine problems.”

2. Perform annual inspections by a trained mechanic

According to the current ANSI/CSA industry standards, which went into effect in June 2020, an annual machine inspection is a maintenance procedure that must be conducted once a year (no later than 13 months from the previous date) on every scissor lift  in an equipment fleet — regardless of brand, make or model.

These inspections include numerous points including:

  • Joysticks, switches, and gauges
  • Emergency stop switches stop all platform movements
  • Extend deck locks at full extension and full retraction
  • All nuts, bolts, shafts, shields, bearings, and locking devices are inspected for proper installation, tightness, excessive wear, cracks, or distortion
  • Arm pins, cylinder pins, bearings, and attaching hardware are secure, undamaged, and free from signs of excessive wear
  • Tires have sufficient tread and are properly installed and inflated
  • Hydraulic components
  • Greasing and lubrication
  • Brakes

Use a checklist to ensure you are checking all components at the appropriate interval. Most manufacturers provide this information in a machine’s operator manual.

3. Time, condition, and usage determines your maintenance schedule

When determining maintenance and replacement schedules, there are three criteria for forming that decision: time, condition, and usage.

How many hours per week do you operate your machines? A lot of manufacturers specify component replacement times and fluid change-out times based on the time used. This is a straightforward and formulaic method for scheduling equipment maintenance. If a machine works 50 hours per week, and a component needs to be changed out every 5000 hours, the component replacement time will be almost two years .

Basing maintenance schedules based on condition requires a lot of detailed documentation regarding any wear or damage to a component. Here, pictures speak a thousand words. A picture (or group of pictures) can more accurately communicate component health than a detailed description.

Usage is another approach that requires determinations about how a machine gets used influences component life. If you run your MEWPs hard—drive a lot, drive in rough terrain, lift and lower the boom frequently, etc., you will need to maintain and replace components more frequently than a machine that experiences less demanding usage.

Machine telematics tools provide more than anecdotal information when it comes to machine usage. It provides a very accurate view of time operated, fuel used, and other machine data, which will help fleet managers determine when to schedule equipment maintenance.

Determining in advance when a component will fail is part of predictive maintenance.

4. Machine data provides insight into future performance

Predictive maintenance uses real-time data from equipment with condition-monitoring technologies to indicate potential issues before they occur,” says Jones. “This proactive, data-driven approach assesses the machine’s performance while it’s operating, which reduces the downtime needed for unplanned replacements or repairs. JLG MEWPs come equipped with interconnected measurements and data collection systems to provide machine data to team members who can analyze it and make determinations about scheduling equipment maintenance.”

MEWPs equipped with telematics and remote diagnostic tools can alert fleet managers to problems or potential problems in the field, so they can deal with the issue sooner and potentially decrease the amount of time a machine is down (and the cost to repair it).

By employing predictive maintenance techniques, you can increase machine uptime by scheduling maintenance events together and at times when the machine isn’t needed.

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