Brandon Dickinson Parts Manager, Oliver Manufacturing

No matter where you’re located in the world, we all know that agriculture is cyclical. Depending on your region and the seed species being handled, there are times of peak production when all parties within a facility are running at full capacity. That time is now for companies handling corn and soybeans in the Midwest.

During these times when you’re running full speed, it’s critical to be in tune with your equipment. Keep an eye on the mechanics of the equipment. If you start to notice any changes in the operation of the machine, shut it down and do a little troubleshooting.

While you may hate to lose production time, taking a few minutes to do this can save you lots of time and maintenance expenses down the road. For instance, something might need oiled or greased or a quick realignment might be needed. If you don’t take the time to stop and take care of these simple maintenance pieces, the consequences could be worse.

The main thing to keep your eyes on is the bearings and shafts. There are lots of moving parts, but these affect performance of the whole machine. Be sure to regularly grease and oil these parts to prevent overheating or binding. If you start to get some binding, that results in grinding of the shaft, creating a bigger problem.

For parts that receive a lot of wear during peak production, we recommend companies keep spares on their shelves to minimize downtime. While some companies keep a stock of the main parts on their shelves, others will order a part and have it shipped overnight. There are different urgencies with everything. By planning ahead and keeping a few high-wear parts on your shelves during peak season, you can prevent urgencies from becoming emergencies.

As the link between customers and our shop, everyone’s perspective is different in terms of what is bad, regarding the magnitude on a monetary level for the time a machine isn’t in operation. It might only be a $200 part that you need, but it could cost a company thousands of dollars for every minute the machine is down. Plan ahead, take care of your equipment and it will take care of you.