The National Construction College has launched a new course to help improve the skills of those undertaking maintenance of plant equipment.
The Track and Undercarriage Inspection course is a one-day programme that aims to provide delegates with an understanding of the importance and cost implications of undercarriage inspection and maintenance, as well as all safety aspects relating to inspections. It also aims to teach delegates how to carry out inspections, identify wear patterns and locate common faults.
The course has been developed NCC plant maintenance instructor and former Finning engineer Lee Mason. He says: “With the recession there’s a need for cost saving. The undercarriage makes up around 20 per cent of the cost of a new tracked vehicle, and 50 per cent of the maintenance costs for that vehicle will be on the undercarriage as well.”
He says the course will better equip those with tracked vehicle fleets to manage their maintenance costs and save money. “Usually, people will run the undercarriage to death before replacing any components. However, through close monitoring and basic maintenance, you can repair worn components before they become too damaged, which is cheaper than replacing them.” Mr Mason estimates that firms could cut their maintenance costs by 30 per cent through better undercarriage inspection and servicing.
He says the course is suitable for anyone with a tracked vehicle fleet, but would be particularly helpful for operators involved in civils and heavy earthmoving because of the high level of tracked vehicles in that sector. “It’s a maintenance tool, not an operating tool. It’s aimed at fitters, foremen and procurement managers. It’s also appropriate for hire firms.”
Extra cost benefits
Mr Mason points out there are other cost benefits as well from better undercarriage maintenance, aside from reduced repair costs. “If the undercarriage is kept in good condition, that will improve fuel economy. It will also improve the quality of the work as it helps the operator to run the vehicle in straight lines,” he says.
The course is to be run at NCC East in Bircham Newton. NCC East senior instructor Colin Bray says: “By the end of the programme, participants will have the skills and knowledge to inspect tracks and undercarriage for wear and damage and assess the correct option available for repair. This will add to the trainees’ skills and in the long run help businesses with cost savings due to more effective maintenance of plant equipment, and improved safety levels.”
Mr Mason believes the course is unique. “I’ve been an instructor for ten years and I haven’t seen anyone offering undercarriage maintenance except as part of a maintenance package. People who don’t take up those packages probably don’t know what kinds of savings they can make.”
While there is no formal qualification from the course, Mr Mason says that it can be counted as one module towards an NVQ in plant maintenance.