The uncertainties of 2020 have led many oil and gas companies to cut back on (or cut out) capital expenditures, and there’s plenty of scrutiny on operating expenses as well. If your operation is among them, here’s some good news: There are a number of things you can do right now that cost little or no money but can pay off in a big way in the years to come.
1. Stay diligent with maintenance.
When was the last time you took a look at the Operation & Maintenance (O&M) manuals that came with your Cat® engines? That’s where you’ll find everything you need to know about maintenance and service intervals: oil, filter and spark plug changes; oil and coolant sampling; valve lash adjustment and more. (If you’ve misplaced yours, order replacements here.) Performing preventive maintenance on schedule and using recommended products like Cat oil filters and fuel filters is the single best way to extend the life of your engines, lower repair costs and reduce downtime.
2. Follow proper preservation and storage techniques.
If you’ve taken some equipment off the job, don’t just set it and forget it. Properly storing and preserving your engines or electric motors reduces the risk of costly corrosion and component damage and improves start-up performance. These simple tips will help ensure your equipment is ready to go again when market conditions change or new projects get underway. Also, remember to perform a fresh preventive maintenance cycle — all the checks outlined in your O&M manual — before bringing your engines back online.
3. Ask your dealer about open service letters.
Similar to a service bulletin you might get for your car or truck, service letters detail product improvements or fixes — like a software upgrade that prevents a known failure — that are available at no cost to you. Making sure all service letters are up to date before your equipment goes back to work will help you avoid costly unscheduled downtime later.
4. Think about adding a Customer Value Agreement (CVA).
A formal arrangement between you and your dealer, a CVA is a custom combination of services that results in hassle-free ownership, more uptime, lower maintenance costs and a safer work environment for you. A CVA focuses on planned, predictive maintenance to reduce your risk of unplanned failure, gives you access to dedicated dealer resources when you need them and helps ensure your assets are in shape to work productively and efficiently when the upturn comes.
5. Explore remote monitoring.
Subscribing to a remote monitoring system like Cat Remote Fleet Vision lets you keep track of all your equipment — no matter what the brand — via one simple online tool. You can set up alerts when fault codes occur, pinpoint precisely where issues lie (engine or compressor), identify assets working under capacity and keep maintenance on schedule. Remote Fleet Vision also allows you to reduce technician time and travel by only sending techs to the sites where they’re really needed — with the right parts for the job the first time.
6. Consider money-saving, money-making upgrades.
Do your G3600 engines still have their original OCPs (operator control panels)? Now’s a good time to switch them out to the newer, more reliable and less costly HMI (human-machine interface) option. This easy-to-use, color touchscreen display puts engine control and system monitoring at your users’ fingertips — helping reduce maintenance time and costs. Talk to your dealer about scheduling the upgrade during planned downtime.
If you operate a rental fleet, particularly one with older equipment, the timing also may be right to upgrade your horsepower. Many newer rental fleets that have come online recently are operating G3600 A4 engines with additional power capability. Can your fleet compete? If not, consider taking advantage of the opportunity to upgrade while time allows.
2020 is shaping up to be a year like no other, but the silver lining is that it’s giving us all a chance to be proactive for the future. Put one or more of these steps into action now, and you’ll be putting your operation in a good position for 2021 and the years to follow.