Having invested a lot of capital in their wide range of equipment — everything from mini excavators to backhoes — Lynch Landscape & Tree Service, Inc., based in Wayland, Massachusetts, wanted to ensure those machines were running efficiently at all times. But during the busy season, it just wasn’t feasible for their mechanic to keep up with regular greasing and maintenance when he was dealing with so many other issues. After a brainstorming session on how the company could be more proactive — instead of reactive — a machine log system was developed that puts the responsibility in the hands of the employees.
Prior to creating this system, the company was struggling with machines coming into the repair shop because they weren’t working. It turned out that many were just long overdue to be greased. Quentin (“Q”) Nowland, operations manager, says that the dedicated grease sheet that was created for each machine has solved this problem. On the grease sheet, the foreman is responsible for checking off that they’ve greased everything (the fittings, the track, the wheels), as well as what the hours were on the machine. That sheet ultimately gets filed and becomes part of the records that the mechanic can access.
“This system has created accountability for the machine and improved our record keeping,” Nowland says. “It was an overwhelming responsibility for our mechanic to keep up with greasing every machine during busy season. Now it’s just a 10 minute check for each foreman that can easily be done over lunchtime or in the morning. Every foreman does it differently, but they all know it’s their responsibility to fit that greasing and checkup into their schedule.”
Having implemented this new system at the end of last season, Nowland says it’s already obvious that it’s going to save them a lot of money. With the machines being better maintained, there is less downtime on the machines and fewer expensive repairs when a machine breaks down because it hasn’t been greased. But an unexpected benefit is that the added responsibility has instilled a sense of pride within the company’s foremen.
“Giving them this responsibility for their machine gives them a sense of ownership and pride,” Nowland says. “They know this machine is an important part of the company and that their maintenance of it is valuable. Giving them that added responsibility shows our trust in them and in turn we’ve found they feel more dedicated to us.”