Spray equipment breakdowns can wreak havoc on schedules, impact customers and hinder company profitability. Yet, with planning, some downtime can be avoided. Here’s one simple tip: Keep easy-to-replace parts in each truck so minor repairs can be completed in the field. A repair in the field avoids a trip to the repair shop and enables the technician to complete the scheduled stops without customer impact.
All spray equipment wears out, and parts need to be replaced. Buy these parts anyway because you might as well have them when and where you need them. Ideas for parts for your emergency repair kit are:
- Compressed air sprayers. Rubber parts swell or wear out being exposed to pesticides. (Note: Some of the natural, botanical products are even tougher on rubber.)Keep parts such as check valves, lid gaskets, tips and tip O-rings in the kit.
- Backpack sprayers. spray tips, O-rings, filters, lid gaskets and check valves
- Power sprayers.
- Line strainer/filter. The filter is the source of quite a bit of trouble, so this is probably the most important part of your emergency repair kit. Include the filter O-ring andthe steel screen.
- Spray guns. Some commonly used pest control spray guns will leak when O-rings swell. Many of these O-rings are easy to change in the field. Eventually spray tips become clogged or wear out, so keep a replacement in the kit. Some guns are connected to spray hoses with garden hose fittings. The garden hose washers in these fittings are replaced easily.
- Pumps. Some spray pumps use parts that can be replaced in the field easily. Dampner diaphragms are a common source of trouble on pumps. A wrench can be used to gently tighten a leaking gear pump. An extra fuse can get a 12-volt pump or electric hose reel back in service in minutes.
- Engine. Gas engines use a belt to drive the pump. Changing a bad belt is an easy repair to make on your power spray rig.
- Spray hose. Spray hose is dragged across rocks and around building corners and trees. This wear can cause downtime and spills that need to be cleaned up. Create a temporary hose repair kit with a knife, screwdriver, two clamps and hose mender. These parts are available from spray equipment providers. The repair will enable a technician to finish a day’s route and return to the repair location for a permanent repair.
A couple of caveats when creating your emergency repair kit:
- Focus on minor, easy-to-accomplish repairs that don’t require expensive tools.
- Customize the emergency repair kit based on your equipment, technicians and experience.
- Consider technician skill when deciding what types of repairs he can perform. (Note: This falls under the rule, “Don’t send your ducks to eagle school.”) Be sure to train technicians when providing them with repair kits.
- Make sure technicians report what repairs they’ve made. When conducting truck inspections, check repair kits to see what parts are used. Track repairs to find problem areas. Modify repair kits based on what you find.
A few dollars expended and a few moments spent training technicians to make field repairs will pay dividends well in excess of the costs. Your customers will benefit as will your bottom line.