Reducing Pest Control Spray Technician Downtime

Posted by Andrew Greess on Aug 8, 2007

You’ve bought the newest truck and the best pest control spray equipment. You’ve hired the best technicians and trained them well. So why do you have so much equipment-related downtime? Despite your best efforts, extended running times, hard use, extreme temperatures, harsh chemicals and misuse are going to cause equipment failures.

Certainly standardizing equipment and a regular preventative maintenance program are critical. To further reduce downtime, many simple repairs can be performed in the field. Field repairs can allow the technician to finish the route before heading to the service site for more thorough repairs.

Here is a partial list of items that can be used to create an Emergency Repair kit for the Power Spray Equipment on your trucks.

Line Strainer – The most common power equipment problems are related to the line strainer (filter), i.e., swollen o-rings and clogged filters. Replacement o-rings and strainer filters are staples for your Emergency Repair Kit. Be sure to select the correct mesh for the filter. Too fine clogs too easily; too coarse allows foreign material into the pump where it can cause damage.

Hose Repair Kit – Some hose problems can be repaired in the field. Create this kit with a knife, brass hose mend fitting, 2 worm gear clamps and a small screwdriver. The knife is used to cut out the bad section of hose. Be sure that the knife blade can be safely stowed. Extra worm gear clamps are useful for a variety of hose problems.

Quick Disconnects – The o-ring in the coupler (female end) swells with prolonged chemical exposure. Swelling will eventually cause a leak. A replacement o-ring and a probe (to remove the old o-ring) will solve this problem.

Garden Hose Washers – Many spray guns and hoses are attached with brass garden hose fittings that require rubber washers. These washers swell when exposed to pesticides. These washers are inexpensive and a few should be kept in your Repair Kit.

Belt – Gas engines often use a belt to turn the pump. Worn, frayed or stretched belts will negatively impact pump performance. Keep a replacement belt on hand; they are easy to install.

Spray Gun O-rings – Many commonly used spray guns (for example, Green GardeJD-9/GES 505, Spraying Systems AA36) have some easily replaced o-rings and tips. When worn or swollen these parts can keep your tech from finishing the job. Keep o-rings and spray tips on your truck to repair leaks and prevent downtime.

Pumps – Some types of pumps have parts that can be easily installed in the field. For example, dampener diaphragms for diaphragm pumps or electric switches for some electric diaphragm pumps.

Access technician skill and training to determine which parts you are comfortable with techs changing in the field. A little tracking can go a long way toward understanding the causes of your breakdowns. Track your equipment failures by part to determine which items you should consider stocking on your trucks. Track equipment failures for each technician to identify training opportunities. Track failures by truck to set equipment preventative maintenance and replacement time frames.

A good preventative maintenance program is your best friend for reducing equipment down time and improving productivity. A few dollars spent on parts for your emergency repair kit can save many times that in productivity, labor and gas.