The Cost of Idle Time

October 13, 2016

In a tough industry with notoriously thin profit margins, controlling heavy equipment idle times can mean the difference between success and stagnation. The most successful contractors and construction crews are those that have proven adept at leveraging technology and equipment management to reduce operating expenses across the board. Equipment idling can represent a large portion of this — if you’re serious about running a leaner, more profitable business, maximizing uptime should be your first goal. Here’s why.

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Running the Numbers

According to a recent Caterpillar® infographic, idling can represent as much as 50% of total vehicle run time — not only does this mean your crew isn’t working, but it also means you’re actively burning a gallon or more of fuel per hour. These costs add up. Based on an average diesel fuel cost of $3.90/gallon, for a machine that runs 2000 hours a year:

• 20% idling time represents 400 nonproductive hours a year, for an annual cost of $1,560 and a five-year cumulative total of $7,800.

• 30% idling time represents 600 nonproductive hours a year, for an annual cost of $2,340 and a five-year cumulative total of $11,700.

• 40% idling time represents 800 nonproductive hours a year, for an annual cost of $3,120 and a five-year cumulative total of $15,600.

And that’s just per machine. If you run a large fleet that is frequently idle, these costs can easily make a significant dent in your profitability.

Hidden Dangers of Idle Time

Excessive, unnecessary fuel consumption is only one of the ways idle time costs your organization money. When a key asset is left running for no good reason:

• Powertrain components have a shorter operational life and are more  prone to breakdowns.

• Lubrication, fluids and filters must be replaced more often.

• Your equipment warranty expires faster.

• Your equipment loses resale value.

Clearly, there are a number of reasons why keeping nonproductive equipment hours to a minimum should be a priority.

Limiting Idle Hours

Idle time is accumulated in incremental measurements. Keeping it to a minimum requires proactive action over the course of each shift:

• Don’t leave equipment running during break time or when otherwise not needed.

• Limit equipment warmup time to no more than five minutes.

• At the end of a shift, older engines require no more than two minutes of cool down, while newer machines require almost none.

• If it’s going to take more than five minutes to unload an idling truck, shut it down.

• Enable automatic engine shutoff features

Sophisticated Cat® equipment management solutions can help you track and manage idle time in several ways. From improved scheduling that makes equipment available when and where you need it, to operator training on best practices for maximizing productivity, we can connect you with the information and tools you need to get the most out of your key assets. To learn more about how Cat EMSolutions help solve the problem of idle time, get in touch with a Fabick Cat representative today.


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