It takes a thorough and experienced team to ensure that every piece of equipment is safe, reliable and ready to use.
They are Coates Hire’s unsung heroes who work behind the scenes – but their role is pivotal when it comes to ensuring that each piece of equipment and machinery that leaves a Coates Hire branch is safe and up to standard.
Whether that’s an excavator, a hydraulic lighting tower or an electrical tool, a team of 800 plus employees work around the clock to check, maintain, service and repair the equipment that is the backbone of the Coates Hire business. And it’s no small feat, says Peter Davis, National Manager Plant Maintenance & Compliance.
“We’re a plant supply company so customers must have confidence that they can hire equipment from us that won’t break down on their site and result in costly delays,” Davis says.
“Customers also need to be sure that the equipment we hire to them is compliant with regulations, standards and quality. With our mobile powered plant for example, we make sure that all the plant has flashing lights, reverse alarms and reflective tape so it can be seen easily.
“Our maintenance system requires that equipment is checked prior to every hire to ensure it is not damaged, that all the safety systems work and that it operates correctly. We also regularly service equipment according to manufacturers’ instructions – just like taking a car to be serviced.”
The maintenance staff includes mechanics, electricians and trade assistants who regularly undertake internal training programs and who also receive training from manufacturers.
“Recently we purchased trailer mounted vacuum excavators and the manufacturer of that equipment provided training to our mechanics all around the country, for example,” says Davis.
Queensland Coates Hire Service Manager Kelvin Skinner oversees a team of around 200 members working in the equipment repair and maintenance space. He says recently the Brisbane metro team was approached by a major customer for assistance in servicing some items.
“The customer is a major provider on the Morton Bay Rail Project where a rail corridor is being constructed from Petrie to Kippa-Ring on Brisbane’s North side,” he says.
“Normally they would have a service crew maintaining their gear but not in this instance and we were sounded out for support. So six lighting towers, three 150 millimetre pumps and eight Variable Message Sign boards were serviced and repaired during our scheduled routine visits.”
Skinner says that every piece of Coates Hire equipment is checked and tested on return from hire, using relevant documentation. Working to a rigorous checklist or task list quickly identifies any damage or repair work that is required and also directs the employee to safety or service-related bulletins applicable to that piece of equipment. Scheduled servicing is also part of the checking and testing process.
“Once fully checked, serviced, cleaned and complete with operating instructions and hazard and risk assessments, the equipment is ready for hire,” he says.
Davis emphasizes that Coates Hire has a structured and disciplined approach to maintenance and that the company is always striving to improve and enhance this key element of its business. The company is gradually moving towards an electronic delivery of some of its maintenance and service processes.
“We have a database containing all our service tasks. A mechanic will be able to walk up to a machine and scan it with a smartphone or mobile device and they will get a list of applicable service checks on that mobile device,” Davis explains.
“The mechanic will then go through the list of checks, sign off, hit the send button and that will update our service records for that piece of equipment. At the moment we use a paper-based system. This new system will also give customers more access to our service documentation.
“That journey is under way now. We have some teams already using mobile devices and some of our customers are trialing an information portal to give them easier access to documentation such as service records, risk assessments and manufacturer’s operating manuals. That’s what the future looks like for us.