Tractors are an enduring symbol of farming.
But they're more than just symbolic. Tractors are the real engines of most farms, which is why you need to make sure they don't stop working.
And the way to do that is with tractor maintenance checklists.
There are a lot of them, and they all come back to the simple, unavoidable fact that life's easier when you find and fix small issues before they have a chance to develop into big problems.
Think of it this way: you plant a seed, the crop grows, you harvest it. One thing leads to another. With maintenance issues, it's the same, but if you're not careful, you end up with a bumper crop of headaches and heartache.
For example, the cap on your coolant somehow rattles itself loose. Eventually, the engine overheats and seizes. One thing led to another.
But when you have a solid preventive maintenance program packed with checklists, you can catch that loose cap early, saving yourself from all that lost time and added expense.
It depends how often you're doing it. If it's daily, you might mostly focus on simple visual inspections and topping off any fluids. If it's monthly, it starts to make sense to take more time to get a better look under the hood, checking wear points and ensuring all your electrical connections are good.
But it also depends on when you're doing the maintenance. At the end of the season, late in fall, you need to start getting ready for the relative quiet of winter. But if it's just before spring, you have a separate set of inspections and tasks. Here's a simple example: in fall, you likely don't have to worry about looking for nests in the engine bay. But in spring, it's important to make sure you don't have any uninvited guests.
When it comes to tractor maintenance, you need to get a bit Zen and accept that the best way to look after a tractor is to become like a tractor.
It's less mystical and more practical than it first sounds.
Good maintenance is about doing the same things repeatedly, the same ways each time. Just like your tractor can plant seeds at the same depth and distance across acres of fields, you want to do the same maintenance inspections and tasks the same ways and at the same intervals.
And it's checklists that help you ensure your work is consistent and correct. Because it's impossible to remember everything you need to check and do, you need a good maintenance checklist to ensure you're not accidentally skipping anything.
It depends on if it's a daily, monthly, or season checklist. The longer the interval between checks, the longer the checklist.
Once you've decided on the interval, you can start to build out your checklist based on what's in the owner's manual. You can also call your local dealership to see if they have any additional recommendations. Remember, when it comes to insights into what can go wrong with that make and model, the techs at the dealership have a lot more direct experience than whoever wrote the original manual. It's also important to look back at your own maintenance and repair records to get a sense of common, recurring issues.
Just like in the loose cap example, if coolant leaks were a problem in the past for you, make sure to add items to your checklist that help you find and fix them early.
Here's a basic example of a daily tractor maintenance checklist.
Before starting the tractor, check all the fluids, including:
If there are other fluids, check them, too. For example, check the fluids on any attached implements, both powered and unpowered. As part of your fluid checks, look under the tractor and implements for puddles, a clear sign of leaks.
Walk around the tractor, looking at all the tires. Make sure they are:
Make another trip around the entire machine, looking for:
You can also make sure the steps are clear of mud. The last thing you want is to slip and fall when you're out by yourself in a distant field.
Next, open the hood and check the battery. It should be properly secured with clean connections.
Once inside the cab, check that the seat belt is working. Turn on all the lights, get back out of the cab, and walk around one last time, checking that all the lights are working. Then start the engine and watch the gauges.
Creating your checklists is only the first step. From there, you need a safe place to keep them. But safe is not enough; you also need to be able to access them easily. When you're in the barn, having your checklists all typed up on the computer in the farm office isn't much help. But if you have them out there with you on loose sheets of paper, there's a good chance you're going to lose them.
Modern CMMS software for farms and agriculture helps you by putting all your data in the cloud, where it's safe, secure, and accessible, from anywhere and all the time. That means you can access the checklists from any Internet-connected device. Instead of carrying around a binder of loose papers, you have everything on your phone, which you carry around with you anyway. It's the same with all your farm hands. They can access and benefit from the checklists from anywhere they can connect to the Internet.
And a good CMMS is more than just a place to keep data. Using the software, you can build templates packed with checklists that you can add to work orders and PMs. It's all the benefits of checklists minus any of the hassles.
Whenever you want to update or adjust a checklist, you simply make changes to the template. From that point on, every time you generate a new work order, the software carries over all your changes. Everyone is always working from the most up-to-date lists.
Say the word "farming," and the first thing people think about is a tractor. But they're more than just a symbol; tractors are the engines that drive agriculture. Because they're central to your operation, you need to ensure they're running reliably. Maintenance checklists help you keep your tractors in the field and out of the shop. The inspections and tasks on your checklist depend on the interval, season, and your make and model, but in all cases, a good CMMS solution helps you with checklists by making them both accessible from anywhere and easy to update.
Ready to get started with tractor maintenance checklists backed by the power of a modern CMMS?
Hippo's here to help you get the solution that works best for you, including answering your questions about CMMS software, helping you book a live software demo, or even setting you up with a free trial.