With the growing need for commercial lawn care services around the globe, manufacturers of commercial mowers have a crucial need of having their authorized product dealers evenly distributed all over the world. This, however, entails a lot of advance planning. Mower manufacturers have to weigh on the matter especially since establishing such authorized dealerships involves a sizable investment and a lot of legalities.
Due to such circumstances, you’ll find that commercial mower owners in some countries have limited access to the recommended replacement parts for their mowers. For example, recently one of my readers in Africa said that they purchased two powerful commercial mowers for their demanding lawn care needs, one in 2014 and the other in 2017. They however encountered a huge backlash because of the limited access to replacement parts and prolonged shipping time from the product suppliers. Unfortunately, they had to ground their mowers and resort to the common less-effective products that they can afford.
By the time I wrote this article, I had tried to reach out to some of the renowned commercial mower brands and their partners to see if they have plans of addressing this need. As we wait for the reply however, I felt the need to give a helpful guide on how commercial mower owners in places with limited access to replacement parts can maintain their mowers even under such circumstances. Here are six ways that have proven to be effective.
- Insist on one operator
- Give thorough training
- Consistent periodic maintenance
- Be alert to problems and non-scheduled maintenance
- Have substitute spare parts on hand
- Find replacement solutions locally
Insist on One Operator
It’s logically wise to have one mower operator running your mower at a time rather than having several mower operators using it in shifts. This will help in familiarizing your operator with the mower. As time goes on, he or she’ll develop a consistent pattern of using the mower that you can easily track for performance and mechanical behaviors.
With one person assigned to your mower, the possibility of having surprise mechanical issues is reduced. This is because the operator gets to know the mower so well that he or she can easily detect unusual behaviors before they turn into severe mechanical faults.
Therefore, as soon as you purchase your mower assign one person to be solely responsible for its operation and maintenance. Instilling such responsibility can help in reducing potential negligence on the part of the mower operator. As a result, you’ll extend your mower’s longevity.
Give Thorough Training
Providing thorough training to your operator does not only ensure your mower’s safety, but it also helps in familiarizing your operator with basic mechanic skills that can be valuable in case of any downtime. Instructive sessions on how to do several routine tasks like valve clearance adjustment, wheel hub inspection, and routine oil changes can be a good resource especially in places where experienced dealer support isn’t accessible.
My recommendation is that you make sure that your mower operator gets the needed training and in case you intend to operate it yourself, ensure that you also get the same training. Let the dealer whom you purchased the mower from train your team a comprehensive study session on how to perform certain maintenance tasks. Insist that he or she concentrates on giving this training to one person who in the end will pass this knowledge to his team-mates in the form of practical maintenance sessions.
Thorough training also provides a lasting foundation for your operators. Even in circumstances where your operator decides to leave, there will be a pattern of doing things that’ll be passed on to the next operator you hire. With such a definite pattern your mower is most likely to last longer.
Consistent Periodic Maintenance
Like the way you regularly take care of yourself, commercial mowers also need to be taken good care of. This is done through daily and perioding maintenance sessions. Doing this doesn’t only help in keeping your mower in good shape, it also helps in extending the life of moving parts that would easily break because of prolonged use without servicing.
So, promptly follow the manufacturer’s recommended maintenance cycle. These people have tested out several routines for a long time and they have come up with effective procedures for mower maintenance. Why not take advantage of what has already proven to be effective rather than going through the whole testing? So consistently carry out periodic maintenance for your mower.
A typical daily maintenance session would involve doing the following things before taking your mower out for mowing;
- Checking your mower’s engine oil
- Checking your mower’s hydro oil
- Cleaning your mower’s air filters
- Checking under the deck for trapped grass clamps
- Lubricating casters
In addition to doing such tasks on a daily basis, it’s also recommended to use a leaf blower or air compressor to blow off the grass clamps after a grass cutting session. It would also be good to use a damp cloth with clean water and detergent to clean your mower off the dirt it accumulated when mowing. That way, you’ll keep your mower looking new for a long time which ultimately saves you from costly remodeling and painting.
A periodic maintenance session that you would perform after the recommended time in your owner’s manual would include;
- Changing engine oil
- Changing hydro oil
- Adjusting valve clearances
- Sharpening the blades
- Checking the state of your wheel hubs
- Cleaning the exposed parts of your engine
- Tightening loose bolts
- Cleaning the cylinder head
- Inspecting your speed governor
- Check the pressure of your wheels
- Checking the electrical system
With a consistent periodic maintenance routine, you’ll most likely address certain issues that would potentially turn into major mechanical problems tomorrow and the mower’s output will be at par.
Be Alert to Problems/ Non-Scheduled Maintenance
With the limited access to recommended replacement parts, it would be wise to be vigilant and attentive to your mower’s abrupt change in behavior. Even though your mower could be running properly at the time, There might be a major problem that’s causing the unusual behavior. Any notable change in the way your mower sounds could mean that there’s a potential mechanical problem.
Being alert to such problems would involve cultivating the habit of checking areas that aren’t readily visible. For example how often do you remove your mower’s wheels so as to check the condition of your wheel flanges and their woodruff keys? These are common areas that quickly wear out due to constant movement, checking them regularly might help you order for replacements in advance or talk to your equipment operator to see ways of improving on handling.
Just as they say prevention is better than cure, some preventive steps can help in minimizing the possibility of having your mower grounded instead of leaving matters to chance. One preventive measure you would consider including in your routine is regularly checking the drive belts. In most commercial mowers, the belts are under the mower’s engine which released a lot of heat. With the constant heat and movement, belts can develop cracks. Seeing this in advance can help you plan ahead for replacements.
Have Substitute Spare Parts on Hand
In places where there’s no authorized dealers for commercial mowers, it takes a lot of time to have replacement parts at your disposal. Shipping and custome regulations can delay purchases. To minimize these inconveniences, try to order several replacement parts in advance when the mower is still in good shape.
If you can afford, consider having major replacement parts like blades, belts, wheel hubs, push rods and an extra clutch on hand. These parts are usually in action so they tend to wear out faster than others. Having them handy can minimize the associated stress of sourcing them in a limited time frame.
Having substitute spare parts in place can help you reduce your mower’s downtime in case of any unexpected failure. You’ll be having all the repalcements you need on hand. Lawn care business owners might also consider having an extra commercial mower standby for any unexpected incidence.
Have Replacement Solutions Locally
It could be true that the best way to have your mower functioning well and delivering its maximum output is by replacing faulty parts with the manufacturer’s recommended parts but at times, you just can’t help it. For example, the oil filters in your local market might be from a different brand but they work. Why should you go for parts that you’ll go through a heck of sourcing when there are locally sourced items that perform the same function?
There certain parts on most commercial mowers that are a bit universal. These are items that share the same functions with other equipment for example batteries, filters, hydro system belts, blades, and throttle cables. Since there other types of equipment that use the same parts, you might easily find them in the local market and at a good price. All you need finding out whether they match with the manufacturer’s specifications.
Even if there no authorized commercial mower dealers in your area, you can still find a local alternative that can still keep your mower properly maintained and running. So check in your local market for what fits the manufacturer’s specifications – The results might surprise you.
As more companies enter the lawn care market, time will come when there won’t be issues with replacement parts for your commercial mowers but as you wait for that time to come, don’t let certain obstacles stop you from getting a commercial mower that will perfectly address your needs. Follow this advice and you’ll be set to keeping your mower running for a long time.
If you have any need, feel free to leave it in the comments section below or take advantage of the contact tab and I’ll help you out. I’ve been in the lawn cutting business for over 15 years and throughout this, I’ve learned a lot of things that can help fellow mower owners to get the most out of their commercial mowers