Nigel Church, Product Trainer with Cutting Edge Training, an operating division of Ransomes Jacobsen, looks at machinery delivery and installation, and says there is more hard work involved in getting the sale, arranging the delivery and completing the installation correctly than you might have thought.
It is that time of year when thoughts start to turn towards annual budgets, maintaining machinery fleets, and hopefully the purchase of new machinery to meet the challenges of 2019. Whilst your decisions on the purchase are difficult, they are only part of the process. There are several elements that the professional machinery dealer or supplier must complete as well, and they are essential if the purchase is to be a success.
Quite often, purchasing machinery involves team discussions and meetings, demonstrations, negotiations and probably yet further meetings, before you can place an order. The delivery of any new piece of equipment should be the culmination of the process, and it should confirm to you, and your team, that you have purchased the right piece of kit, from the right brand, from the right dealer, and from the right salesman!
The supplier, which could be either your local dealer, a distributor, or a manufacturer who deals directly, should have prepared the machine for your use. This may include assembling the machine from a packing crate, or building the machine to the ordered specification, 2- or 4-wheel drive transmission system, different cutting unit options, or accessories like turf groomers and/or grass collection systems. Tractors could have pick-up hitches or auxiliary hydraulic service couplings added, or a front-end loader fitted as part of the build-up. This all takes time and must be scheduled into the workshop to get it completed correctly and on time. That's why it is so important to check the specification of the machine at the time of ordering, so you get what you think you have ordered, not something else.
The pre-delivery inspection (PDI) should check and test the function of the machine and its accessories, ensure that options like PTO shafts are cut to the correct length, and mowing heights set correctly for you. Tyre pressures, weight transfer settings and numerous other settings do need to be checked and set for you. You should be asked about all these details as part of the delivery process, so that the machine is ready to go on delivery, without additional delays.
Left: The manufacturer conducts stringent tests on its machinery, including noise testing. Right: The machinery should be delivered as per specification, including assembly of the machine or vehicle
There should be an appointment made for the delivery, and some time booked with you and the main operators of the machine to run through a structured installation. Delivery is an exciting time, and it needs to be planned into the day, so there is enough time for the supporting machinery installation to take place. Your dealer will tell you how long this process should take, and your key staff will need to be available for the installation.
The installation process (what you should get!)
There is a legal requirement under section 6 of the Health and Safety at Work Act 1974 for all suppliers of machinery to ensure that the customer is given adequate information about the machine. There is also a requirement to do what is "reasonably practicable" to supply equipment that is safe for use.
So, simply supplying you with the machine and the operator's instruction book, whilst giving you access to all the information you are likely to need, is unlikely to meet the above requirement, and therefore some form of installation training must take place.
As a manager or the employer, you also have a duty to provide adequate training for your staff, so receiving good quality machinery installation is the minimum requirement for even experienced staff, when an unfamiliar piece of equipment arrives.
Note: this would be required for any machinery delivery, whether it be new, used, purchased, hired or borrowed, for use at work.
If there isn't a suggestion of a formal installation, or any supporting paperwork to confirm this was indeed completed, you should question this with the dealer or supplier and ensure that the machinery is installed to your satisfaction. If it is not, it could then become your legal responsibility to install the machinery with your own staff. That will take time, effort and detailed product knowledge to complete.
BAGMA (the British Agricultural & Garden Machinery Association) has an HSE approved installation training course for all dealers and machinery suppliers. This approved code of practice shows what should be covered on a machinery installation.
You will also get a copy of the installation form, so you have a record of the training provided to your team, for your internal staff training records.
The installation should be based around the operator's instruction book, and illustrate the key pieces of information in it, which, under the BAGMA system would include the following 20 key points:
- Operator responsibility and risk assessment
- Operators instruction book
- Safe systems of work
- Noise and vibration levels
- Safety guards
- Safety interlocks (OPC systems)
- Safety signs and lights
- Pre-start checks
- Tyre condition and wheel fixings
- Levers and controls
- Safe Stop procedure
- Handbrake and brake operation
- Starting and stopping
- Warning devices
- Lights, reflectors, indicators, mirrors and flashing beacons
- Steering mechanisms
- Procedures on slopes
- Machine adjustments and maintenance
- Operator training information
That's quite a list and, for self-propelled machines, it all needs to be covered. A strimmer wouldn't need tyres or steering, of course, but the noise and vibration values would be important for your risk assessments and staff awareness regarding their personal protection equipment (PPE) and vibration exposure.
So, you should expect your supplier to request at least an hour of your time to fully install the machine with you and, if it's a multiple machinery purchase, then this could take a lot longer to complete.
Driving and operating the machine will not be part of the installation process, as it is unlikely that the installer is qualified to instruct. For that, you will need some additional training with a qualified instructor.
Additional operator training may be required
Installation training is not operator training! Experienced operators, given a good installation, should be able to safely operate a machine which is new to them. However, new or inexperienced operators will need additional training to ensure that they can safely and competently operate a piece of machinery. Operator training courses are available, and you should discuss this with your local dealer.
The bigger manufacturers may be able to offer in-house certified training, and there are also experienced, independent trainers who can deliver certified training for your staff.
You do have a legal requirement to provide adequate training for your staff and, while internal training can be enough, the purchase of new machinery is a great time to get some additional structured training for your team.
Remember to discuss this when placing an order for a new machine. Your supplying dealer may well be able to arrange the training for you. Think of it as an essential accessory for the new machinery you are looking to purchase, and perhaps get it included in the machinery deal.
A marketing opportunity for all parties
Any purchase is an investment in the fleet, the facilities and the club/organisation. It's good news for all, as everyone should get the benefit from it. So, make the most of it by getting some positive news out there!
The typical "grip and grin" photos of new machinery being delivered, showing the machinery and the staff are always a good idea. If there is additional training for the staff, then this should also be highlighted, as it shows staff development, professional standards, and efforts to operate and maintain the new investment correctly.
Local press and the wider trade publications all love a good news story about machinery sales and happy customers, so when the machinery arrives, get the camera out and get some good shots. Remember, your camera phone won't take a good enough image for printing purposes, so get someone with a good quality camera to take some for you. A few words about the machinery, the buying experience and the difference the new machinery will make should do the job for you.
Always remember to thank the supplying dealer and the staff who have made all this happen. There is more hard work involved in getting the sale, arranging the delivery and completing the installation correctly than you might have thought.