As temperatures drop, snow and ice fall blanket the ground, and days become shorter, taking the proper steps to winterize your foundation drilling equipment can require numerous preventative measures and precautions. Making winter storm preparations should begin well before the season’s change, and preparation is the key to a successful drilling project in wintry conditions.
Not only do the low temperatures create issues for crews, but they can also cause mechanical issues for equipment, impact the site conditions, and even create unexpected downtime that can lead to costly delays. Regular weather conditions can be easier to predict and forecast. Still, when dangerous winter storms present themselves, there can often be little warning and transportation issues for crews and equipment.
Preventative Maintenance in Winter Storm Preparations
This is one of the best ways to ensure the proper operation of your CZM foundation drilling rig in even the coldest conditions. By continually inspecting and maintaining your equipment according to manufacturer recommendations, you can keep all mechanical systems in top shape leading into the winter months.
If your technician discovers signs of wear or tear on gaskets, fuel lines, or other systems, it’s best practice to resolve these issues before freezing temperatures exacerbate the problem and cause critical malfunction or complete breakdown.
Another aspect of preventative maintenance is ensuring that all warming systems for rig cabs are functioning correctly to ensure operator safety. As the temperatures drop, crews will face challenging conditions, and being able to rely on their heavy construction equipment during deep foundation jobs will let them focus on keeping the project on track.
You will also want to equip your foundation drilling rigs with ice scrapers, extra fuel, and oil in the event that an unexpected winter storm creates a situation where obtaining frozen condition equipment can be difficult.
Regular Fluid Checks
During the winter months, you may want to increase the frequency of your fluid checks and levels to make sure that proper fuel and oil levels are constantly maintained and avoid frozen fuel systems. When emergency winter conditions are approaching, it can be challenging to get service technicians to a job site, so staying prepared and monitoring fluid levels constantly gives you the peace of mind you deserve in even the harshest winter conditions.
This can include windshield washer fluid that can handle temperatures as low as -40° to keep those mechanical systems from freezing over, which can cause cracks and fractures that will lead to catastrophic failure or malfunction.
Lower temperatures can cause fluids to be consumed at a greater rate, and depending on your job’s scope, the variable costs of fuel can create an unexpected expense that may impact your bottom line. While fuel costs are always a variable, it’s essential to attempt to forecast these fluctuations in advance to avoid unexpected expenditures that will negatively impact your project.
Depending on your region and site-specific conditions, you may need to construct a heated structure for storing fluids, fuels, and oils to avoid freezing, as this can impact their performance even if they’ve been completely thawed. This includes 30% PHPA polymers and other liquid drilling fluids.
Naturally, drilling projects in frozen conditions will require different auger heads to bore through the frozen earth, and if an unexpected winter storm is approaching, you should verify that all equipment and attachments are suited for the job at hand. Another consideration is the icy conditions that are associated with winter storms and how they can negatively impact your site conditions.
This can require salting transportation avenues for crews, including walkways, stairs, and vehicular access points.
If your equipment is going into winter storage, it’s imperative to remove fluids that can freeze and clog essential lines that will cause extensive damage when warmer weather arrives. First, fuels should be stabilized before draining by the addition of a chemical additive. The engines should be run to thoroughly enter every part of the fuel system and then turn off the equipment.
Drain the fuel into an approved container and restart the engine. Allow the engine to run until it turns off, at which point you can ensure that all fuel has left the system, and your equipment is ready for winter storage.
While it does not directly impact your equipment, ensuring the safety of your crew while operating is also of the utmost importance, proper PPE should be maintained, and crews should follow safety protocols in extreme winter conditions.
Assistance with Winter Storm Preparations
When you work with a trusted local vendor like RPI Equipment, you can rest assured your equipment is ready for even the harshest winter and icy storm conditions. Our dedicated team of experienced service technicians can help winterize your equipment for storage or perform a thorough inspection of all mechanical systems to identify points of potential breakdowns and repair these to keep your project on schedule and in budget.
With over 50 years of experience in the New Jersey area and surrounding regions, our team can help you identify the right winter equipment and winter storm preparations.