Spring is always a time of renewal, of rebirth, a new start. Lots of fresh, exciting ideas and adventures. Spring cleaning. Spring forward. And it’s a great time to give your fitness spaces some attention. A few upgrades, try out new equipment and new ideas to generate some excitement. To boost everyone’s motivation to workout, to come and enjoy the community’s amenities. And the community itself. Spring brings us out among our neighbors. Plus, with summer approaching, we also want to work on our “beach bods” or just overall healthy living. This time of year encourages us to look for and try new things and just get out and about.
But, setting aside the continued covid conditions (see side article), there are more mundane, but nevertheless important, matters to be attended to. It’s also time for a thorough check up – a preventive maintenance visit – from your service provider.
But why? And why is it more important than exciting, crowd-pleasing opportunities?
First, a working definition of “preventive maintenance”. In the simplest terms, it is work done to maintain a machine in order to prevent malfunctions and breakdowns. Any type of machine. Preventive maintenance can extend the life of a machine. It can reduce downtime and the cost of ownership of equipment.
Steps 1 through 10 — The List Goes On and On
The first step in a Heartline Fitness Preventive Maintenance* service visit is to do a walk through of the space to make sure none of the equipment is visibly broken, has an out of order sign or is somehow out of place. Each piece of equipment will be visually inspected more extensively as it is inspected and worked on. Every piece will get attention during the visit and notes will be taken for the final repost to the customer and made part of the customer’s account, resulting in a historical record of the equipment’s lifespan.
This visual walk-through allows the technician to prioritize machines as needed once he/she begins the work. Otherwise, the machines may be done in any order, though best- practices have each category or group of equipment done together.
So that you can see the depth and breadth of what is involved, here is Heartline’s Procedure for Performing Preventive Maintenance on a Treadmill (which is based on major treadmill manufacturers’ standards for proper upkeep and performance):
- Test operation: Check if the speed and elevation controls are working properly, that the console and various programs respond to commands and that the heart rate monitor and headphone jack work as needed. This step ensures the machine, and all of its components are functioning properly and points the technician to any areas that will need attention during the rest of the checkup.
- Wipe down entire machine from top to bottom. This allows a closer visual inspection of the exterior of the machine to see if anything is loose, missing, damaged or broken. Cleaning the frame also prevents corrosion caused by the buildup of sweat and grime.
- Remove hood and vacuum inside all compartments. This allows the technician to visually inspect the interior components of the machine to see if anything is loose, missing, broken or damaged.
- Lift up each unit and wipe down the lift arm and vacuum the undercarriage and the floor or mat under the treadmill. This prevents dust from building up on the interior of the machine, as well as on the running surface where it can get into the pivot points causing noise during operation and increasing the wear on these parts.
- Clean and vacuum the hood air vents and display console. The air vents will get clogged and over time dust will build up causing the fan to burn out and dust to blow into the users’ face. This also eliminates the buildup of sweat and grime on the heavy touch points on the keypad. These can cause the console’s components to fail.
- Clean running belt and deck contact surface. This extends the life of the running belt. First, if requited by the manufacture, the deck surface must be lubricated. If it is not, the lubrication will fail and increase the wear on the belt and deck prematurely.
- Adjust running belt tension/tracking. Ensuring the running belt is properly centered and tensioned ensures that the machine is safe to use. Safety is key.
- Enter diagnostic mode and record mileage. Recording the usage of the machine helps the client understand which machines are being used most by residents. This data is also paramount to evaluating machines to determine when the lifecycle is ending, repair vs. replacement scenarios and other asset management functions. Without it, the customer, the service technician and the sales rep will not have the necessary information to help in any of these decisions.
- Finally, a re-test of all operations: Re-check the speed, elevation, programs, heart rate monitor and headphone jack. This final step ensures the machine, and all its components are functioning properly.
*Providers will have their own procedures and work-flow, but, if they follow manufacturer standards, they will be very similar to Heartline.
The Results: What Comes Next
If any machine requires more time to diagnose a reported or discovered problem or concern the technician will write that up and schedule a return visit to do further inspection and/or tests to determine the cause of the problem and determine what is needed to complete a repair. Any repairs that can be completed during this time will be, at no extra charge to the customer, except for any needed parts or supplies that the technician has on hand or in the service vehicle.
If it is determined that additional parts must be ordered from the manufacturer to complete a repair, a price quote will be prepared and presented to the customer for review before any further steps are taken. The quote will include prices for each required part and the estimated labor hours needed and the labor rate. Once that quote is approved by the customer and returned to Heartline, parts will be ordered, and a final visit scheduled once the part(s) have been received. After the repair is made, and the unit fully tested, the customer will be invoiced according to standard terms and conditions.
Similar procedures are detailed for all cardio equipment: Ellipticals, Arc Trainers, AMTs, Upright Bikes, Recumbent Bikes, Spin Bikes, Steppers/StepMills, Rowers and even TVs and other entertainment systems. Every piece of Strength/Weight equipment is run through 10 points of maintenance as well.
Is it Important? And Why Wouldn’t I ?
Here are the top reasons why regularly scheduled preventive maintenance is so important:
- It reduces downtime and user/resident complaints.
- It is more cost-effective and predictable than a series of “break-fix” expenses.
- A lack of regular maintenance could void your warranty, causing costs to keep your equipment running smoothly to skyrocket.
- And it’s cheaper than you probably expect.
Often cited reasons some choose not to get PM service contracts:
MISTAKE #1: MY WARRANTY COVERS IT ALL. This course of action is misguided at best and, at worst, a big hit to your budget just a year or two (or 3) from your purchase date. Regular maintenance services are the responsibility of the owner and are not covered by your warranty. Even though maintenance is required by the manufacturer as a term of your warranty, if you skip skip it, it could void your warranty making you responsible for any and all repairs..
MISTAKE #2: CHEAPER TO PAY AS YOU GO. Some think it will be cheaper to wait for something to break or act up and fix it then than the cost of monthly/quarterly charges for the preventive maintenance visits. They further rationalize that “if nothing is wrong with the machines when the tech comes out on a PM, I’ll be paying for nothing on that visit.”
We call that the “Break-Fix” rationale. But it doesn’t hold up to the actual costs involved.
Note: Signing a contract for preventive maintenance* gives you a price reduction over unscheduled visits. As an incentive to sign up, you pay less than if you did it “pay as you go” instead. Plus, your pay-out is predictable, every month or every quarter; you can budget for this expense, for multiple years out if your provider will provide out0year pricing. While your service provider takes a hit on revenue, their costs and revenue are also predicable making it worth their while as well. (*Heartline PM contracts are not prepaid; they are billed as performed.)