Building and civil construction

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If building and civil construction works are to be carried out at a fast rate with low unit cost the presence or usage of a reliable equipment is vital which inherently makes regular maintenance of equipment a prime concern. The purpose of this study was to investigate the equipment maintenance culture adopted by construction firms.

The study was conducted on fifty-five (55) building construction firms in Kumasi. Primary data on the maintenance culture employed by the individual firms were obtained through personnel visit and interviews with some officials whilst secondary data were obtained from maintenance issues covered in journals and the Internet.

The study revealed that most construction firms have a laid down policy for their equipment maintenance but due to maintenance cost, other projects interference, the age of equipment, inadequate spare parts availability and difficulty in recruiting maintenance engineers or expert the policies are hardly adhered to. The survey also revealed that only Preventive or "Day to day" maintenance and Corrective or "Running till it breaks down" maintenance were been implemented whilst Reactive or Corrective, Reliability Centred and Pro-active maintenance types were not in practice because most of them did not have adequate information and techniques on them.

The emphasis on repair depots on site and in the firms yard to undertake minor repairs and general maintenance was recommended as an important factor to ensure equipment maintenance. Recruitment of maintenance engineers or experts on equipment with regular recording of maintenance operation and much effort by management for their equipment were emphasized as ways of reducing the frequency of equipment breakdown.




Reliable equipment is essential if building and civil engineering works are to be carried out at a fast rate of progress, low unit cost and without serious danger to personnel. Systematic maintenance culture or practice is therefore a matter of prime importance, and since both the life and serviceability of the equipment depend to a large extent upon the correct performance of this routine work, effective supervision both in the workshop and on the site is very necessary.

Calvert (1995) defines maintenance as the combination of all technical and associated administrative actions intended to retain an item in or restore it to, a state in which it can perform its required function. Equipment maintenance has to some extent been given little attention by contractors, since they are of view that it's contribution to a project is minimal. The success of most projects depends on the conditioning of the possible equipment to be used for the project. It is essential that before and after the execution of each day's work the overall condition of the equipment with regard to it tyre, oil, filters, axle, battery, etc. should be checked by a skilled staff for any measures to be taken whilst the engine and other sophisticated parts checked or overhauled after completion of project before been taken to another project or company's yard. Relatively, there are many categorises into which maintenance work on equipment could be grouped ranging from planned to unplanned form of maintenance, also is predictable to avoidable form and many more. All these different forms of equipment maintenance practises are left to the discretion of the contractor to

curb down occurrences of equipment breakdown during projects, what then prevents their implementation?

The standard of equipment maintenance achieved can have a tremendous influence on the quality, duration and cost of the project undertaken and consequently equipment maintenance will be a vital part of the construction industry in some years to come.


One problem that construction firms encounter during construction projects is frequent equipment breakdown. During the occurrence of numerous construction projects, most contractors focus on getting work done whilst neglecting maintenance operations to be done on the equipment they are working with. The negligence of a proper maintenance practices by construction firms' for their equipment, often result in the occurrence of frequent equipment breakdown, which have a devastating effect on the total duration and cost.

Most construction firms have given low priorities to good maintenance culture and the setting up of a department which foresees the maintenance of their equipment resulting in frequent equipment breakdowns ranging from pump deficiency, bursting of truck tyres, oil leakages and others. Most often, trucks carrying gravel or chippings are stuck on the roadside whilst pay loaders, excavators, and bulldozers, develop faults causing delays. Such problems are mainly as a result of maintenance neglect accompanied with other accumulative results like rapid deterioration of very sensitive parts.

Problems associated with improper equipment maintenance practices have triggered the need to investigate the maintenance culture adopted by construction firms.

1.2 AIM

The aim of the research is to investigate the equipment maintenance culture adopted by construction firms.


The objectives set for this research are to:

-Identify factors that prevent effective equipment maintenance practices among construction firms;

-Identify some maintenance practices adopted by construction firm for their equipment; and

-Suggest ways of improving the equipment maintenance practices by construction firm.


The study will be based on locally owed construction firms having their offices in the Kumasi metropolis.


The study undertaken has been divided into five chapters, which are outlined below.

1.5.0 Chapter 1- Introduction

This is the first chapter and it entails the introduction to the study, aim of the study, study's objectives and the scope of the study. Furthermore, it contains the problem statement which answers the question of why the need to conduct the study.

1.5.1 Chapter 2- Review of literature

The review of literature carefully examines all relevant information gathered on equipment maintenance. This is done with the construction firm in mind from construction journals, library and Internet.

1.5.2 Chapter 3- Research methodology

Research methodology for this study covers the procedure used to conduct the research. It covers the criteria used in selection of construction firms and administration of questionnaires and general processes used to make the study relevant.

1.5.3 Chapter 4 - Analysis of data and discussion

This chapter shows how the information gathered were evaluated and discussed. It shows how statistical methods, charts and graph were used in assessment.

1.5.4 Chapter 5- Inference and Recommendation

After evaluating and discussion, an inference is drawn from the data gathered which paves way for recommendations or suggestion.




This chapter deals with equipment maintenance as a whole. The literature review set the conceptual framework for analysis, discussion and development of results. This chapter covers the classifications, components types of maintenance advantages and disadvantages, and what others have written on equipment maintenance.

-Definition of maintenance

-Classification of maintenance

-Components of maintenance

-Types of maintenance available

-Factors affecting decision to undertake maintenance

-Maintenance organisation


Maintenance can be defined as the combination of all technical and associated administrative actions intended to retain an item in or restore it to, a state in which it can perform its required function (Berton, 1999). The major aim of any maintenance practice is to prevent the deterioration of the equipment.

Concord (1996), stressed on the purpose for a maintenance practice as:

-Ensuring optimum usage of equipment. In otherwords good maintenance practice ensures lasting of the said equipment;

-Maintaining the suitable appearance as maintenance sets to oversee time-critical repairs;

-It maintains the value of the equipment. As most construction equipments are sold off or rented at a point in time. According to Equipment Maintenance Resource Centre in Australia, equipments that have been under good maintenance practices are 50% to 75% higher rental value compared to those with no maintenance practice of similar characteristics;

-Maintenance practices results in prolongment of main components and materials make-up of the equipment. This is because activities like washing or removing of dirt which enhances tearing and rusting of metal components are undertaken daily after day's work thus preventing them from sticking onto those delicate parts; and

-Sudden breakdown of equipment on site is thereby reduced to the minimum resulting in the success of the project in terms of cost and duration.


Maintenance can be classified variously but there are two broad classifications, which are on the method of approach to carrying it out. These are:

-Planned maintenance; and

-Unplanned maintenance.

Planned maintenance refers to work organised and carried out with a well-laid plan, monitored and recorded which also includes Preventive, Predictive Shutdown and breakdown Maintenance (Milne, 1985).

Methodology for planned maintenance

In undertaking planned maintenance, the following steps are taken:

-Step 1: Evaluate equipment and understand current conditions by preparing equipment ledgers, evaluate standards from manuals, define failure ranks and understand the process meticulously;

-Step 2: Restore deterioration and correct weaknesses by preventing identical or similar major failures. Abolish environment, which causes deterioration;

-Step 3:Build up an information management system that consists of failure database, equipment budget and systems for controlling spares and standby units;

-Step 4: Build a periodic maintenance system by preparing maintenance worksheets, equipment and components periodic maintenance and improve shutdown maintenance;

-Step 5: Build up predictive maintenance system; and

-Step 6: Evaluate the planned maintenance system by using reliability and cost data.

Basic principles of planned maintenance

No matter how huge, small, simple or sophisticated the system is, the same basic elements are common to all though the manner in which they are used and the form they take may differ in each case depending upon the individual circumstances.

a) Initiation of scheme: Most planned maintenance schemes are the result of a decision taken by higher management with the exception of very small-localized arrangements s organized by individuals for their own convenience. Upper management at this stage of the proposals is not expected to formulate the exact details or operational procedures of the system, but at least it must define clearly and positively the framework within which the system must function together with its objectives. Proper and effective scheme may be achieved when the decision have being explained to junior workers with a true management appointing a person to whom this particular task can be delegated.

b) The inventory: It is necessary to have a complete record of the equipment to be maintained, for effective planning and scheduling. Inventory is therefore a list of all facilities all part of a site, building and contents for the purpose of

identification. The inventory in most companies is in the form of a register that holds a list of all their equipment; the required data may be extracted from this

readily available source, thus saving considerable time and trouble. It also presents a workable and a real value because it will be found on data that is present. Compiling the inventory can also provide a better understanding of the individual items and the overall production process.

c) Identification of plant and equipment: After compilation of the inventory, it is essential that every item be positively identified such that there will be no doubt when being referred to. The reasons behind positive identification of items are:

- To prevent mistakes when a particular item is being referred to;

- To locate the where about of the respective items within the site;

- To identify and relate the respective item with their relevant documents and vice versa; and

- To indicate the department, section, group or type of item in order for allocation of cost.

These requirements must be met by codes made up form colours, shapes, pattern, names, letters, numbers or combinations of any them with the choice of combination depending upon the circumstances. Nevertheless there are certain conditions to be observed if it is to prove satisfactory no matter whatever symbols are used. These include:

- Locally designed system;

- The usage of same system coding throughout the company;

- Being able to accommodate changes in equipment without disorganizing the system;

- Unique symbol for each item; and

- Every one should easily understand symbol used, also be capable of reproducing a particular item and all it's documents.

d) Facility or equipment register: The facility register is a record of facilities, including technical details about each of them. Items that are to be included in the maintenance plan should be selected from the inventory and certain vital information of each entered in the facility register. The register records all the essential details about each item so that the i.e. information is readily available as a standard reference to; confirm the original specification, performance, confirm manufacturers recommended limits, fits, tolerances, assist the ordering of correct spare parts and replacement and to prove the necessary information when planning the movement, relocation, access, safe floor loading and layout of plants.

e) The maintenance schedule: It is a comprehensive list of maintenance and its incidence. Maintenance schedule promotes and ensures the establishment of how the equipment whose information on their physical characteristics have been gathered and tabulated within the facility register is to be maintained. For each facility included in the plan a separate maintenance schedule must be compiled which set out al the task of inspection, lubrication, adjustment component replacement overhaul together with the frequencies that are considered necessary to maintain the facility efficiently. The maintenance policy for each facility should take into account its function and the influence over production. With this the facility could be with the other activities like lubrication, adjustment and cleaning being undertaken regularly. For instance the machine tool in the repair depots have no direct or immediate effect on the production process, so one justified to place it on a breakdown maintenance basis with lubrication and adjustment being carried out. On the other hand, the production process depends on say the boiler; its failure in service would halt production and prove very cost in lost output. In which case, preventive maintenance is essential.

f) Maintenance programme: This is a list allocating specific maintenance to a specific period. It is programmed to indicate when each facility shall receive its scheduled maintenance. Maintenance programme is aimed to:

  1. To set out a plan of work to spread the maintenance workload evenly over the year;
  2. To set out a plan of work to ensure that no facility or maintenance task is omitted;
  3. To set out a plan of work to ensure that the required maintenance is carried out at the specified frequency;
  4. To set out a plan of work to co-ordinate the maintenance of associated facilities;
  5. To set out a plan of work to co-ordinate maintenance with production requirements;
  6. To present an overall picture of maintenance work, present and future commitment;
  7. To assist forward planning, ordering of spares, future labour requirements and basis for budgetary control;
  8. To formulate weekly work plans;
  9. To arrange for availability of production work; and
  10. To act as a reminder for future maintenance events.

g) Job report and history card: A job report is a statement recording the work done and the condition of the equipment. The report should include information covering:

  1. Work carried out, correction action taken
  2. Defects observed but not recorded.
  3. Time taken to complete work.
  4. Major components replaced.
  5. General observations and condition of equipment.
  6. Measurement of clearances, wear etc taken based on this a convenient card can be adopted.

The history record is a document on which data about all work done on and or by equipment is recorded.

h) Lubricants and planned lubrication: A lubricant is a gas, liquid, or solid that is used to prevent contact of parts in relevant motion, reducing friction and wear. Other important functions of lubricants are machine cooling, rust prevention, preventing the deposition of solid on close-fittings parts and power transmission. Lubrication is one of the important elements in efficient machine

operation, under whichever increasing scrutiny in today's economic climate. This makes it necessary to maintain equipment so that it operates for the longest possible time without excessive wear or breakdown. Proper lubrication is vital in determining the life expectancy of bearings, gears, chains and other moving parts that make up a machine. Maintenance is directly affected by the operating condition. The cost of maintenance in turn is directly influenced by lubrication. Higher maintenance cost must be expected when the operating conditions impose severe load on the running parts of any machine. It is worth noting that lubricants retard wear, but does not entirely prevent it.

i) Job specification: Job specification is a document describing the work to be done. Once the task necessary for effective maintenance of each facility has been scheduled, the means of communicating the details to the person or persons who will affect work must be considered. Thus the object for a job specification is to ensure that:

  1. The task is carried out in the intended manner;
  2. The possibility of an operation being omitted is reduced;
  3. The tradesmen or operator knows the work and how it is to be done;
  4. Acceptable limits of wear, tolerances etc are clearly defined;
  5. The operation is always carried out in the same manner and the same allowances are always applied;
  6. All persons doing the work, even for the first time, follow the same procedure; and
  7. A reference standard is available with which the job and the work content can be compared to detect any variation.

In summary each job specification should indicate:

  1. The identification number and item's name;
  2. Location of the item;
  3. The job specification reference number;
  4. The maintenance schedule reference number;
  5. The trade or trades required carrying out each operation;
  6. The frequency at which the particular task must be carried out;
  7. The specific detail of work to be done;
  8. Component to be replaced;
  9. Special tools and equipment to be used;
  10. Reference drawing, manuals etc if applicable; and
  11. Safety procedures.

Unplanned maintenance refers to work necessitated by unforeseen breakdown or damages for example filter problem, overheating of engine during work section or activities. It is termed also as unexpected or avoidable maintenance that includes opportunity maintenance, small breakdown maintenance, Daily checkups, lubrication, inspection etc.

Methodology for unplanned maintenance

The following steps are taken when carrying out unplanned maintenance:

-Step 1: Create Motivation and Awareness about abnormalities in equipment & safety;

-Step 2: Clean up of dust and dirt near equipment, discover abnormalities and implement lubrication to machine parts;

-Step 3: Prevent dust and dirt, improve places that are difficult to clean and lubricate;

-Step 4: Prepare tentative standards for clean up, lubrication and machine parts adjustment;

-Step 5: Prepare inspection manuals, Expose and restore equipment defects;

-Step 6: Prepare and implement autonomous maintenance checklists;

-Step 7: Standardize management items, logistics, data records, tool management and process quality assurance; and

-Step 8: Analyse and improve MTBF.

Providing adequate maintenance for equipment has triggered the need for a maintenance program that aims at:

-Eliminating the occurrences of equipment breakdown. Very often a catastrophic breakdown will cause significant peripheral damages to the machine, greatly increasing the cost of repair. Complete elimination of breakdown is not at present possible in practice;

-Be able to anticipate and accurately plan for maintenance needs. This means spare parts inventories can be minimised and overtime work largely eliminated; and

-Increase equipment and Plant production readiness by significantly, reducing the chances of a breakdown during operation and to maintain system operational capacity through reduced down time of critical machines.


The types of maintenance practices available are:

-Preventive Maintenance;

-Predictive Maintenance also referred to as Condition Monitoring;

-Reactive or Corrective Maintenance;

-Reliability Centred Maintenance; and

-Pro-active Maintenance applying a technique called "root cause failure analysis".

2.3.1 Preventive maintenance

It is a planned maintenance policy for plant and equipment that is designed to improve equipment life and avoid any unplanned maintenance activity. Preventive maintenance includes painting, lubricating, cleaning, adjusting and minor component replacement to extend the life of the equipment. A bona fide Preventive maintenance programmes includes a non-destructive testing, periodic inspection, pre-planned maintenance activities and testing and inspection to correct faults.

Its purpose is to minimise breakdowns and excessive depreciation and equipment are not allowed to get to their breaking points. Preventive Maintenance was traditionally based on the concept of BATH TUB CURVE (Fig.1). The curve illustrates the stages that new equipment parts undergo which involve the following:

-An infant mortality stage;

-A fairly long run stage; and

-A wear-out stage.

The Preventive Maintenance concept was to replace these parts before they entered the wear-out phase.


Preventive Maintenance concept focus on cleaning, lubricating and correcting deficiencies found through testing and inspection. When there is a need to adjust or replace components it should be done by highly trained and motivated professionals. Predetermined parts replacement should be minimal and done early where statistical evidence clearly indicates worn-out characteristics.

2.3.2 Predictive maintenance or Condition monitoring

This is a new maintenance technique, which involves checking the efficiency of the equipment and identifying areas where problems could occur in the future. This type of maintenance involves listing future problems, but does not incorporate the measures. Predictive or condition-based maintenance also referred to as condition monitoring, which involves the use of advanced technologies in order to determine equipment condition and potentially predict failure. It includes, but is not limited to technologies such as:

-Vibration measurement;

-Infra-red thermography;

-Oil analysis and tribology;

-Ultrasonics; and

-Motor current analysis.

This new maintenance technique is dependant on the fact that components of equipment give some types of warning before they fail. To sense the symptoms the component parts give requires the performance of several non-destructive tests such as:

-Oil analysis;

-Wear particles analysis;

-Periodic vibration; and

-Measurement of surface temperature by infrared detection.

Weir (2004) identified the outcome of this maintenance technique as:

-Able to determine future failures before they manifest themselves as a breakdown of equipment or a component. Breakdown is defined as the loss of the function a component was designed to accomplish e.g. when a pump stops pumping;

-The outcome is pure information; knowing that an item will break in the future. This in itself does not prevent any failure, but it allows you to: gather information about the equipment and parts affected by the future breakdown;

-Plan and schedule the repair; and

-Eliminate the cost of consequential damages caused by a functional failure. When you repair it before a breakdown develops you typically saves 50% to 90%.

According to Holusha (2004), the benefit of Predictive or condition-based maintenance technique increases component operation life or availability of the equipment whilst reducing expenditure for spare parts and labour. Furthermore, reducing the likelihood of a machine experiencing a catastrophic failure and assures proper alignment and overall integrity of the installed machine when first brought into service. Although Predictive or condition-based maintenance proves to be very good maintenance technique, it increases investment in equipment diagnostic alongside increase investment in staff training.

2.3.3 Reactive or Corrective maintenance

It is often referred to as "run it till it breaks" maintenance. It is defined as maintenance work, which involves the repair or replacement of components that have failed or broken down. For failure modes, which lend themselves to condition monitoring, reactive or corrective maintenance should be the result of a regular inspection, which identifies the failure in time for reactive or corrective maintenance to be planned and scheduled, performed during a routine equipment outage. With reactive or corrective maintenance policy, maintenance action is carried out to restore a defective item to a specified condition whilst test, measurements and adjustment are made to remove or correct a faulty part of equipment.

Even though, it involves less cost and staff, it has an increased cost due to unplanned downtime of equipment, increased labour especially if overtime is needed, high cost of replacement. Furthermore, there is inefficient use of staff resources and large material inventory for repair parts (Davis, 2000). Maintenance effectiveness is judged on the life cycle cost of critical equipment machinery, equipment and systems not on how fast a broken machine can be returned to service.

An effective corrective maintenance must have;

  1. Skilled and capable supervisors and engineers with good knowledge of the machines they are working with in addition to good maintenance instruments.
  2. Good equipment, tool, lifting facilities and testing equipment.
  3. Sufficient spare parts supply.
  4. Good organization and office work (Crowl, 1990).

2.3.4 Reliability centred maintenance

It is the latest maintenance technique that involves continuous improvement of maintenance programs in the most cost effective terms and in a technically feasible manner. Reliability centred maintenance focuses on listing past failures and maintenance history and emphasis the functional importance of system components.

Reliability centred maintenance recognises the fact that not all equipment on site are of equal importance, operate equally, and undergoes failure equally; in otherwords the equipment on site are different and need different forms of attention. Reliability centred maintenance has a lower cost by minimising the frequency of overhauls, reduce sudden equipment failure increase component reliability and able to focus maintenance activities on critical components. Even though a very good maintenance practice it short falls are that it can have a significant start-up cost, equipment training etc. Also it's inability for management to see its savings potential readily (Crain, 2000).

2.3.5 Pro-active maintenance

Pro-active maintenance can be defined as an extension of Predictive maintenance to include the determination of the reasons that machines breakdown. With this maintenance type, investigation is done into which machine components are responsible for the problem and to find the cause of the detected machine fault in order for correction to be done. Pro-active maintenance ensures that there is the elimination of the occurrence of the same problem later.

2.3.6 Other common forms of equipment maintenance in practice.

Aside the above equipment maintenance types, other forms of maintenance used are outlined below.

Running Maintenance: This form of maintenance is carried out on the equipment when it is in operation. It involves checking for leakages, wear, poor operational conditions and lack of lubricant.

Routine Maintenance: This is daily maintenance carried out by the operator of equipment before the start of the day's work. It involves the checking of oil level, tightening of bolts etc. Generally, it involves the daily preparation of equipment before the day's work.

Shutdown Maintenance: Work carried out only when the equipment is taken out of service.

Breakdown Maintenance: It comprises of maintenance work done after a failure but for which advanced provisions has been made in the form of spare, materials, labour and equipment.

Emergence Maintenance: Work necessitated by unforeseen breakdowns or damages (Davis, 2000).


Maintenance comprises of a variety of activities, which Harper (1968) categorised into three components namely; Servicing Rectification and Replacement.

2.3.1 Servicing

Servicing is essentially a clearing operation done at regular interval of varying frequency and is sometime termed as a day-to-day maintenance. Daily washing of equipment, changing of oil, checking of tyre and diesel content etc. are examples of servicing activities. Servicing becomes necessary as a result of constant use of equipment, due to dusty condition of the environment etc.

2.3.2 Rectification

Rectification work occurs within the life span of the equipment. It occurs or arises from shortcomings in assembling or installation or unsuitability of component parts. Rectification shows a crucial point to reduce the costs of maintenance since it could be avoided.

Rectification could thus be reduced to its minimum by the development and use of performance specification and codes of installation.

2.3.3 Replacement

Replacement tends to be the last option left after the above two options are exhausted. This is done when materials or components of equipment are exposed to the weather and excessive filth or dirt in areas like the filters, engine, tubes etc.


Hardly do firms put in much effort into their equipment maintenance, but it is necessary if there should be optimisation of the equipment. Staplen (1994), identified some reasons which has contributed to low maintenance, among them are:

a) Cost. Most contractors forgo maintenance operations mainly due to the overall cost involved in it especially the predictive or condition monitoring type, which involves sophisticated equipment or tools alongside expertise to undertake. Also with corrective type, where the overall cost of purchasing and installing the faulty or damage components is extremely high or almost equivalent to the cost in purchasing new equipment it deters contractor from undertaking maintenance.

b) Available of physical resources: The presence or scarcity of physical resources affects the decisions of contractors in that, when suitable components or spare parts for maintenance are not present, it becomes difficult to under take maintenance. Also even in the availability of the various components or spare parts it should be in adequate quantities. Finally, the availability of skilled craftsmen and their quantum can affect the decision to carry out maintenance.

c) Urgency of work. It affects decision in carrying out maintenance in that contractors now would consider whether the particular fault could have a devastating effect on the overall project. Equipment vital to the project would therefore be handled extremely careful in terms of maintenance but those with no vital stake on the rest of the project would be taken to the yard for a later period for servicing.

d) Interference with activities. Maintenance of equipment in most cases is not undertaken when it is found to interfere with activities on the project. For instance, overhaul of engine for the excavator cannot be undertaken since the equipment will be used for work or it has been hired.

e) Condition of equipment: A duration reaches in the life of equipment whereby the return gained in maintaining an equipment is minimal or and during such period equipment are therefore hardly maintained (Frimpong, 2004).

Not withstanding all these factors it is worthy, and there must be the will and sense of responsibility towards maintenance.


No matter the firm's size, efficient organisation of the equipment or plant department should be of prime importance. There should be co-ordination between the equipment department, site management and the operators for effective equipment maintenance.

2.6.1 Repair depot

It is the normal practice of contractors, who possess sufficient equipment, to maintain their own yard for storing equipment that are not in use, and to employ an equipment engineer and mechanics for minor repairs and general maintenance. The manufacturers or specialist firms may carry out heavy repairs and major overhauls, but the basic requirements of a depot include the following:

a) Workshop facilities may begin with the minimum of covered accommodation and a concrete floor, with provision for heating and lighting, particularly for night working. Equipment such as benches, hand tools, lifting tackle, welding gear and small power tools may progress to include air compressor, battery charger, lathe, drill etc., as the depot grows.

b) Spare parts must be readily available in order to reduce site delays, and a good service might provide complete assemblies as a service exchange. The size of the store and the variety of quick wearing parts is decided by experience and from repairs records, but standardization of machines can help to decrease the range required.

c) Records of maintenance operations on equipment are important. Traditionally, a wall chart and more recently a computer database, showing the location of the equipment on the various sites and their state of serviceability should be checked daily.

The promotion of better relationship between the equipment or Plant department and the contract must be the continual aim of general management.

2.6.2 Site servicing

The first stage of maintenance consists of regular attention by the operator to such tasks as cleaning, oiling and greasing, tightening, loose nuts and bolts, etc. Daily routine checks must be made of water, oil, fuel, lights, tyres and brakes for (vehicles), whilst weekly servicing instructions can be incorporated with the driver's log book to ensure complete coverage. Breakdown will, however, occur on even on the best organized site, and the operator may be able to carry out immediate repairs, but if this is not possible the services of a full time mechanic or mobile fitters are required. In addition to making minor repairs and adjustments the fitter should also inspect the plant to see that is being properly carried out, and his selection and training is therefore most important.

2.6.3 Preventive maintenance

Regular inspection by a competent mechanic is the next stage, to ensure that equipment are kept in good working order and thus reduce the number of breakdowns. These checks should preferably take place outside working hours e.g. weekends; otherwise the plant will need to be withdrawn at agreed intervals for this purpose.

Check lists should be prepared, listing the items to be inspected or adjusted for particular frequencies of mileage or running hours. A good preventive maintenance programme usually involves:

  1. Cleaning;
  2. Lubrication;
  3. Quality control; and
  4. Correction of faults and errors.

2.6.4 Planned maintenance

A maintenance inspection may reveal the need for a future major repair, or a periodic overhaul in a workshop may be due when the equipment will be completely stripped down and any worn parts replaced. Planning should be made for such major repair so that the minimum production time is lost, and the anticipated replacement parts are in stock. The various department of the firm should incorporate themselves to proper maintenance practice as it has a high possibility of interrupting the success of the firm (Calvert, 1995).




This chapter looked at the approach to the study. It outlined the procedures taken to select the sample size for data collection, the sampling technique used, population definition, design and development of questionnaire.


The approach to the study consisted of:

- Preliminary study/survey;

- Data collection;

- Design and development of structured questionnaires;

- Sampling involving population definition, sampling technique, sample size determination;

- Field survey by the administration of questionnaires alongside interviews; and

- Data Analysis based on results of field survey.

3.1.1 Preliminary survey

A survey was conducted prior to the collection of field data to some building construction firms in the Kumasi Metropolis.

3.1.2 Data collection

The data collected for the research were of primary and secondary sources. The primary data was obtained through personal interviews with officials of the building

construction firms about the maintenance culture adopted. The secondary data was also acquired by the review of relevant literature available. The sources of the literature were from both published and unpublished works covered in books, reports, journals and the Internet.

3.1.3 Design and development of standard questionnaire

In achieving the aim of the study, questionnaires were designed in line with the project objectives as a means of collecting field data. Some of the questions were in the form of simple YES or NO choices while others were made in multiple choices for the ease of answering and as much as possible, open-ended questions were made available so that building construction firms can give personal reasons for their actions.

3.1.4 Structure of questionnaire

The questionnaires to the construction firms were based on the causes, effects of the poor maintenance practices and also the procedure they are taking to address maintenance problems.


The population is made up of D1 and D2 building construction firms found in the Kumasi metropolis as in Table 1. As a way of obtaining relevant information, the emphasis will be on firms currently carrying out construction projects.


For the sample size determination the formula method that developed in 1965 by Kish was used. With this formula the equation:

n = n1 ­/ (1+n1/N) where,

n = required sample size

N = total population size

N = 85 + 10 = 95

n1 = S? / V? where

V = standard error of sampling distribution

V = 0.05

S = maximum standard deviation in the population

S? = P (I-P)

P = Proportion of element that belong to the defined class.

P = 0.5

S? = 0.5(1-0.5)

S? = 0.5(0.5)

S? = 0.25, therefore S = 0.5

n1 = S? / V?

n1 = 0.5? / 0.05?,

n1 = 100

Therefore, N = 100 / (1+100/95)

N = 48.72

From research data available, topic concerning equipment maintenance had a non-responsive rate of 12% (Adjei, 2002).

Using a non-responsive rate of 12%.

12 x48.72 = 5.85


5.85 + 48.72 = 54.57 ~ 55.

The sample size to be used 55.

3.2.2 Distribution of sample

The sample size will be distributed using the proportional stratified technique as follows:

n1 = n2 = n

N1 N2 N


n1 = Required sample size for D1

n2 = Required sample size for D2

n = Total sample size

N1 = Population of D1

N2 = Population of D2

N = Total population

Required sample size for D1 = n1 = 55

10 95

n1 = 55x10


n1 = 5.79

n1 = 6

Required sample size for D1 = n1 = 55

10 95

n1 = 55x10


n1 = 49.2

n1 = 49

Therefore, 6 of D1 contractors were selected whilst the remaining 49 were selected from contractors of D2 criteria.




This chapter critically examined the answers that were given by individual construction firms in relation to the project been undertaken. Questionnaires were administered to the selected building construction firms in the Kumasi Metropolis.

Officials who answered the questionnaires were mostly contacted in their offices whilst others were met at their project sites. Officials who had time gave me the opportunity for personal discussion on maintenance issues in the firm.


After collection of the data, 49 questionnaires were answered out of the total 55 distributed representing a total of 88%. Some officials misplaced their questionnaires whilst others were not willing to answer. But not withstanding all these constraints, the results obtained are shown in Table 3.

TABLE : Shows the response rate of the questionnaires administered.


Questionnaires issued out

Questionnaires received

Percentage responsive

Officials / Site engineers





From the above table a non-responsive rate of 12% was obtained.

The analysis was based on the objectives that were established in chapter 1, whilst percentage ranking and graphical presentation will be used to aid the analysis.

4.2 Objectives 1: Identify the causes of poor equipment maintenance practices among construction firms.

From the survey conducted most firms established the fact that they have a laid down or planned maintenance policy for their equipment. In question 1, forty-two (42) of the construction firms confirmed the existence of a planned maintenance policy whilst only seven (7) did not have any planned maintenance policy.

This is represented in Fig. 2 below.

Having been convinced of the existence of such policy Qu. 2: If yes, do your equipment undergo maintenance as laid down in your policy, revealed that, the existence of such policies does not automatically mean it is done as of the firms ticked 24.5% yes, whilst 75.5% do not undergo the policy laid down.

Most construction firms fail to adhere to the laid down policies due to a number of reasons, which were outlined in Qu. 3. From the contractors:

  1. Much capital is needed for equipment maintenance throughout it stages. Some spare parts at some times had to be imported which involves a lot of capital. Even though maintenance is important it is withheld most of the time to undertake construction activities.
  2. Some construction firms fail to undertake maintenance on their equipment because the time for such operations interferes with on-going projects. Most firms stress on the completion of projects than ensuring the maintenance of their equipment, which they consider as a secondary activity.
  3. Maintenance of construction equipment needs the "touch" of experts or skilled mechanics. On the contrary, most firms rely on the operators of the equipment to undertake maintenance. Some of the firms contacted were grateful to Shell Ghana limited whom they allies themselves to for maintenance operation at regular period.
  4. The availability of suitable spare parts on the market posses a problem for them. In cases where the required parts are not available they tend to ignore the maintenance operation planned for the equipment.
  5. Equipment condition i.e. the age factor on few occasion prevent the undertaking of maintenance for construction equipment. Some of the equipment used by the construction firms are out-moded, thus the zeal to undertake maintenance on such aged equipment significantly reduced.

The causes given by the individual firms vary, whilst some ticked four (4), others ticked two (2), others ticked one (1) as the main causes of their failure to undertake maintenance. The total ticked was counted and the one with the highest number ranked as the major cause. This is tabulated in Table 3 below.

TABLE 4. Tabulated results of hindrances to planned maintenance>





Cost involved in maintenance




Spare parts availability




Condition of equipment (age factor)




Other projects interference




Difficulty in getting expects




4.3 Objectives 2: Identify some maintenance practices adopted by construction firm for their equipment.

From the survey conducted it was revealed that the construction firms implement maintenance types that are basically of two types namely:

-Preventive or "Day to day" maintenance; and

-Corrective or "Running till it breaks down maintenance.

It was also established that the following maintenance types; Reactive or Corrective, Reliability Centred m and Pro-active maintenance were not in practice because most of them did not have adequate information on them.

One activity that was similar among the construction firms was the frequency of equipment breakdown as in Qu. 4: How often do you experience equipment breakdown on site? The data gathered testified to the fact that equipment breakdown could not be totally eliminated. Thirty-four (34) representing 69.4% of the construction firms do not experience frequent equipment breakdown whilst 26.5% of the respondent often experience equipment breakdown. Due to the ineffective or poor maintenance for equipment two (2) construction firms representing 4.1% very often experience equipment breakdown mostly during projects.

Having a central stage in the practices adopted by construction firms is the personal responsible for equipment maintenance. From the data collected, 49% had a senior mechanic who ensures that maintenance of equipment are undertaken in accordance to the laid down policy of the firm. 18.4% of the total employ or place the maintenance of equipment in the hands of the operator. In such situations, the operator tries his best to ensure the thorough maintenance of the equipment. Other firms shift the maintenance of equipment to the site engineer, who ensures that all equipment are properly maintained. This was 24.4% of the total, whilst 8.2% consider the bureaucratic pattern where the equipment or plant engineer takes that responsibility.

In ensuring that the planned maintenance conforms to the laid down policy of the firm, regular recording of maintenance activities for the equipment is crucial. From the analysis, 69.4% of the firms contacted affirmed their constant recordings whilst 30.6% did not keep those activities.

Servicing which is a vital component of equipment maintenance was daily by all the contacted construction firms but at different period. Those who undertake servicing before day's work were 35 that represented 71.4 % of the total respondents whilst 14 showing 28.6% respondents undertook servicing after day's work with none carry out servicing during day's break shown in Fig. 6.

Repair depot also possesses an important criterion which construction firms maintain their equipments. From the data revealed, 79.6% of the firms contacted have a repair depot either on the project's site or the firm's yard for general maintenance and minor repairs. Furthermore, 59% of the repair depot is sited at the firm's yard whilst 23 % had theirs at both places preventing the need for equipment transfer from the site to firm's yard for maintenance and minor repairs. 69.3% of the repair depot does not possess the requisite facilities for effective maintenance operation whilst according to

the data revealed 20.7% had all the necessary facilities. Figure 7 shows the possible venues of the repair depot by the construction firms contacted, whilst Figure 8 shown underneath represent the facilities in the repair depots.

4.4 Objectives 3: Suggest ways of improving the poor equipment maintenance practices by construction firm.

As a way improving the poor equipment maintenance practices, officials were to give possible suggestions. From the survey, the possible ways of ensuring effective equipment maintenance given by the firms were counted. This was tabulated in Table 4 below.

TABLE 5. Tabulated results of ways to improve the poor equipment maintenance by construction firm





Repair depot at project site




Recording of maintenance operations




Employing expert on equipment




High consideration by management




The suggestions raised were explained as follows:

  1. Repair depots play an important role in equipment maintenance as well as the whole project as it is responsible for minor repairs and for general maintenance. Information gathered from the construction firms indicated that in ensuring good or proper equipment practices the repair depot should be sited both at the firm's yard and project site. These venues should be provided

with the requisite facilities to maintain and ensure minor repairs of construction equipment;

  1. In ensuring that laid down maintenance policy of the firm is adhered to there should be regular recording of maintenance operation down on equipments. This would enable the personnel in charge of maintenance have knowledge about the parts which cause problem or develop faults often in order to effect change. This helps to prevent unforeseen breakdown on site, which have devastating effects.
  2. The recruitment of experts who will ensure effective maintenance is undertaken as planned. This is because the experts would be equipped and abreast with up to date information on new maintenance techniques that would ensure the overall objective of the maintenance process are achieved.

IV. Finally, management of construction firms should endeavour to make maintenance of their equipment a priority. This could be in the form of organising seminars, forum etc. for workers, equipment operator, engineers and others to uplift their knowledge in equipment maintenance.


This chapter focus on the data received from the construction firms on the way they ensure their equipment maintenance. By the usage of charts, tables and graphs, the data collected was critically examined and discussed for conclusion to be drawn in the next chapter.




After the analysis of the data, the following inferences were drawn from the survey:

i. Most construction firms in Kumasi have a systematic or a planned maintenance policy for their equipment.

ii. The maintenance types in practice are mainly Preventive and Corrective maintenance whilst Predictive, Reliability Centred, and Proactive maintenance types are not in practice.

iii. In Kumasi, which is the area under study, advanced techniques like Oil analysis, wear particles analysis, periodic vibration and measurement of surface temperature by infrared detection used in identifying the possible faults in equipment are currently not in practice;

iv. Even though, most construction firms have maintenance policy for their equipment, this policy is hardly adhered to.

v. Cost involved in maintaining equipment is the main hindrance to proper equipment maintenance, followed by the interferences of other projects. Difficulty in getting maintenance engineers or expects on equipment and lastly condition of equipment were among the factors that prevent adherence to the maintenance policy laid down by the firms.

vi. Equipment breakdown on site in inevitable but can be greatly minimize.

vii. Senior mechanics play an important role in ensuring equipment maintenance.

viii. Most construction firms keep records of the equipment maintenances but the recordings are done for budgetary reasons i.e. the expenses made on the equipment.

ix. Repair depots are crucial in achieving proper equipment maintenance and most of the firms contacted have repair depots sited either on their project site, firm's yard or both places.

x. Whilst repair depots on project sites were strongly suggested by officials, management of construction firms was required to put in much effort in equipment maintenance as a way of improving the situation. Recruitment of maintenance engineers or expects on equipments and recording of maintenance operations on equipment in order to identify faulty parts for replacement were also suggested.


After studying and analysing the inferences the recommendations made are as follows:

-Utilisation of maintenance types such Proactive, Predictive (condition monitoring) and Reliability Centred maintenance to maximise equipment performance;

-Maintenance engineers or experts should be recruited or employed for equipment maintenance operations;

-There should be coordination of information about the equipment from all departments of the organisation in order to ascertain whether the equipment can undertake an activity;

-Spare Parts Management and an organized maintenance storeroom is one of the key processes, which support effective maintenance;

-Equipment inspection should be done on regularly, whilst the recording of maintenance operations done on equipment should be scrutinized in order to established parts that should be replaced or amended; and

-Finally, firms should organise maintenance training courses, seminars, forums etc for their workers in order for them to know the importance of maintaining equipment properly.


Further research on equipment maintenance should find how hiring companies carry out maintenance operations on their equipment.


Calvert, R. E. (1995), Introduction to Building Management,

6th Rev.ed. Butterworth-Heinemann Ltd, Oxford

Berton, G.J and Coles, D.C.H (1999), Construction Management in Practice, 3rd ed. HarperCollins Publishers Ltd, London

DiGiuseppe, Pat (2004), 'Maintenance standard at Weyerhaeuser company', Maintenance world research series, volume1, number 1, viewed 13 December, 2004, www.maintenance

Crain, L. S. (2000) 'Reliability Engineering', Affiliated East-West Press Private Limited, New Delhi

Concord, Belke J. (1998), Maintenance Practise in Construction Industry: The Plant Maintenance Resource Centre: Prentice Hall Inc. New Jersey

Davis, John S. (2000), Condition Monitoring in the 21st Century: Investigated by AUSTRALIA EPA & OSHA: Plant Maintenance Resource Centre, Australia

Holusha, John (2004), 'Techniques in Maintenance': Investigated by AUSTRALIA EPA & OSHA: Plant Maintenance Resource Centre, Australia

Staplen, P.T. and Suzuki, Tokutaro (1994), 'Total Productive Maintenance in the Process Industry', 2nd ed. Butterworth-Heinemann Ltd, Oxford

Weir, Bryan (2004), 'Maintenance Management Handbook', 1st ed. Gulf Publishing Company. Texas

Milne, W.B. and Blakes, J.D. (1985),'Introduction to Equipment Maintenance ', 4th ed. McGraw Hill, NY

Harper, Y.C (1968), Contemporary Maintenance, 2nd ed. Published By Macmillan, UK

Crowl, D.A, and Louvar, J.F (1990). Construction Safety: Fundamentals with Application: New Jersey: Prentice Hall Inc.


TABLE 6: shows the results of the questionnaires.



Number of Response

Percentage (%)


Do you have a systematic or planned maintenance policy for your equipment?

o Yes

o No






If yes, do your equipment undergo maintenance as laid down in your policy?

o Yes

o No






What causes equipment from undergoing the planned maintenance policy laid down, Please tick as many as applicable

o Cost involved

o Spare parts availability

o Equipment condition (age factor)

o Other projects interferences

o Difficulty in getting experts