Equipment Management

Purpose

To ensure the availability of well-maintained essential vehicles and equipment to accomplish research projects within a cost effective and efficient system.

Definitions

Unless otherwise specified the term "equipment" will refer to vehicles, tractors, combines, etc. and major farm implements.  The term "unit" will refer to all self-contained research entities such as Research and Education Centers, Institutes, and individual specialized programs such as the beef unit, agronomy, etc.

Equipment Manager: Resident directors and farm managers will designate the equipment manager and the units that they represent. For example, there will be one equipment manager responsible for all machinery for the animal units and possibly others. This will ensure continuity between all units.

An equipment manager will be designated for the entire system for the purpose of providing all types of information to the unit managers to help them evaluate their options and make better decisions.  No equipment purchases would be made without input from the system manager but it is still the unit manager's decision. As with all budget decisions, any discrepancy in recommendations will be resolved by this office.  Each unit should designate a person responsible for repairs, maintenance and inventory records to provide to the system manager. None of these would be new positions but assignments made to current employees. This approach would help the transfer and sharing of equipment between units.

Acquisition

Equipment can be obtained through purchases with research funds, purchases with grant or other externally developed funds, or through transfers of surplus property. In all cases, equipment placed at a REC, Institute, or other research unit will be entered into that unit's general inventory and be subject to this proposed Equipment Management System. The systems manager should develop and implement an equipment records system that could be accessed and utilized by all units. A web-based system that lists equipment resources available for use by other units with a scheduling component and the conditions under which the equipment services can be accessed would be most desirable. This person could also work on discussions with equipment companies concerning lease arrangements to effectively evaluate this option.

Planning an Acquisition

Individuals who are contemplating an acquisition will develop a description of their needs including type of equipment needed, work requirements (what it will be used for), period of use (when and for how long), and availability and source of funds (what is already available and what must be obtained) and submit a request to the unit director.  The unit director will consult with the system equipment manager and determine if there is equipment available to meet the need.  If so, the availability will be relayed to the requestor and the equipment will be reserved for that project (as requested).

If adequate equipment is not available within the system, the director will determine if there are sufficient funds within the unit either from internal funds, research grants or a combination. This will require communication and cooperation between the unit manager and the researchers utilizing that unit's research resources. If sufficient funds are not available, the researcher will be advised that the proposed project will need to include funds for an acquisition or attempt to locate the equipment through federal and state surplus programs. No purchases will be made without discussions and recommendations with the system manager to obtain all the necessary information. 

Entering Newly Acquired Equipment into the System

When a new piece of equipment is purchased it will be delivered to the unit equipment records person for inclusion in the inventory. A maintenance and use log will be prepared and a service schedule will be initiated. This information will be entered in the system-wide records program and provided to the system manager. Copies of keys for equipment and any locked areas on the equipment will be kept in the unit equipment manager's facility.

When a piece of equipment is located through a surplus program it must be thoroughly inspected and a detailed condition sheet must be prepared PRIOR TO acceptance of the item. The detailed condition sheet will be developed and supplied to the unit by the system manager. Any deficiencies that require attention must be noted and an account number and agreement must be provided to the system manager to assure that the equipment will be brought up to standards PRIOR TO use and inclusion in the inventory. 

Maintenance, Use, and Safety

All equipment placed in a unit's inventory must be maintained in a serviceable, presentable and safe condition. The unit equipment person bears the responsibility for this. Damage due to misuse or abuse will be repaired at the expense of the project for which the equipment was being used. Proper paint and decals will be maintained on all vehicles and motorized equipment. All equipment must meet OSHA standards set forth by the manufacturer.  Smaller pieces of equipment and farm implements will be kept clean, serviceable, and presentable when not in use. The system manager should do regular inspections at each unit in conjunction with the unit equipment person to ensure that these conditions are met. 

Records

The unit equipment person will maintain a file for each piece of equipment that requires routine maintenance or service. All service activity and use will be recorded. Each piece of equipment will be given a service unit number.  A service schedule will be kept in all vehicles and a "next service due" notice will be placed in all vehicles and on all other equipment. All users will be required to comply with the service schedule and it is their responsibility to return the equipment to the unit equipment person for scheduled service. All of these records will be available to the system manager for review. 

Use Agreements

All persons using inventoried equipment will complete a use agreement, developed by the system manager, that will specify the period of time needed, the project for which it will be used and an account number to bear any costs associated with the use.

Fees will be returned to the equipment account for routine service costs and for equipment replacement.  Some specialized and heavy equipment may require use of an assigned operator with appropriate fees. Only persons who have been authorized by the equipment manager will operator equipment that is not provided with an operator. This authorization may require formal training or completion of a certification course. 

Fee Schedules

Each unit's equipment manager will develop a fee schedule for equipment and operators. The schedule will be reviewed and approved by the unit director prior to its use. The schedule will reflect routine and scheduled maintenance, replacement costs, insurance costs, operator training costs, and an hourly rate for operators, when appropriate. Persons placing equipment into the unit's equipment inventory will provide the unit equipment person with replacement cost information and will review the fee schedule prior to the equipment's use.

Training and Certification

A standardized Operator Certification will be required for all persons operating tractors and other specified equipment. Additional specialized certification and training may be required for operators at a given site or for specific pieces of equipment. The equipment person from each unit will maintain a list of certified operators. 

Disposal

The unit equipment person will make a periodic evaluation of all equipment (no less than annually) to determine its condition. Equipment will be removed from service if it is deemed to be unsafe or in need of repairs costing more than the item is worth. Unsafe equipment will be repaired if possible and returned to service or permanently removed from the inventory. All items removed from service that are beyond repair will be marked for surplus, disposal, or sale by auction. Auctions, surplus removal, and disposal of designated items will be conducted no less often than annually. Items awaiting removal will be assembled in a designated area in an orderly and neat manner. Large equipment items such as tractors and vehicles should be carefully monitored and rotated out of service while they still retain a market value, if possible. The system manager will work with each unit to help with this function.

Each unit should have a capital reserve account for machinery replacement. This could be accomplished by devoting a predetermined percent of the revenues from the sale of commodities to an equipment repair and replacement account at the unit. This office will ensure that that funds can be carried over without restrictions to provide for designated equipment purchases. 

Local Use Policies

Each unit can, at the discretion of the unit director, implement additional local use policies to serve in addition to this general policy.  Local use policies may include specialized safety needs, training requirements, storage systems, record keeping etc. The system manager should be very helpful with these systems.