Letting a machine sit and idle may seem like a good idea but it can end up costing you in many ways. Everything from wasted fuel to resale value is affected. Machine owners and operators need to take a proactive approach to idling. If the machine isn’t producing, shut it down.

Non-Productive Hours Negatively Affect Your Machinery

Equipment monitoring systems, such as Komatsu’s KOMTRAX, provide valuable information on machine functions, including hours, fuel consumption, machine location, trouble warnings and more. All items are important, but there’s often one element that’s overlooked and it just may be the most important one of all.

Studies show that a rather large percentage of a machine’s working hours are spent idling rather than actually working. According to Komatsu sources, the industry average is about 37 percent time of idling. The logic is that if 37 percent is the average, there must be machines out there idling well above that, perhaps in the range of 50 percent. Shutting the machine down when not in production would reduce idle time and provide many benefits.

The Impact of Excessive Idling

Here’s the deal. Imagine you plan to own a machine for five years, operate the machine 2,000 engine hours per year and employ the same operator. Data collected from the machine’s onboard information system shows this machine burns an average of one gallon of fuel per hour while idling.


If the operator cuts idle time in half to 25 percent by shutting the engine down during lunch and breaks, over a five-year period you will:
- Save 500 engine hours.
- Save between 5 and 10 percent on routine services.
- Improve the machine’s resale or trade-in value based on 7,500 hours, not 10,000 hours.
- Require five fewer standard 500-hour services.
- Extend the warranty based on fewer engine hours.
- Save at least $9,625 in fuel savings (this figure does not include probable fuel costs over the next five years.)

Now imagine that you have three, five, 10, 50 machines…

Benefits: Shutting Down vs Idling

1. Fuel Savings
Less fuel burned directly relates to less expense.

2. Lower Operating Costs
Letting a machine idle means, the clock is ticking and you’ll reach service intervals sooner, thereby raising your owning and operating costs. Why accelerate the life and service cycle unnecessarily.

3. Tier 4: KDPF Maintenance
Every hour at idle on a Tier 4 machine takes you closer and closer to the 4,500 hour benchmark for cleaning and servicing the Komatsu Diesel Particulate Filter. Idling for extended periods prevents the KDPF’s passive regeneration system from meeting optimal temperatures for maintaining cleanliness. This could result in additional active regeneration consuming more fuel or additional KDPF cleanings at less than 4,500 hours.

4. Extend Warranty
Piling up all those hours hurts your bottom line from a warranty standpoint. Idle hours count against the warranty clock just as productive hours do. If you’re idling, you’ll reach the end of your extended warranty period sooner.

5. Preserve Resale Value
There will come a time when you’ll be ready to sell or trade your current machine. If you have a five year old machine with 10,000 hours as opposed to 5,000 or 6,000 hours, you’re going to get less for it in the used market place or trade-in value.

6. Reduce Emissions
The less carbon emissions that are emitted into the atmosphere the better. With the engine off, you’ll emit zero emissions and that will make us all breathe a little easier.