The impact on under-used technologies during the pandemic
Household appliances and technologies are being used more than ever before during this pandemic — but what about more complex machines currently being used less? For some, it’s business as usual; for others, a simple boost can help keep their motors running. And then there are those high-maintenance machines that are just getting cranky.
Over the past year, the COVID-19 pandemic has upended our daily lives in countless ways — both big and small. The collective shifting of our routines has led to surprising consequences, from toilet paper, yeast and seed shortages to explosive demand for appliance service technicians, bicycles and camping gear.
In contrast, some essential parts of our daily lives are now under-used. Office towers are seeing far fewer people working inside, many commercial buildings remain eerily empty, and the daily commute sees far fewer vehicles on roads.
Plus, remember business trips? As the pandemic continues and government-mandated restrictions dramatically limit travel, under-used airplanes grow temperamental and demand different maintenance routines.
LINK takes a closer look at the impact of under-use in four essential areas — and what it means for the machines, equipment and technologies awaiting our return.
With work-from-home policies erasing office commutes, many of us are spending a lot less time in our vehicles driving to and from work. But when cars sit stationary for too long, numerous issues can arise, says Matt Carpenter (Automotive Service Technician ’06), an automotives instructor in SAIT’s School of Transportation.
“Your vehicle’s fluids, tires and battery — sitting for a long time is hard on all those parts,” Carpenter says. Fluids and oils, including engine oil, transmission fluid and coolant, still degrade regardless of whether you drive or not, he says. Regular maintenance — think oil changes — remains important.
Other common issues for inactive cars include seals drying up and causing leaks, the battery losing its charge and needing to be replaced, and tires developing flat spots from sitting too long.
To thwart such happenings, Carpenter recommends driving your vehicle about once a week, even if it’s just for a short trip. “It is worthwhile to do those exercises just to keep things up to snuff,” he says. That’s exactly what he does with his own truck, which he uses for summer camping but keeps parked all winter.
And, Carpenter says, the same complications exist for rental cars and other fleet vehicles now at a standstill. But because there’s more of them, issues are quickly amplified. That’s why, Carpenter says, separate battery chargers have been wired into SAIT’s training fleet of about 60 vehicles — a proactive measure that ensures the car batteries will keep their charge until students are fully able to return to hands-on learning in the School’s automotive bays.