Working Temperatures of Plant

Working Temperatures of Plant

14 January 2019

As a cold weather snap approaches the UK, the Met Office has advised all people residing in England to take appropriate preparation steps. For those operating on construction sites, January, February, and March are the toughest months of a calendar year as the cold weather could force temporary closures.

There are several variations when dealing with plant in the winter and any part of a machine may cause it to stop working – we have a look at some of these parts and how you can ensure this does not happen on your site.


The optimum temperature generally depends on the type of fuel used, whether it be diesel, petrol, or biodiesel.

Last year, RAC reported road cars breaking down due to “diesel waxing.” This same process can occur in plant and machinery.

Diesel contains wax that forms crystals at the cloud point of fuel. Cloud point refers to the temperature below which diesel forms a cloudy appearance. These crystals grow until the filter plugs and the equipment shuts down.

Standard ambient temperature of plant ranges from -1° C to 52° C. Some companies, however, have developed arctic temperature packages which enables machinery to operate in sub-zero temperatures reaching -40° C.

The use of biodiesel in plant provides an added dimension of difficulty as it generally freezes at higher temperatures than standard diesel. The temperatures at which biodiesel freezes differs depending on the type of oil or fat from which it is made, but varies between 0° C and 17° C.

If you’re operating biodiesel machinery, consult the manual book before adding any type of antifreeze to ensure you’re not causing long-term damage.

Red diesel has a specific winter blend which must be used during the cold season. This is due to the blend being more resistant to cold, with a cold filter plugging point of -12°C. Red diesel is expected to be banned by 2040, and possibly 2030, which could have a major impact on the construction industry as it will need to revert to alternatives.

PAL Hire provides eco-friendly alternatives that are reasonably priced and good for the environment. Speak to our consultants if you require eco-friendly and green products.

Petrol is generally used for generators and, as it has a freezing point of -60°C, is more than likely not going to freeze during the harshest UK winter, unless there is a considerably change in the climate.

Storage Containers

For plant in winter, storage containers can be a metaphorical lifesaver. Storing machine indoors during the cold season helps facilitate the engine ignition and machine warm-up process.

This ensures you spend less time trying to start a cold engine, some of which may require twice as many cold cranking amps, and more time using the machine.

An important thing to remember when placing machines outside is ensuring the battery is well-maintained. The battery can become damaged in the cold and could cause serious injury to labourers if there is a fault when starting.

PAL Hire offers a range of storage solutions from 10ft to 40ft containers delivered throughout the UK. All containers are weatherproof, and quality tested to ensure they can withstand British winters, ensuring there is an ambient temperature inside the container.

Storage containers are generally utilised by Project Managers as an effective method of securing contents that must be left on-site overnight. It would be unrealistic to think plant and tools can be transported to and from site every day, which increases the need for storage containers.

Alongside the containers, PAL Hire can also provide security personnel to increase site security and deter thieves.

Track mats may be required when hiring storage containers for plant. These mats and pads make it easier for rubber tracked vehicles to drive onto the construction site.

Toilets and Welfare

It is not only plant that is capable of freezing in the winter. Last year, PAL Hire received several reports of portable toilets freezing on construction sites. The blue liquid could not withstand the temperatures brought to these shores by the ‘Beast from the East’. We shouldn’t be seeing that type of weather this year and toilets should not freeze this winter.

If you need plant, fuel, or storage containers, contact PAL Hire’s consultants and they will assist you with your enquiry.

The number is 0844 288 7265.

For further information on how winter can affect your site or office, read the articles below: