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By Megan Wild
March 12, 2018
Compact excavators might sound small and unimposing, but they offer enhanced and user-friendly performance features — and that makes them increasingly versatile in a variety of applications.
As a project manager, this is most likely one of your more relied upon pieces of equipment. When it comes to shifting dirt, there’s only one machine for it. But excavator downtime is especially detrimental for your project, your clients and your bottom line — so any breakdowns in equipment should to be avoided and planned against.
This coming year is looking extremely busy for the construction industry. Given the recent devastating hurricane season, where the U.S. suffered more than $200 billion in damages, excavators will be in high demand. It is critical that your machinery is kept in a state of good repair through careful and considered maintenance.
The following tips should help ensure your excavator remains functioning at an optimum level.
1. Plan a Maintenance Strategy
Unplanned maintenance leads to unplanned downtime and extra costs. The Virginia Cooperative Extension found that through maintenance, equipment repair costs could be reduced by up to 25 percent. While this is taken from an agricultural context, the concept relates closely to a construction and contracting environment — maintenance is paramount. GPS tracking technology could be a solution for improving maintenance management, as it can electronically monitor engine run time, eliminate idling and lower maintenance-related expenses.
More sophisticated machine monitoring can come in the form of telematics, which lets you gather and analyze even more data, even more granularly. With the increasingly widespread use of telematics in the construction industry, machine maintenance strategy can be better planned for in near real time.
2. Conduct Regular Fluid Level and Filter Inspections
Fluids such as engine oils, hydraulic fluid, grease and coolant all need to be checked according to a planned schedule. Furthermore, certain steps should be taken to make sure all members of your team are using the correct lubricants, at correct temperatures and at the correct intervals.
3. Be Vigilant About Undercarriage Inspections
Marketing Manager for Doosan, Aaron Kleingartner, stresses the importance of undercarriage maintenance in tracked heavy equipment and asserts that, “If operators neglect to clean the undercarriage and are working in a colder climate, the mud, dirt and debris will freeze.” Once that material freezes, it can start to rub on the bolts, loosen the guiding and seize up the rollers, leading to potential wear later on. Cleaning the undercarriage helps prevent unnecessary downtime.”
Specific attention should be focused on bolts, guiding and rollers. Excessive and uneven wear should be identified at the earliest opportunity and damaged or absent components within the undercarriage should be rectified immediately.
Along with cleanliness and inspection, basic principles should be adhered to, such as making wider turns, reducing time spent on slopes, avoiding harsher environments, minimizing any spinning and selecting the right shoe width.
4. Prepare Attachments in Advance
Attachments are particularly useful and therefore need their own dedicated maintenance. Service teams should be advised to complete visual checks of cylinders, guards and all hydraulic hoses on the attachments, as these areas will be more prone to showing damage when it occurs. Furthermore, components which engage the ground, such as buckets, cutting edges or trencher teeth, are also at risk of being bent or broken.
Maintenance of your compact excavator is imperative to keep your balance sheet smooth and your clients satisfied, as unplanned downtime for your machine will lead to lost jobs and profits. Following the above tips should increase the uptime on your machine and help keep things running smoothly.
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