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Simple Ways to Avoid the Cost of Component Failures

According to Construction Equipment Lifecycle Research, little more than half—54%—of major-component repairs are done before something fails. The numbers are perplexing given the technologies readily available, such as fluid analysis and condition monitoring. Combine these with regular inspections and you have the information you need to anticipate and avoid most failures.

There’s little argument that failures are costly. Expensive, long-life parts are often damaged when a sacrificial part breaks. Piston rings, liners and valves, for instance, should last as long as two sets of engine main bearings. Clutch plates and discs, a hydraulic pump’s pistons and swash plates, and final-drive shafts and gears are all expensive, reusable parts that can be lost when seals and bearings fail.

So what can you do to keep your machines running longer? Start with these tips for longer component life and lower cost:

Do the recommended maintenance. The simplest and most cost-effective way to keep your machine running longer is to change filters and fluids at the recommended intervals. If you’re working in conditions where contaminants are a problem, invest in better filters and fluids. Those few dollars could save you hundreds.

Perform fluid analysis. Contaminants in oil or other fluids can give you a heads-up to component wear. Lubricants from transmissions, differentials, final drives and hydraulic components can be analyzed and used to indicate life nearly as effectively as engine oil. A general rule of thumb is when two or more contaminants and lube characteristics deteriorate in tandem, trouble is on the way—investigate further.

Review your repair records for similarities between failures. You may find common warning signals or a particular hour range where problems tend to occur. This can help you prevent those same issues.

Use the range of hours in which components fail to establish intervals for inspecting machines. Once you’ve identified a range of hours for particular failures, it just makes sense to schedule more frequent inspections.

Use the technology on your machines. Computer monitoring systems, such as Cat® Link technologies, monitor performance and log system events when the cooling system overheats, an engine or a gear in a transmission runs faster than its rated speed, or other components operate outside of normal specifications. Access your information and talk to your operators about any signs of problems.
Use these tips to adjust your maintenance practices and operator training. Talk to your Cat dealer about   Equipment Management Solutions (EMSolutions). Your machines will last longer and cost less to run.

Learn more about EMSolutions

See how Cat filters protect your components

Source: Construction Equipment, July 01, 2007, Larry Stewart