7 Tips to Help You Get Longer Life from Machines and Components
The math is pretty simple. You get the greatest return on your equipment investment when you can run a highly productive machine at the lowest possible operating cost. While equipment life is affected by a wide variety of variables, correct machine selection, condition monitoring and effective operating techniques can help you extend equipment life cycles and improve operating efficiency.
- Choose the right machine. Whatever the application, it is important to look at the various tasks that need to be performed and match machines to those jobs. Bigger machines are not always the most cost efficient choices. Depending on your site conditions, you may be able to use a single machine for more than one task without losing production time. The important thing is to make this part of the planning when you estimate the job; don’t just default to the same set of machines out of habit.
- Protect key components. When using work tools, it’s important to review the hydraulic power needs of the tool(s) and make sure that you have selected a machine with the appropriate hydraulic set-up for the demands that will be placed on the system. Ensuring they are well-matched will extend the life of the hydraulic system and the life of the work tool. If you’re using equipment with undercarriage, use guards that protect undercarriage and axles, especially in harsh conditions. Undercarriage can account for a high percentage of equipment operating costs, so extending the life of undercarriage components will reduce overall operating costs.
- Use condition monitoring. Condition monitoring technologies can track maintenance intervals, check fault codes and improve maintenance by reducing guesswork. Based on your projects and applications conditions, you may be able to extend your maintenance intervals or you may need to shorten them; with condition monitoring, you’re alerted when actions are required.
- Follow routine maintenance practices. Daily lubrication is vital to extending the life of working components. Routine maintenance should also include visual inspections of the tires, tracks, tools and any other key structures for damage. Also inspect any time you notice a leak or hear any abnormal sounds or noises.
- Adjust maintenance for extreme conditions. Any time you are working in conditions that are extreme, you should consider adapting your maintenance routine to reduce the impact on your equipment. Extremely dusty applications may require more frequent air filter cleaning and use of pre-cleaners. Attachments and undercarriage deserve the same attention to reduce the impact of extremely hard, abrasive, dense or wet materials. Your checks should include hoses, boom, arm and lift arm cylinders, as well as wear plates, bolted-on cutting edges and attachment mechanisms to make certain they are secure and working correctly. If you run double shifts, equipment may require more frequent maintenance.
- Remember—less is more. Well-trained operators understand a machine’s various power and economy modes and know how to set up a machine to deliver the right amount of power for the task at hand. Operators who are more aggressive on power are likely to be less efficient and put added stress on components—reducing work life. Operators who find the balance of or power and protection of vital components help deliver the lowest operating costs.
- Clear sight lines protect equipment. Modern cab design has made great advances in visibility from the operator seats. In addition, rearview mirrors and rear-mounted cameras assist visibility and provide critical sight lines when operating in reverse. When planning your job, also take line of sight between machines and different working areas. Clear visibility can increase safe operation and extend equipment life.