Your ability to protect your assets and prolong their useful life is largely dependent on creating a consistent maintenance plan that covers three key areas:
- Properly assess your business needs with machine capabilities
- Anticipate wear and follow recommended maintenance intervals
- Understand today’s maintenance needs
The first step toward a proactive approach to maintenance is assessing how you will use a compact excavator or a loader. For excavators: How deep will you dig and in what ground conditions? For loaders: How much weight will you routinely lift? What will you load into? What size restrictions are on the jobsite?
If your equipment is allocated to jobs it’s not designed to handle, you are more likely to have a machine that may need frequent repairs. It’s important to follow manufacturers’ rated capacity guidelines to purchase the correct size of machine
Next, you need to get familiar with the maintenance sections of your machine’s Operation and Maintenance Manual. Missing a Bobcat manual? Order one here. You’ll find that maintenance intervals commonly start with basic procedures at 8 to 10 hours, followed by most others at 50, 100, 250, 500 and 1,000 hours.
Routine daily service intervals for fluids, lubricants and filters should be followed during normal working conditions and temperatures – as temperatures drop, machine service requirements can change. In cold weather, items that should be adjusted and monitored to meet winter weather include fuel, tire pressure, block heaters, battery, oil, grease and cold-climate comfort features such as heating and defrosting systems.
Tires on skid-steer loaders will usually last around 600 to 800 hours if working on dirt most of the time at proper inflation levels. Rubber tracks on mini excavators and compact track loaders can reach 1,200 to 1,600 hours if they’re operated properly, kept clean and tensioned when required. Tire and track life may be reduced if operating on improved surfaces.
Visual checks of attachment components such as cutting edges, bucket teeth and hoses can help determine if wear is developing or damage has occurred.
Today’s machines are equipped with various levels of emissions-compliant engines that require a general understanding of interim Tier 4 and Tier 4 technologies and their needs. New machines have different lubricant requirements and other components such as high-pressure common-rail fuel injection systems, diesel oxidation catalysts and diesel particulate filters affecting maintenance.
More sophisticated diagnostics systems have been developed to provide faster analysis of service-related items. Many compact machines also have on-board diagnostic storage of critical information.
It’s been said that an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure. So, the more effort you put into evaluating machine capabilities, following recommended maintenance intervals, anticipating wear rates and grasping new maintenance needs up front, the more uptime you’ll experience.
Be proactive with your preventive maintenance and download this checklist for an easy reminder of what to inspect and when.