Extending Equipment Life
Planning for the long term
While lower-than-normal demand and slim profit margins have swayed some operators to keep equipment longer than planned, they run the risk of catastrophic failure if the machine is pushed beyond its limits. The two main concerns are having an equipment failure cause the entire plant to shut down and losing any residual value of iron assets that are not saleable. If a company decides to hold onto equipment, planned, predictive maintenance and component change-outs are recommended.
“Through scheduled maintenance, we’ve gotten as many as four life cycles, or 24,000-plus hours, out of large wheel loaders,” says Mike Monnot, vice president of equipment for Worcester, Pa.-based American Infrastructure. The wheel loaders work for a subsidiary called Independent Construction Materials. He recommends getting expected component lives from the manufacturers, then watching all indicators of wear — oil samples, vibration analysis, wear measurements, and the like. “You come as close to that end of life as you can,” he says.
Through careful planning and proper maintenance, operators who plan to delay capital expenditures can extend the number of hours they get from their mobile equipment. But best practices for equipment maintenance make sense for all operators, not just those looking for longer equipment life.
To keep mobile equipment running smoothly, consider the following guidelines.
- Perform daily maintenance according to manufacturer recommendations;
- Clean windows and mirrors;
- Check front and rear lights;
- Inspect the seat belt;
- Review electronic fluid monitoring and air filter reports;
- Use clean fuel with low sulfur content; and
- Avoid over-servicing the machine.
- Check coolant level;
- Check engine and hydraulic oil levels;
- Drain water from fuel separator/tank;
- Test indicators and gauges;
- Inspect the undercarriage and track adjustment;
- Inspect the boom, stick, and bucket and lubricate linkages;
- Inspect the seat belt; and
- Test the travel alarm.
- Perform regular sampling and oil analysis;
- Check coolant level;
- Inspect linkages;
- Inspect the bucket and its cutting edge; and
- Look for leaks from hoses and cylinders.
- Select the right tire for the application;
- Follow the manufacturer’s air pressure recommendations;
- Check tire pressures at the start of a work shift;
- Train operators on proper procedures;
- Remove hazards from haul roads and workways; and
- Follow the recommended maintenance schedule.