Keep Artics in Tip-Top Shape
These enhancements have allowed double the number of hours before it becomes necessary to change the most critical operational fluids. Changing engine oil, in some cases, has been increased from 250 to 500 hours; transmission and hydraulic fluids from 1,000 to 2,000 hours; and the same for brake cooling systems — from a 1,000- to 2,000-hour change interval. It actually can be less expensive to operate a Tier 4-compliant hauler than it is to run a Tier 3 model.
Manufacturers have also redesigned articulated haulers to provide more convenient access to most service points, making them easily accessible from ground level or from non-slip platforms.
Today’s daily service routine
The daily routine maintenance checklist for the majority of newer articulated hauler models now consists primarily of a pre-operational early morning engine oil check, followed by a walk-around. Visual walkaround inspection includes looking for loose, broken, or bent parts, wires, and cables; oil and transmission fluid leaks; tire damage; and other potential abnormalities. From there, the remainder of the daily inspection is completed from the comfort of the cab.
After the walkaround in a Volvo loader, for example, the operator climbs up in the cab, engages the master disconnect, turns the key to position one, and computers handle the rest. Indicators light up, and the computers report the status of all primary operating functions. Once everything checks out, the operator turns the ignition key to start and he’s ready to work.
In addition to the daily visual hauler inspections and computer-monitored, pre-start check routine, operators should inspect cab intake air filters on a weekly basis. This can be accomplished by removing the outside cover and completing a visual inspection of the filter contained inside. In more humid climates, the filter will likely remain clear of dust and residue for several months; while in more arid, dusty environments, the filter will likely need to be changed frequently. Then, at 250 hours of operation, the operator will need to complete greasing.
Old habits die hard
While service enhancements are being enthusiastically embraced by owners and operators, there has also been some degree of hesitation among old-school operators who have long been practitioners of a much more involved daily maintenance ritual.
To those I say, sure, it’s fine; go ahead and grease every day, but also think about the amount of money you’re spending on grease and the time you’re wasting that’s not necessary. No one knows better than me that old habits sometimes die hard.
But for owners of newer-model articulated haulers, the sooner they adapt, the better off they’ll be.
A final word of caution
Despite the incorporation of many enhancements that have helped streamline the service ritual for most newer-model articulated haulers, owners and operators of mixed-manufacturer fleets need to fully understand the capabilities of the electronic monitoring systems of each model. Even with the newer models, not all manufacturers have the same level of computerized monitoring capabilities. Some manual pre-operational safety checks may still need to be completed on models not equipped with certain computerized monitoring systems.
Operators should consult the operator manual or service departments of dealers to ensure they are fulfilling the service and maintenance points required for specific models.
Richard Iddins is product manager with Volvo Construction Equipment.
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