6 Dec 2019

Regular checks help keep your machine running at optimum performance and enhance its residual value

A heavy excavator handles extremely challenging materials. From crushed stone and gravel that grinds against the frame, to fine particles of sand and dust that settle into the components, the elements in which a machine operates are tough.

That’s why it’s important to perform regular checks and maintenance to extend the life of the excavator. A few extra minutes each day will not only help improve the machine’s efficiency and increase productivity, but will also enhance the machines residual value.

Regular checks help keep the machine running at optimum performance.

1. Take care of the undercarriage. Clean out the track & chains daily. Muddy, rocky terrain can be extremely abrasive and will collect around the top & bottom rollers and idler assemblies. Clearing material build-up is important because the accumulated material hardens and accelerates the wear on the entire undercarriage.

Be sure to perform weekly checks for track tension. Look for too much sag, which could potentially damage the tracks, idlers & rollers, therefore rendering the machine immobile. 

2. Clean the bucket regularly. The longer debris remains in a bucket, the tougher it becomes to clean. Daily cleaning prevents the mud from hardening (which then becomes a challenging, time-consuming cleaning job).

In addition, if the bucket is not cleaned regularly, its capacity and that of the overall load will be reduced.

3. Lubricate the front structure. Frequently lubricate & grease the front structure (boom & dipper) and lower linkage by conducting daily service checks to ensure the structure has the required lubrication. This will help limit premature wear and ensure the machine continues to operate at peak performance. Review the machine’s service guidelines for recommended lubrication and grease intervals.

4. Maintain a clean cab. The cab and windows should always be clean to maximise site safety and productivity. Operators need good visibility, and with a lot of fine particles in the air, it can be easy for windows to become coated with dirt & dust, therefore compromising visibility and health & safety.

Make sure all windows are in place, intact and not gouged, cracked, or seriously scratched. This type of damage can compromise a window’s integrity and increase the likelihood of breaking or shattering, leading to unnecessary repairs.

5. Fix damages immediately. Once damage is identified, take action immediately. The longer it takes to address the more wear & tear is created on other components. Repairing damages immediately helps mitigate maintenance costs and reduces downtime in the long term.

Machine Health Check programmes (MHC) can assist in keeping your machine in peak condition.

6. Pay attention to alerts. An excavator’s telematics (JCB LiveLink) are an important tool, which should be utilised to increase the working life of the machine. Should alerts be ignored a key advantage of telematics is lost. Once an alert is identified it must be acted on, merely reading the alert negates the purpose of having this valuable data available.

JCB LiveLink offers a full suite of data reporting (including fleet location, operational functions i.e. idle time, hours, fuel consumption, alerts, and other essential machine data). Telematics keep operators updated on maintenance checkpoints and alert them to any failures or problems that need to be resolved. The JCB Operator App allows operators to complete an easy, efficient daily machine check and sends automatic notifications to fleet owners / managers of any identified faults.

7. Change out filters. The service schedule should indicate how often a machine’s filters should be changed. Follow those guidelines and regularly change filters accordingly. It is typically 500 hours for fuel, engine oil, and air filters, and 1,000 hours for hydraulic tank oil filters. Genuine filters are considered a cost effective method of preventative maintenance and an important part of the machine’s overall health and performance.

8. Refuel your machine. After a shift, refuel the machine. Air in the system or the tank can result in synthetic moisture, which will water down the fuel.

In colder temperatures, keep water out of the fuel filter, so it does not freeze.

When refuelling, top-off the DEF tank. On excavators, the DEF tank is typically wider and shallower than on other machines. If it is not topped off, fluid can swish around the tank creating foam and clogging the system. Check with your local dealer about replacing fast moving service parts; remember it is best practice to always use genuine OEM parts.

9. Check the handrails & steps. Make sure the handrails around the cab and service areas are secure. This is an important safety precaution. If one is found to be loose, make sure it’s tightened as soon as possible and reported as part of the daily operators check.

The steps on the cab and walkways should be secure and non-skid surfaces all intact. If any non-skid material is damaged, worn or missing, have your local dealer repair or replace as a matter of urgency.

10. Inspect safety guards on equipment where present. Inspect screen guards over the windows and cab openings. Be sure they are secure and in good condition. Working with a wide range of materials (such as sharp rocks and large pieces of debris) it is important to keep the guards in top condition.

Be sure fire extinguishers and water tanks are operable and easily accessible. Check the water pressure of the tanks. Ensure the safety of the operator and co-workers at all times.

While these tips may seem extensive, they can be accomplished in minimal time. Ground level inspections should typically take no longer than 10 minutes. Likewise, checking the tracks should also take 5 to 10 minutes. By regularly inspecting a machine, the operator will quickly know what to look for during the daily inspection. This will also make it easier to notice when something is out of place.

Many more in-depth inspections can be done monthly, while some may be needed more often depending on individual operating conditions; when in doubt, always check with your local JCB dealer.

Visit JCB.com to find your local dealer.

Performing basic upkeep and regular inspections, an operator can extend the life of the machine. A clean, efficient machine contributes to a better work environment, enhanced safety, productivity and increases the machines residual value.