January 10, 2022

Excavator Maintenance: How to Take Care of Your Excavator

Man performing maintenance on excavator

Properly maintaining your excavator is essential to maximizing the potential of your fleet. A well-kept machine is less likely to break down, which saves you time, money and stress. Plus, proper care will drastically extend the lifespan of your excavator. Keeping up with even just one machine can be difficult since excavators are complicated machines. Many of the parts of an excavator will eventually wear and will need to be replaced, as well.

That is why most people use a maintenance plan to minimize downtime and streamline the entire process. Generally, there are two different methods for regular machine maintenance. Routine maintenance refers to a plan in which the machine is sent in for a maintenance check-up periodically. This includes changing wear parts, such as fluids, filters and belts. Every machine follows a maintenance schedule, which determines what parts need to be replaced and at what time.

Preventive maintenance, on the other hand, involves monitoring the machine very closely to predict and catch potential problems before they arise. Both of these require regular checkups with the machine, but the fundamental difference between them is their philosophy when solving problems. Routine maintenance plans use consistency to avoid breakdowns, but a preventive maintenance program looks to solve the problem before it even happens.

Preventive maintenance certainly has its advantages. When done correctly, it’s an extremely cost-effective method, because it helps machine owners avoid breakdowns or other issues that might delay work. Avoiding breakdowns also helps prevent permanent damage to the excavator and lengthen its lifespan. In order for a preventive maintenance plan to work correctly, however, a lot of care and attention has to be put towards the machines in your fleet. Your operators, mechanics, and other staff will need to be knowledgeable enough about the excavator and observant enough to notice the warning signs before a maintenance issue occurs.

Tips for Creating Your Preventive Maintenance Plan

Create a Schedule (and Stick to It)

Whether the schedule is for once every day or once every year, having a plan for what checks need to be done and when will provide the most effective maintenance plan. Every checklist should have a specific time when it needs to be done. For example, a pre-start checklist should always be done before starting the machine. If you or your workforce are inconsistent, then you will not be able to predict malfunctions.

Know Your Machine

Because preventive maintenance relies on spotting issues before they arise, it’s important to be familiar with the machine you are servicing. Consult the excavator’s manual, and make sure everyone who works with the machine is properly trained with this information.

Pay Close Attention

Excavators are made of innumerable small parts, each of which interact with one another in different ways. Many of these parts have a limited lifespan and will need to be replaced, such as teeth on buckets or filters for fluids. In order to keep your excavator in working condition, you need to be able to find and fix problems before they cause a breakdown. Part of prevention is knowing your machine, but you (and everyone else who works on the machine) will need to keep a close eye on its condition as well.

Document Everything

Proper documentation makes monitoring your excavator’s health much easier. Although the objective of a preventive maintenance plan is to stop breakdowns, they most likely will happen eventually. Recorded information about the excavator’s health can help you figure out the issue faster. Even something as simple as filling out a checklist and filing it away can help you pinpoint when the machine broke down and what could have caused it.

It might sound difficult to keep track of everything to keep your machine in working condition, but EquipmentShare has a solution to streamline the process and save you the headache. With T3 Analytics, you can pull reports about the machine’s health, location, service history and more.

Daily Excavator Maintenance Checklist

Note: This is an example inspection checklist. It’s best to create your own maintenance plan, based on your needs.

Pre-Start Checklist

  • Check that the machine is parked correctly and safe to start.
  • Check for damaged or worn out parts, especially parts that often need to be replaced, like belts, hydraulic lines and hoses.
  • Check the undercarriage for any leaks or loose parts. If the machine is wheeled, check the tires to make sure they are undamaged and properly inflated.
  • Check the cab of the excavator for damaged or broken windows, mirrors, and seat belts.
  • Check all fluid levels, including the fluids for your engine, power steering, and hydraulics.

Start Checklist

  • Start the engine of your machine and allow the engine to idle for 5 to 10 minutes.
  • Listen for any unusual noises.
  • Feel for any odd vibrations or other problems with the suspension system.
  • Check the gauges on the dashboard for anything that needs to be fixed or replaced.
  • Test the excavator’s hydraulic system by moving the arm and boom. Pay attention to odd noises or movements.
  • Test all of the lights on the vehicle, including headlights, backup lights and brake lights.
  • Test that the brakes work properly.

Shutdown Checklist

  • Park the excavator in a safe place and engage the parking brake.
  • Allow the engine to idle for 5 to 10 minutes before turning off completely.
  • Refill the fuel tank.
  • Clean the machine and pick up any trash, if need be.

Ultimately, the key to good preventive maintenance is understanding your machine, and your project. Even with this information, it can be difficult to plan and manage your maintenance schedule. A DVIR (Daily Vehicle Inspection Report) is a document that operators use to report any potential problems. If you’re looking to streamline your preventive maintenance process, check out that and much more with award winning fleet management technology, T3, the Operating System for Construction. Because T3 works on all makes and models, it captures and digests rich machine data on breakdowns, and EquipmentShare’s data scientists use that information to build preventive models. That knowledge is then incorporated into the T3 system and can alert customers if similar symptoms are taking place on an asset – even if it goes unnoticed by the instruments or the operator.

Learn more about how T3 can streamline and simplify your operation’s service workflows.

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