As a longtime Komatsu dealer and partner, we encourage our customers to take advantage of this industry-leading heavy machinery manufacturer’s experience through its best practices.
Your fleet is the lifeline of your business. Proper maintenance is essential to keeping your costs low and getting the best return on your investment. Here are six simple best practices for managing your fleet to maximize productivity.
Don’t wait for your machine to break down. Perform routine maintenance and fix anything that needs adjustment. This approach will help minimize operating costs, improve uptime and boost the resale value of your equipment. One easy way to stay even more proactive is to register machines in a preventive maintenance program that notifies you when it’s time for your next inspection.
Whatever route you take, always document all maintenance and repairs, so you’ll have complete records when it’s time to sell your equipment.
The old adage is that 80% of all maintenance costs are spent on 20% of machine problems. The same issues continue to drain resources. To break this habit, identify repeat problems and take action to fix them before they grow, which can be expensive.
KOMTRAX is Komatsu’s machine monitoring technology that comes standard with all models. This system collects and processes data about your equipment’s health and efficiency, alerting you if any irregularities occur, so you can have them repaired as soon as possible.
KOMTRAX both keeps you informed about what’s going on below the hood and maintains automatic, accurate records that will help you calculate ownership costs to manage your fleet in the most effective way possible. For more information, click here.
By periodically analyzing fluids for contaminant levels, you have predictions of when components need replacements, to help you plan downtime.
Records are essential in forecasting how well machines perform. With proper records for each machine, including all repair work, you can check fuel consumption, maintenance expenses and operation costs, all of which are useful when it’s time to decide whether to repair or replace equipment.
The age of a machine can directly impact the cost effectiveness of continuing to own it or deciding to sell it. Operating costs will increase over time as repairs and other adjustments become necessary. It’s best to replace equipment once maintenance and/or repair costs exceed 30% of the machine’s resale value.
Your team’s safety is of utmost importance to us. For the most protection possible, here are best practices for heavy equipment operation.
Komatsu recommends regularly scheduled inspections for all brands and all types of track equipment. During our inspections, we routinely discuss proper track tension and cleaning requirements with your staff to maximize the life of your equipment’s track system. We identify operational and maintenance concerns that could reduce the life of any components and recommend an appropriate preventive maintenance program.
Track tension is maintained by a track adjuster that is situated behind the front idler. Adjustments can be made by pumping or draining grease through a fitting on the track adjuster. Large track sag indicates that the track is loose; small track sag indicates that the track is tight. A small adjustment in track sag – from 1″ to 0.5″ – has a huge impact on tension and increases tension by about 3,000 pounds.
Remember to adjust track tension to the operating conditions. As packing conditions increase, the adjusted track tension should decrease.
When the track chain is too tight, there is increased wear on all undercarriage components, especially pins, bushings, links and sprockets. Large frictional forces burden the drive train, causing mechanical loss and reduced drawbar pull. Friction between moving components causes temperatures to climb – sometimes hot enough to melt seals.
When the track chain is too loose, the track chain swings side to side and the machine weaves violently, causing increased wear on all components involved in track guidance – flanges, roller guards, link side faces and sprocket teeth. Upper waviness causes the track chain to whip, resulting in excessive wear on the idler and carrier roller. High speeds will increase the damage. In reverse, the sprocket may climb or skip bushings – causing loud, popping impacts – and you could see excessive noise and shaking.
Misalignment causes unnecessary wear to all undercarriage components. The most common type is idler shift, which can be fixed by adjusting idler shims. The quickest way to detect an alignment problem is to look for anything shiny that should not normally be shiny. Indicators that the track frame alignment system needs adjusting are: inside of track links are scuffed and shiny, roller and front idler flanges show wear, and sides of sprockets are coming in contact with the inside of the track links.
Use the slowest operating speed that will get the job done in a timely fashion; wear rate increases with speed. When working in high impact conditions, it is critical to use the lowest gears available whenever possible. Minimize reverse travel, as it causes much more wear to bushings and sprockets than forward travel, especially in high gear or when climbing uphill. Spinning the tracks is ineffective and causes unnecessary wear on the undercarriage by inflicting action on the grousers. Also, avoid favoring one side. If it is impossible to use symmetrical operating patterns, swap left and right rollers periodically.
Meet emission control standards, maintain machine efficiency, and reduce fuel usage with Komatsu’s state-of-the-art emissions control technology and maintenance tips.
It is essential that operators perform daily walkaround inspections for any equipment that is used on a jobsite. A careful inspection will allow small issues to be addressed before they become larger, more expensive and potentially dangerous problems. If any issues are noticed, operators should report them immediately and should not use the machine.
Examinations should include:
It’s important for operators to be alert for potential equipment malfunctions on the jobsite. Things to look for include intermittent electrical failures, inappropriate noises, cracks or other signs of impending breakage, and any damage to a machine.
Fast swings of a load put machines at risk. Be sure operators are moving loads carefully and adhering to prudent speed limits. Never exceed the working range or lifting capacity of a piece of equipment, and keep the machine as level as possible when operating.
This three-part inspection will keep your hammer healthy.
A loose or poorly-fitting attachment can quickly cause problems on a machine. Regularly inspect hoses and fittings for cracks or potential leaks. Also, make sure that hoses, fittings and shielding fit securely.
Attachments should be power washed on a regular basis to remove dirt, debris and other contaminants that can damage connectors. Once clean, apply lube or grease, but only after consulting the manufacturer’s recommendations. Specific machines require specifically formulated agents. Standard grease is not acceptable for most hammers.
Inspect locking mechanisms for any bending or stiffness that may damage the attachment or machine. Attachments should go on and come off smoothly. Never pry an attachment or otherwise force it on or off.
Buckets look tough, but they need extra care. A properly maintained bucket is more cost-effective because it digs and breaks out more efficiently, reducing fuel consumption and boosting work rate. Here are some tips on how to keep your bucket functioning well.
Inspect the mounting hinges weekly. Small cracks grow fast, so they should be immediately addressed.
Check for thinning or cracking. If there is any, corners should be replated and thickened to increase bucket lifespan. Unchecked damage can lead to corner failure during heavy lifts or, even worse, could tear out the bucket edge, requiring replacement.
Look for signs of distress. If there are any, unworn reversible edges can be rotated. If you don’t have reversible edges, take the bucket in for service to prevent more costly damage.
Regularly rotate your bucket teeth. They will last longer and work more efficiently. Also, be sure to inspect corner teeth. These wear faster but, luckily, can often be moved to the center to expand their usefulness. The same goes with lower edge teeth, which wear faster; these can often be turned upside down to distribute wear more evenly.
Stop. Do not use buckets that are missing any teeth. With these spaces, the adapter nose erodes, resulting in a poor fit when new teeth are installed.
There are a variety of bucket teeth for various tasks. For example, abrasive teeth are best for coal, while penetration teeth work better on rock. Check to make sure you’re using the right ones for your job.
As with hammers, buckets must be kept oiled or greased. This practice is the most cost effective and simplest way to maintain your buckets.
Worn pins and bushings put undue stress on the machine, resulting in less control, which can lead to expensive and complicated repairs. Inspect them for wear and tear as a preventive measure.
Follow these best practices to make sure your machine is ready for winter.
We all know that time is money, and equipment downtime on a jobsite can ruin profits, so I thought I’d share some basic maintenance tips to help you keep your compact excavator performing at its best.
One of the simplest – yet often overlooked – maintenance practices is the daily walkaround checklist. Be sure to check the engine oil, hydraulic fluid and coolant, and top off when necessary. Make sure that you’re using the manufacturer-recommended fluid. Remember, it never hurts to ask your dealer or your tech. After a week or so, it is important to check the fuel filter and drain any water or debris that may have built up, or replace it if necessary. Next, check the hydraulic hoses and air system for leaks; it’s always better to find a problem and fix it while it’s small than to wait until it’s too late.
Next, check all pivot points on the machine and grease where needed. You should also check the track tension – always check your operator’s manual for the proper technique. Something that is often completely overlooked is the bucket or attachment. Be sure to check all the pivot points on the attachment as well, and grease where needed. Also, take a look at the teeth on the bucket. If they are worn down to a certain degree, that can have a serious effect on the machine’s performance. If the teeth are worn and dull, the machine has to work a lot harder to get the job done, and there’s no reason for the added wear and tear on the machine. If you aren’t sure, ask your dealer or tech.
It is important to keep the radiator, oil cooler and other heat exchangers clean during operation. Check for any accumulated debris, and wipe down when necessary. Remember, slow oil or coolant leaks tend to collect dust and other particulate matter. Keep an eye out for potential problem areas during your daily checks.
Many modern excavators offer special features that allow for easier maintenance. Easy access is crucial when it comes to quick maintenance checks – all of our excavators feature a well-designed engine compartment and access panels. You should be able to access and locate components easily and safely. Another great feature on our newer excavators is a multi-function monitor in the cab. This electronic panel offers important performance readouts, and will let an operator know when fluid levels are low, or when maintenance is required.
You probably hear this a lot, but it is really important to use OEM filters and manufacturer-recommended fluids and fuel. The machines where developed and tested using these fluids and filters, and any difference in specs can affect the performance of the machine.
Be sure to check your operator’s manual and make sure that you are keeping up with the regular service intervals. Your technician will be sure to check the belt tension and alignment, keep up with the proper oil and fluid changes, and keep the cooling system running properly. Ask your dealer or tech about regular service intervals – again, it’s always better to stay on top of things.