Canadian Mining Journal

Feature

Seven ways to extend the life of your excavator

Tips from excavator manufacturer Hitachi



Hitachi’s EX2600-7 mining excavator.

Working every day in rough elements can cause grief for even the most durable excavators That’s why it’s critical to perform regular check-ins and maintenance to extend the life of your excavator. A few extra minutes each day will not only help increase your machine’s durability, they will also improve its efficiency and reliability.

  1. Maintain a clean cab

The cab and windows should always be clean in order to maximize job site safety and productivity. Operators need good visibility, and with a lot of wind and fine particles, it’s easy for those windows to be caked with dirt and dust.

Use an approved cleaning solution to wash windows. Not all windows are made with the same materials – even on similar models from the same manufacturer. Check each individual machine’s manual to be sure you are using a solution that’s compatible with your windows.

Once clean, make sure all windows are in place and intact – not gouged, cracked or seriously scratched. This type of damage can compromise a window’s integrity and increase its likelihood of breaking or shattering.

Clear the cab of any unnecessary clutter and materials. Get rid of loose spare parts or trash that could affect your ability to control the machine. You also never want items to get caught behind the seat, under pedals, or in any other location that can impede machine control.

  1. Take care of the tracks

To start, clean out the tracks daily. Muddy, rocky terrain can be extremely abrasive and will collect around the tracks, track shoes, undercarriage and swing bearing. Clean-out is important because – if left in there – the accumulated mud hardens and accelerates the wear on the undercarriage and tracks and can cause roller damage.

You should also complete weekly checks of the tracks’ tension. Look for too much sag, which could damage the tracks or the rollers. See your operator’s manual for the correct track sag specifications and procedure.

  1. Fix damages immediately

Once you realize your excavator is damaged, take action immediately. The longer you go without addressing it, the more wear and tear affects the machine – even on other components that aren’t broken. Repairing damages immediately helps mitigate additional maintenance costs you could otherwise incur. Contact your authorized equipment dealer to discuss a complete machine inspection and repairs.

  1. Pay attention to alerts

Your excavator’s telematics are an important tool you should utilize to increase the lifespan of your machine. If you ignore alerts, you’re missing one of the key advantages of telematics.

On Hitachi mining machines, you have connection to Hitachi’s Global e-Service. This online machine management system provides access to each on-site machine from a PC. With on-board sensors, diagnostic tools, real-time data and intelligent software, you can help ensure your excavator reaches its full potential.

Once you receive an alert, act on it. Merely reading the alert negates the purpose of having that valuable data at your fingertips. Contact your authorized dealer to discuss support options for telematics.

Another critical alert is conducted through fluid sampling. Fluid sampling is essential to maximize uptime, limit downtime, and keep operating costs low.

  1. Refuel your machine

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

When refuelling, top-off your DEF tank with clean, filtered diesel exhaust fluid (if equipped). On excavators, the DEF tank is typically wider and shallower than on other machines. If you don’t top it off, it can swash around in the tank creating foam and clogging the system, which can generate diagnostic trouble codes and machine downtime.

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

  1. Inspect screen guards

On equipment where present, inspect screen guards over the windows and cab openings. Be sure they’re secure and in good condition. With such a wide range of materials such as sharp rocks and large pieces of debris, it’s important to keep those in top condition.

  1. Inspect fire extinguishers and water tanks

Be sure fire extinguishers and water tanks are operable and easily accessible. Check the water pressure of the tanks. You want to ensure your safety and the wellbeing of your coworkers.

 

Now that you have these tips to help extend your machine’s life, you might be adding up the time for these inspections.

Ground level inspections should not take longer than five to 10 minutes. Likewise, checking the tracks should also take an easy five to 10 minutes. By regularly inspecting your machine, you’ll know what to look for. 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. Review your owner’s manuals for inspection requirements and other maintenance tips. When in doubt, always check with your local dealer.

By performing basic upkeep and regular inspections, you can extend the life of your machine. Plus, a clean, efficient machine contributes to a better work environment, enhanced safety and increased productivity. Take pride in your machine.

Hitachi offers a variety of machines, such as the new EX3600-7, that are built to be efficient, reliable and durable. Choose a machine that best fits your site’s needs and can also help you get the job done.


Craig Steinhauser is the division manager of product support, Hitachi Construction Machinery – Americas.


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