The scorching heat is unforgiving and can be deadly to our machines on the job. While we cannot control the weather, we can prepare for it to help keep our equipment up and running to the best of its ability.
Wear and tear on a machine accelerates in extreme conditions, so preparation for weather is essential. Whether it is extreme cold or heat, working conditions have been proven to greatly impact performance and the longevity of machines. It is important to understand the environment you are working in and follow the operator’s manual guidelines.
Summer is a busy time for construction, so the last thing you or your crew need is your machine(s) breaking down due to the rising temps. To ensure you have uptime instead of costly downtime, it is best to create a proactive plan.
First, it is a good habit to do the following on a regular basis:
- Keep your machines clean
- Keep services up-to-date
- Correctly grease the unit
Always check the following before starting the machine:
- All fluids are up to the correct levels
- Coolant is mixed correctly to your operating environment and temperature
- The radiator is clean and free flowing
- Fan and fan drive belt are adjusted correctly
- Air flow passages are clean so the machine can exchange the hot air in the engine compartment with cool air from the outside (loader tower needs to be debris free). Without proper air flow the engine compartment can turn into a hot box, trapping the heat
When the temperature spikes, the components naturally work harder and can wear out quickly. With this in mind, it is good to pay close attention to the following:
- The display on your machine to see if it is operating at optimum capacity (especially as the day goes on)
- If the machine is in stressed conditions, try to find some shade to help it cool down faster. A stressed unit can be dangerous for the operator and anyone around the machine
- Let the machine idle before completely shutting down
- If your machine is equipped with Takeuchi Fleet Management, it is easy to check the engine temperature and catch any irregularities before anything too serious happens
- Don’t forget yourself — it is good to have plenty of liquids available for hydration
When working with a well-built machine, it is not unusual to take on an indestructible mentality—the idea that, sure we can move that rock as big as a house, climb straight up the side of the bank, or cross the deep pond or river. We need to understand the purpose and limitations of our equipment and take special precautions for extreme operating conditions.
Remember a machine is a tank with a bucket; if maintained correctly by servicing and greasing regularly, it will hold up to extremely harsh conditions. A proactive effort will pay off in the long run.
— Joe Topia is a national training manager at Takeuchi-US