Extend the lifespan of your excavator with these tips & best practices

Monica Gameng   |   June 11, 2021
Excavator at work (cr: Pixabay - Ada K)

Running an equipment hire business is not as simple as buying several equipment and hiring them out. A good and reliable supplier should have a well-maintained fleet to ensure that hirers will not face a breakdown or possible accidents while using the hired machinery. 

In this post, we will break down (no pun intended) how to maintain one of the most used equipment in construction and mining – the excavator. 

Read the user manual 

Every piece of equipment comes with a user manual and it will include information on how to operate the machine and steps to proper maintenance. The manual also contains information about the different parts of the equipment and the ways you can troubleshoot each part when it stops functioning. 

In addition, the manual includes other important details such as safety features, routine servicing schedules and instrumentation. 

Best practice: Keep the user manual close at hand – may it be in your office or in the excavator cab – in case you or the operator runs into an issue with the equipment and you need to check how to resolve it. 

Be familiar with the job site

Knowing how to work your excavator is vital but knowing and familiarising where you will be using the equipment is also important. 

Understanding the job site will allow you to map out what areas have potential hazards that could damage your excavator. This allows you to be more cautious when you are working on that specific part of the project site. 

Best practice: Before starting work, walk around the area you will be working on and take note of the site conditions – is the ground soft, can it handle the weight of the excavator, how much space do you have to move around in, etc. 

Keep your excavator clean 

Earthmoving equipment like the excavator have the dirtiest jobs (quite literally) on site. If you want to keep your excavator in tip top shape, make sure to clean it regularly. 

Dirt can get into every nook and cranny of your excavator. If that dirt accumulates, settles and/or hardens – especially at the joints and undercarriage – it could cause early wear and tear or completely damage your equipment. 

Best practice: If you're working on an especially muddy site, make sure to give your excavator a quick wash before you finish work for the day and don't let the mud harden as it's harder to wash off later. Also give your equipment a thorough wash as often as possible to keep dirt from settling or accumulating. 

Routine check-up and maintenance 

Equipment wear and tear are inevitable most especially if the machine is in constant use. So, how can you prolong the life of your excavator? With routine or scheduled check-ups and preventive maintenance.  

The equipment’s user manual will contain suggested servicing intervals or maintenance schedules, so make sure you take note of these and ensure that you follow it to keep your excavator in good working condition. 

Also, frequently inspect parts of your equipment and evaluate if those parts are working properly. If you see that a certain part of the excavator is not functioning well, get it repaired immediately.  

Other things to check include track tension to prevent it from wearing off quickly; grease on pins and bushings; and hydraulic oil to keep moving parts protected and prevent it from rusting. 

Best practice: Keep a record of all repairs, maintenance and check-ups done to your excavator. Every detail counts, so make sure you include even the minor repairs and servicing. 

Train employees 

Operating an excavator with untrained hands can cause damage to your machinery due to the employee’s inexperience in using it. Not only that, but operating equipment without proper training can also cause injury to the employee or accidents in the work place. 

To keep your excavator from unexpected damages and employees from getting injured, make sure to train your workers how to properly operate the equipment and how to identify risks in the work site. 

Best practice: Hire employees or operators with proper training and/or certifications. You can also opt to provide training to your inexperienced employees through certified or accredited courses – the Australian Government’s myskills website is a good place to start looking for training services. 

Use authorised repairers 

Similar to operating equipment without proper training, doing any repairs on your excavator with no training or knowledge can cause more damage rather than solve the problem. 

If your excavator needs repairing or maintenance work, go to an authorised repair and maintenance shop and never let your untrained employees repair the machinery by themselves. 

Going to an authorised repair and maintenance shop will also guarantee that parts or materials used are original, under warranty and of good quality. 

Best practice: Go to your equipment dealership for repair and maintenance work if they offer it or ask your dealership for a list of authorised shops that can provide the proper care for the excavator when needed. 

Proper care and maintenance will not only expand the lifespan of your excavator but having a well-oiled machine will also help boost work productivity and help you save money by taking out the need to purchase new and expensive equipment often to replace a broken down one. 

In turn, if you are looking to hire an excavator for a job, don't hesitate to ask the supplier questions about their service track record - a good and reliable supplier should be transparent with their customers regarding these matters. 

Do you have other tips to help maintain an excavator and make it last longer? Share it in the comments section below. 

Sources: Construction Business OwnerMulticoManagerPlus; Utility ContractorMAY-RHI 

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Monica Gameng
As Felix's Marketing Assistant since 2015, Monica is responsible for researching and sharing new and progressing projects within the construction and mining sectors in Australia. It's no surprise that Monica has her finger on the pulse of Australian major projects given she has produced more than 1,000 posts. She truly is an industry expert.
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