Competitive advantages of the Compact Track Loader (CTL) can be lost if maintenance issues get in the way of the job. By taking the following steps each day pre- and post-operation, construction equipment owners and operators can help to prevent costly downtime events, improve productivity and extend service life.
Check fluid levels – engine and hydraulic oil, diesel and diesel exhaust fluid (DEF), and coolant. Fluids are the lifeblood of each machine and require certain levels to operate properly. A sudden drop in fluid levels may result in any number of problems (blown hoses, leaking filter, etc.). Using OEM-spec engine oils helps to ensure that a machine will operate efficiently as possible throughout its lifetime and stay on the maintenance schedule. Also, keep the machine properly greased, this is critical considering the power and friction created by this heavy construction equipment.
Engine Compartment and Filters
Clear any debris around the radiator and other engine components. The engine is made of moving parts and belts that generate heat and friction – systems designed to cool the engine compartment require breathing room. Check belts (alternator, fan, etc.) and filters. A worn and frayed belt is relatively easy to replace. If noticed before it fails, it can be communicated with the maintenance team or the next PM so it doesn’t create unplanned downtime during the work day. Check the fuel, oil, air and other filters for signs of damage or leaking, also a quick and easy item to replace.
Hydraulics and Leaks
Check auxiliary hydraulic connections and pressure. Simply check the integrity of the coupling structure and that it hasn’t been damaged. Newer construction equipment often includes pressure relieving quick disconnects – take time to relieve the pressure when disconnecting attachments. Check for leaks as well or any pooled fluid around or under the machine, this is an easy indicator that something isn’t right.
Check for damage on ground engaging tools (buckets, teeth, etc.). Worn or broken buckets and teeth lead to inefficient operation, greater fuel use, and greater wear and tear to the construction machinery. Identifying and addressing these elements before they become problematic will make the operator more efficient. Inspect the attachment mount-up to ensure proper connection. This includes checking that the coupler is flush and fully engaged (either via manual or automatic/hydraulic means), and that the hydraulic hoses (and electrical connections, if applicable) are connected properly.
Inside the Cab
Inspect the operator compartment and clear away any debris. Clutter can be distracting and anything that prevents the full range of controls from being engaged is a hazard. Check and set mirrors. Having mirrors set to the operator’s preference will make them a better operator. Familiarize yourself with the control style, most of today’s machine’s come with rather simple pattern selectors that allow the operator to use the control pattern of their choice. Identify auxiliary/attachment controls. Each type and style of machine controls attachments differently – operators should identify how to properly work their attachment prior to using it.
Proper Maintenance = Profit
The overall health and longevity of construction equipment often comes down to daily and weekly maintenance procedures. By following maintenance best practices, owners and operators are ensuring that their CTLs contribute to a safe and productive operation, work to their full potential and a strong bottom line.