Workers at construction and demolition sites often have to deal with airborne debris, which frequently blocks the airflow to radiators on heavy equipment. Several times a day equipment operators may have to shut down their machines and call an air compressor truck to come and clear the debris. Ultimately this leads to reduced productivity and higher operating expenses.
For years Lane County’s Waste Management Division located in Oregon had engine-overheating problems on all their bulldozers due to radiator plugging caused by airborne debris. The company sought a solution and found Flexxaire Manufacturing Inc., an ISO 9001-certified manufacturer that specializes in making self-cleaning, variable-pitch fan systems for heavy equipment.
The fans are designed to control and reverse airflow by automatically adjusting the pitch of the fan blades by up to 40 degrees in either direction from a neutral pitch position. After seeing the fans in action, Mike Turner, technical specialist for the waste management division, was convinced the fans could work for his machines. The fans could be programmed to regularly reverse the airflow through the radiator and blow debris from the radiator screen in a matter of seconds.
The fans proved to be a good investment. Once installed and operational they prevented engine-overheating problems and eliminated the need and added expense of an air compressor truck and driver. In addition, the fans reduced maintenance downtime and significantly increased production. Mr. Turner specified that all their future equipment have the fans and today, 12 years later, Lane County’s Landfill Manager Wende Hitchcock still insists that all their new dozers have them.
Over this time period Russell Liles, one of the heavy equipment mechanics, can only recall having two problems with the fans. “On one fan the bushings seized up, but that was because we weren’t lubricating it on a regular basis. Also, we had to move the control boxes inside the cab because having them outside was like shoving them down a sewer.”
Flexxaire has acknowledged these problems and now produces fans that don’t require a regular greasing, only an oil-change after 6,000 hours of operation. Furthermore, the company has instructed that all control boxes for their older electrical-mechanical Mark III fans be installed in areas not regularly subjected to corrosive oils or other materials that could damage electrical components.
Shane Bowen is publications/media coordinator for Flexxaire Manufacturing Inc. Edmonton, Alberta.