Solid Waste & Recycling


How to Maintain Your Equipment Fleet

Healthy equipment that runs efficiently and achieves top production is the hallmark of a profitable equipment fleet. To achieve this goal, equipment must be effectively maintained at the least possibl...

Healthy equipment that runs efficiently and achieves top production is the hallmark of a profitable equipment fleet. To achieve this goal, equipment must be effectively maintained at the least possible cost. The following tips from John Deere Service Marketing Manager Diego Navarro will help equipment fleet managers accomplish maximum productivity and uptime while minimizing costs.

Condition-based maintenance

Condition-based maintenance is exactly what it sounds like — proactive maintenance procedures based on the condition of the machine. To provide maintenance, the technician reads the health of the machine and provides services based on that information. The most powerful technique used in condition-based maintenance is a complete oil analysis.

“With many inferior oil analysis tests out there, it’s imperative to use one that will give you complete information,” Navarro says. “Any John Deere dealer can analyze an oil sample and really read what’s going on with the machine.”

Another technique commonly used in condition-based maintenance is root cause analysis, according to Navarro. “Any problem has three root causes,” he said. “One of them obviously is human error. Then there’s fiscal error — for example, using the wrong kind of oil or not using enough. Administrative error also can play a part. In short, if you don’t find the reason the machine is failing, it will fail again. Root cause analysis helps us get to what is really causing the problem, so we can address it. It’s treating the disease instead of just relieving the symptoms.”

Particle counts and filtration

Filtration of the hydraulic system is important to extend the component life of any machine. The technician should initially determine the particle count by examining the machine oil for foreign particles. Once that is done, a target particle count can be established, and then filtration can take place to reach that target.

“You may need to use bypass filtration, which is an aftermarket product. An onsite filtration caddy, on the other hand, can clean the hydraulics very fast while you’re performing other services. The bypass will take two or three weeks to reach that cleanliness,” Navarro says.

Another technique, magnetic filtration, is effective for components such as axles. It is primarily used to capture iron particles. “Iron in big quantities damages veins, oxidizes the oil and consumes the additive,” according to Navarro. “When you change oils, not all the iron goes out, so it’s important to collect that iron using magnetic filtration.”

Proper lubrication

Lubricants are designed for a specific purpose, then are tested and developed with stringent quality control. During the testing, they’re subject to a wide range of temperatures, pressures and more to determine how they will perform. As a result, mixing lubricants is a risk machine owners won’t want to take.

“When your machine needs more oil, and you simply add any product you find instead of sticking with what’s already being used in the machine, you are instantly changing the formulation,” Navarro says. “This produces a new product that has not been tested, and it can often affect the machine negatively and accelerate wear, as these two lubricants aren’t designed to work together.”

One negative reaction that mixing lubricants can cause is copper generation. Copper comes from bronze, which is an alloy used in all high-pressure systems in the pumps. If copper is being leached from the pump’s bronze, the alloys will weaken and pump efficiency will suffer, resulting in contamination of the entire system and components, according to Navarro.

“If excess copper shows up in your oil analysis, your dealer can help you determine why the system is generating copper and fix the problem,” he says.

Electronic machine information download

One useful tool to maximize uptime and keep operating costs as low as possible is a system that allows for electronic machine download. Machines with this type of system can record up to 10,000 hours of operation information, from fuel consumption to pressures and temperature to percentage of use of the arm, bucket, swing and more. For example, this kind of data can be retrieved from John Deere excavators using a tool called Machine Information Center.

“Machine Information Center is vital to keeping costs in line,” Navarro continues. “It helps you determine how much time your operator spends idling or working, or when the way he is operating the machine is wearing out the tracks — it records just about everything about machine operation. The result is hours and hours of information that can really help the fleet supervisor manage cost and maintenance.”

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