Heat Tips for Smooth Equipment Operations

July 22, 2021

Increased temperatures, along with longer work days, intensify the wear and tear on construction equipment. Maintenance tips from United Rentals are designed to help keep excavators, trucks, backhoe loaders, and other equipment running smoothly and productively on job sites.

“Keeping equipment running requires an organized approach of daily and long-term maintenance activities that emphasize operating life and safety,” said Bret Kasubke, director of customer equipment solutions, in a prepared statement. “Tailoring actions to the specialized needs of equipment during the summer can help contractors protect workers and maximize productivity during this peak construction period.”

Daily equipment inspection checklist for summer

Daily inspections are an essential element of effective maintenance programs. During summertime, contractors should especially look for these issues.

  • Coolant and oil. Daily maintenance checks should ensure the machine has the proper coolant level, coolant/water ratio, and oil levels recommended by the manufacturer.  
  • Grease. Hot temperatures reduce the adhesive properties of grease, so use thicker grease. Consult the equipment manual to find what type of grease is best for the machine, where to grease, and how often. When dust and silt mix with grease, it increases wear and tear on the equipment, so clean equipment regularly.
  • Belts and hoses. Discolored hoses and loose belts offer the first hint of overheating, so be sure to inspect them.
  • Hydraulic system and air filters. Check for signs of possible hydraulic leaks, excess oil and grease, leaks around seals, and loose bolts. Also give the air filters a look-over. 
  • Tires. Hot conditions weaken tires and may cause a blowout. Check tire pressure regularly. Tire pressure increases with the temperature, which can lead to over-inflation. On the flip side, an underinflated tire heats up more quickly.
  • Brakes. Check the brakes. Steamy summers can cause the loss of brake friction because the brake components cannot absorb the additional heat.
  • Cooling system. Summer working conditions require maximum airflow through the oil cooler. Check that the radiators, and inlets and outlets of the cooling system are free of debris. Accumulated dust that cakes can clog a cooling system, so use compressed air daily to clean it.

Scheduled maintenance tips for summer

Along with conducting daily inspections, contractors should set a schedule for a deeper maintenance routine. Whether working with excavators, wheel loaders, skid steer loaders or other equipment, scheduled maintenance routines need to cover hydraulic and engine oil levels, transmission oil, radiator coolant, tire treads, battery, brakes and many other check-list items.

Make sure the coolant matches the manufacturer’s specifications. Older equipment may use a silica-based coolant. Newer equipment usually includes a tag near the coolant filler that indicates the use of an organic acid technology (OAT) coolant. Anti-freeze used in summer must have a higher boiling point to prevent cooling water from boiling.

Clean and check seals, filters and breathers because dry, windy summer days can push dust and contaminants into equipment systems. Check the transmission, pistons, bearings and major assemblies for signs of wear or lubricant build-up.

Many times, manufacturers specify the replacement of parts at certain intervals for equipment used in hot environments. Use software calendaring tools to schedule maintenance and use a log to document part replacements as well as lubrication and repairs.

Maintenance is part of an even larger fleet management strategy. Outsourcing to an equipment maintenance service provider that specializes in equipment repair and service in the field and onsite can protect a contractor’s equipment investment. These services safeguard employees by helping ensure equipment is expertly inspected, maintained and repaired. They can help contractors address ANSI, OSHA and CSA requirements.

“Maintaining equipment fleet is not easy. Working with an equipment maintenance service provider allows contractors to set up a proactive, automated program of preventive maintenance and inspections customized to their specific needs. An effective maintenance program positions contractors to extract maximum value from their fleet,” said Kasubke.

Source: United Rentals