Manufacturers remind us that the simple things are valuable things as far as maintaining skid steer loaders to keep operating costs in line.
“The best way for managers to keep operating costs down is to follow through on the simple things,” says George MacIntyre, product manager, skid steers and CTLs, Case Construction Equipment.
“It’s critical that equipment owners keep up on the regular maintenance intervals recommended by the OEM. Also, many machines now offer economy modes and settings—be sure to utilize those economy settings on the skid steer if available.
Economy modes and settings
“Case offers economy modes on all electro-hydraulic (EH) control units,” MacIntyre says. “The economy mode includes features like engine shutdown, ignition timeout, and engine protection features that extend the life and performance of the engine, battery, and other critical systems.”
Kevin Coleman, senior product specialist for Caterpillar, stresses service access as an important maintenance factor.
“The biggest driver to high operating costs is unplanned downtime, so take time to evaluate the access for daily service and routine maintenance items,” Coleman says.
“Daily checks and fill items, such as engine oil, should be easy to accomplish without having to reach into areas where components may be hot,” he says. “Routine maintenance items, like cleaning and replacing the engine air filter, should be quick and simple without requiring bolts and panels to be removed. Other routine maintenance items, like the fuel filter or hydraulic filter, should be straightforward to locate and access without requiring other components, like cabs or cooling cores, to be unbolted and moved.”
Coleman also says to consider longer-life fluids as part of a basic maintenance strategy.
“To avoid additional maintenance downtime, machines equipped with longer life fluids can decrease service frequency,” he says. Coleman cites the example that the factory-installed hydraulic oil for the Cat SSLs does not require a change until the machine reaches 6,000 hours.
“All that’s needed is for the oil to be monitored with the Cat SOS [scheduled oil sampling] program and regular filter changes per the schedule in the owner’s manual,” Coleman says. “Similarly, the factory-installed extended life engine coolant is designed for a life of up to 12,000 hours. Not having to service these items as frequently can save money and time.”
Finally, don’t forget the various resources available to help, such as the operator’s manual. Also, OEMs and fellow operators and managers have placed their maintenance expertise and experience on the Internet.
“Caterpillar has a library of YouTube videos to further describe many of these items for owners and operators regarding the servicing their machines,” Coleman says.
Case has also put up a series of “Tech Talk” videos pertaining to maintenance and other topics.