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11 steps to maximize cone crusher productivity

Cost-effective aggregate production begins with employees who are knowledgeable about the maintenance requirements and operational parameters of the cone crushers they operate. There are certain proven methods and practices industry […]

Cost-effective aggregate production begins with employees who are knowledgeable about the maintenance requirements and operational parameters of the cone crushers they operate. There are certain proven methods and practices industry experts use to ensure a smooth crushing operation. This article presents key tips that will help you maximize your cone crushing operation.

1. Operate at a consistent closed-side discharge setting. Producing a consistent product quantity, quality, uniformity and attaining a balanced circuit begins with operating the cone crusher at a consistent closed-side discharge setting. If a crusher is allowed to operate at a wider-than-optimum setting for even a short period of time, the result will be less product and an increase in oversized material.

Keep in mind that oversized product almost always creates circuit flow problems within the aggregate plant. An example of the effect that crusher setting has on the product gradation is as follows: If the target crusher setting is 3/8 in. (10 mm) but the setting is not checked and it wears open to 1/2 in. (13 mm), then the end result is a 15 percent decrease in the minus 3/8-in. (10 mm) material size. This is a substantial decrease in productivity.

Most aggregate producers would be amazed at the revenue lost each year due to the simple fact that crushers are not being operated at consistent closed-side settings. The crusher setting should be checked on a per-shift basis.

2. Operate at a consistent “choke-fed” cavity level.If a crusher operates at varying cavity levels throughout the shift, the result will be an inconsistent product shape and inconsistent production rate. Operating a cone crusher at a low cavity level (half cavity) will result in a significantly coarser product gradation, and this low cavity level will also produce more flat and elongated product particles.

Efforts should be made to operate the crusher at a proper choke-fed cavity level, as the favorable end result will be increased crusher throughput tonnage and a more cubical-shaped product. This tip is particularly important for the tertiary (short head) crushers in the circuit, as they produce the vast majority of an aggregate operation’s salable products.

3. Do not trickle feed the crusher. Trickle feeding a cone crusher should be avoided because it not only results in poor productivity and poor product shape, but it can also adversely affect bearing alignment within said crusher. Due to the operational characteristics of a cone crusher, when crushing, it should never be operated below 40 percent rated horsepower. To obtain a proper “loaded bearing alignment” and to maximize productivity, the crusher should be operated above 40 percent rated horsepower yet below 100 percent rated horsepower of the drive motor.

A power draw of 75 to 95 percent is a great target range to stay within while crushing. Excessive power peaks, particularly above 110 percent rated horsepower, should be avoided as this could lead to premature crusher failure.

4. Ensure the feed is evenly distributed. The incoming feed material should be directed on a vertical plane into the center of the crusher. When the incoming feed is not directed into the center of the cone, one side of the crushing cavity could be quite full while the opposite side of the cavity could be low or empty. This will always result in a low crusher throughput tonnage, the production of more flat and elongated product particles and oversized product.

This typically prompts crusher operators to tighten the crusher setting in order to get the crusher to make the smaller product size that they are trying to produce. This in turn can result in an overload condition in the form of adjustment ring movement on the side of the crusher that is heavily loaded. Over the long term, this can cause the adjustment ring to become tilted on the main frame, resulting in an even larger loss of productivity.

5. Ensure the feed is not segregated. All incoming feed material should be well mixed and homogeneous. A segregated feed condition exists when large stones are directed to one side of the crushing cavity and small stones are directed to the opposite side.

The side of the crusher receiving the small stones will have a higher-than-normal bulk density, and this can lead to something known as “packing” or “pancaking.” This in turn leads to adjustment ring movement on the side of the crusher receiving the smaller feed stones. Adjustment ring movement forces the operator to open the crusher setting to avoid this overload condition. This results in the production of oversized product due to the increase in crusher setting. In addition, segregated feeding and the resultant adjustment ring movement can lead to a tilted adjustment ring, resulting in larger loss of productivity.

6. Minimize surge loading for a more efficient circuit. Surge loading of any crusher is a “production enemy.” Surge piles or feed hoppers, along with variable-speed feeding devices, can be used to provide a better and more consistent feed control to the crusher. This allows the operator to run the crusher at a very consistent cavity level for extended periods of time. Providing better crusher feed control for the cone crusher through the use of surge piles, hoppers and variable-speed feeding devices such as belt conveyors or vibrating pan feeders can easily increase crusher productivity by a minimum of 10 percent.

7. Understand the design limitations of the cone crusher. Every cone crusher has three design limitations. These are the volume limit, the horsepower limit and the crushing force limit.

Regarding the volume limit, each crushing cavity has a volumetric limit that determines maximum throughput, and a choke-fed crusher is operating at its volumetric limit. The volume limit is exceeded when feed material overflows the top of the crusher. As for the horsepower limit, each crusher has been designed to operate at maximum power draw, and power draw will increase as the feed rate increases and as the feed material is crushed finer. The horsepower limit is exceeded when the crusher draws more power than it is rated for.

Lastly, don’t forget about the crushing force limit of the crusher. As with the horsepower limit, crushing forces being applied between the mantle and bowl liner increase as the feed rate increases, and as the feed material is crushed finer. The crushing force limit of the crusher is exceeded when the adjustment ring bounces, wiggles or moves on top of the main frame.

An ideal operational condition exists when the crusher is operating at its volumetric limit while still being slightly below both the horsepower limit and crushing force limit. Operating any crusher outside of its designed parameters with either excessive power draw or excessive crushing force results in a very serious crusher overload. These overloads create something known as “fatigue damage,” which is permanent, irreversible and cumulative. Without a doubt, frequent overloads will shorten the life cycle of any cone crusher.

8. Operate within the crusher design limitations. If you find the crusher operating in a crushing force overload condition (ring movement) or a power overload condition (excessive amperage), open the crusher setting slightly, but try to stay choke fed. The advantage of staying choke fed is the fact that there will still be rock-on-rock crushing and grinding taking place in the crushing cavity. This helps to maintain good cubical product even though the setting is slightly larger than optimum.

The other option, of course, is to decrease the feed rate to the crusher. But the downside is that product shape tends to suffer. Typical reasons for adjustment ring movement or excessive power draw are tramp events, poor feed distribution, segregation of the feed, too many fines in the feed, high-moisture content, wrong mantle and bowl liner being used or simply trying to operate at an unrealistically small closed-side setting.

9. Monitor and maintain a proper crusher speed. If proper drive belt tension is not maintained, the belts will slip and the crusher will slow down. A slowing crusher will cause incredibly high power peaks at a very low crusher throughput tonnage. Improper or neglected drive maintenance will result in a high-horsepower consumption at a low crusher throughput tonnage, and this inefficient use of connected horsepower will result in a higher-than-normal energy cost per ton of material crushed.

A speed sensor can be used to monitor the crusher countershaft speed, which will send a warning signal of a slowing crusher to the programmable logic controller, or it could be wired to simply turn on a warning lamp. When a warning is detected, the maintenance department can be dispatched to re-tighten the drive belts. When a speed sensor is used, drive belt life is extended and proper production levels can be maintained.

10. Determine the percentage of fines in the feed. “Fines in the crusher feed” is defined as material entering the top of the crusher, which is already equal to or smaller than the crusher’s closed-side discharge setting. As a rule of thumb, the maximum number of fines in the crusher feed should not exceed 25 percent for secondary crushers or 10 percent for tertiary crushers.

When there is an excessive quantity of fines in the feed, it is typically the result of a vibrating screen problem. This problem could be due to the fact that the screen is insufficient in size, or a screen that is sufficient in size yet is inefficient in operation. Re-crushing and re-handling product size material due to an insufficiently sized screen, inefficiencies due to the way the screen is set up or due to improper vibrating screen maintenance will lead to an excessive quantity of “fines in the crusher feed.” This will lead to inefficient use of connected crusher horsepower and a higher energy cost per ton of material crushed.

11. Limit the height from which the feed material drops. The maximum distance from which the feed material should fall from into the top of a small to mid-size cone crusher is 3 ft. When the feed material drops from a much greater distance, the stones tend to slam into the V-shaped crushing cavity with such velocity that it subjects the crusher to shock loads and extremely high stress levels. This situation is referred to as high-velocity wedging, and it can result in power overloads or force overloads – or both. This action puts undue stress and strain on the crusher components, and it results in increased maintenance repair costs and poor productivity.

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Maintenance Tips for Keeping Your Compact Wheel Loader Running Long and Strong

We’ll get into tips and details soon, but let’s start with a general preventive maintenance schedule for compact wheel loaders. These are not all inclusive and are only guidelines, so […]

We’ll get into tips and details soon, but let’s start with a general preventive maintenance schedule for compact wheel loaders. These are not all inclusive and are only guidelines, so be sure to follow the manufacturer’s recommendations for all maintenance procedures on your specific machines. You can start with the owner’s manual, but the most current information will be available from your dealer or the manufacturer’s website where updates and technical service bulletins will be applied. Unless otherwise noted, these are intervals, not one and done, so 50-hour tasks are done every 50 hours, 100 hour tasks every 100 hours, etc.


  • Levels of all fluids including fuel, coolant, hydraulic fluid, brake fluid, engine oil and DEF, where applicable
  • Check tire pressure and check tires for damage and wear
  • Check all safety systems


  • Remove all debris, giving special attention to the engine, grille screens and radiator cooling screen
  • Check for loose, damaged or missing parts


Adhere to the manufacturer’s recommended procedures following break-in. Because manufacturing facilities have become so clean, some manufacturers have greatly reduced the number of procedures required here or have even eliminated this step altogether.

Every 50 hours

  • Check quick-attach or loader pins
  • Check and service air pre-cleaner (if so equipped)
  • Check tension and condition of drive belts
  • Lubricate all zerks plus all hinges, pivots, etc.
  • Check fuel/water separator and drain as needed
  • Check function of all lights and indicators
  • Check for leaks in fuel, cooling, hydraulic, drive and brake systems

Every 100 hours

  • Thorough inspection of the entire machine
  • Check restriction indicator on air filter; clean filter element if the indicator has tripped
  • Check condition of brake pads and replace as needed
  • Check torque on all threaded fasteners
  • Check for chafing and pinching on the wiring harness
  • Check condition of all hoses
  • Clean battery terminals
  • Check battery electrolyte level, assuming the battery has removable caps
  • Check play in brake and clutch pedals and adjust as needed

Every 250 hours

  • Change engine oil and filter

Every 500-1,000 hours

  • Change fuel filter
  • Change hydraulic and transmission gearbox oil and filters
  • Check torque on all threaded fasteners (initial torque check should be at 100 hours on new or rebuilt equipment)


  • Flush and refill cooling system
  • Replace air cleaner elements
  • Change axle oil


A compact loader can have an “open” roll-over protective structure (ROPS), a heated cab or a fully air-conditioned cab. Obviously with an AC system, there are some periodic maintenance items that do not exist with an open ROPS. There are a few things to check periodically such as compressor belt tension and condition, refrigerant charge, the cleanliness of condenser fins and cleaning the recirculation filter. If cooling effectiveness drops and the maintenance steps above do not resolve the problem, the system may need additional service.

When servicing an AC system, keep in mind that the refrigerant must be approved by the EPA and, with the exception of R-744, cannot be intentionally released (vented) to the environment. When payment of any kind is involved (including non-monetary), any person working on the system must be certified under section 609 of the Clean Air Act and they must use approved refrigerant handling equipment. Refrigerant must be properly recycled or reclaimed before it can be reused, even if it is being returned to the vehicle from which it was removed. Other rules apply, but these are the key considerations. If you don’t have the resources to do your own work, AC shops will do this as a mobile service.

Axles and tires are the link to get the power to the ground and carry the load. Axle maintenance is pretty straight forward; make sure the mounting bolts to the chassis and wheel rims are retorqued as required in the owner’s manual and change the axle oil. The axle oil will also accumulate some wear metals and contaminants from the air. Changing the oil is the only way to purge the contaminants and replace the necessary additives in the axle oil. Axle oil changes are very simple and straight forward. Be sure to use a high-quality oil as recommended in the manual.


Using bargain fluids and will-fit parts is false economy. As engines and hydraulic systems have become more sophisticated, they have also become more exacting in the products they require, and using the wrong product can have disastrous consequences. For example, there are four current categories of diesel engine oil (CH-4, CI-4, CJ-4 and CK-4) for engines designed to meet various non-road emissions standards plus another, FA-4, that is meant for on-highway vehicles meeting 2017 greenhouse gas emissions standards. While there is some backward compatibility in the C Series oils, it’s not universal and FA-4 is absolutely the wrong choice in any engine not specifically designed for it. You’ll find the oil category plus other information, including viscosity, in the API “donut” on the oil container.

There are multiple types of coolant (antifreeze). Inorganic Acid Technology (IAT) is the old standard, what used to be referred to as ethylene glycol antifreeze. Organic Acid Technology and Hybrid Organic Acid Technology (OAT and HOAT) are long-life or extended-life coolants. The chemistry of each type is designed to provide maximum protection for the metals used in specific cooling systems, such as copper and brass versus aluminum. Despite claims of product-specific compatibility, it’s best to not mix coolant types.

Likewise there is an almost endless array of different greases based on consistency (NLGI class), thickener type, application (chassis fittings versus lift linkage, for example) and other factors. Choices in hydraulic fluid are as numerous as those for grease. Product information is in the owner’s manual for your loader, but unless you’re a dealer you might not have the latest information. Check the manufacturer’s website for current product recommendations. Whatever you do, don’t just grab a jug of something off the shelf in the service department and assume it’ll do the job. Using the wrong product can result in excessive wear and even premature failure.


Cleanliness is essential in obtaining full service life from loaders and in minimizing owning and operating costs. Reversing fans, swing-out coolers, water separators and filters are among the components having roles in cleanliness and should be serviced as required.

Because loaders normally work in extremely dusty conditions, keeping hydraulic oil clean is especially challenging. Hydraulic oil in a compact loader is shared between the hydrostatic (HST) drive system and the hydraulic system to steer, raise the loader and tilt the attachment. Since the compact loader is a Jack-of-all-trades, it can have many attachments on the front end. Contamination can come from the environment (dust, dirt, mud, water), from within the machine’s systems (wear metals, seal particles) and from an attachment. Faulty breathers and failing seals can let in a lot of contamination as the system heats up and cools down during and after operation.

The hydraulic system is sealed and pressurized to prevent the entrance of airborne dust particles. The oil from the HST system has an easy-to-change, spin-on filter; the hydraulic system also has a spin-on return filter. And finally, there is a suction strainer in the bottom of the hydraulic tank. These three items combine to stop any particles that came in with the oil, come from the hydraulic components or may have gotten in with the air that occurs when the system is opened to atmosphere.

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Backhoe Maintenance 101

While backhoes are a staple in many large fleets where they are cared for by a full-time fleet manager, they are equally – if not more so – widespread among […]

While backhoes are a staple in many large fleets where they are cared for by a full-time fleet manager, they are equally – if not more so – widespread among owner/operators and smaller businesses where the person operating the machine is also the one performing maintenance on it, hauling it, site foreman, lunch gofer, etc.

Even in those large fleets, where they may have “a guy” who performs all the maintenance, there are actions that operators can take in their day-to-day activities that will have a long-term effect on the health and performance of the machine.

The proliferation of Tier 4 Final equipment – with greater fuel and fluid tolerances/demands – also requires attention and understanding from everyone in the machine management cycle.

Rip this article out of the magazine, post it to the shop wall or make copies of it and tuck it in each crew truck. It’s a good refresher for backhoe operators, new and old, to keep that machine running at its best.

The Wisdom of the Owner’s Manual

Know it. Or, at least, know where to find it. Inside each owner’s manual is a detailed service interval schedule that should be followed. Old school fleet managers will lay out these intervals in a log book, or on a massive whiteboard in the shop. Others will leverage the free telematics available on select backhoe models (more on that later) and automate alerts for required maintenance so that intervals aren’t missed. Either way, everything needed is right there in the owner’s manual.

The Pre- and Post-Flight Walkaround

This is, arguably, the most important few minutes of the day in the life of the backhoe (or any machine, for that matter). As usual: check the oil and hydraulic fluid levels, check tire pressure and condition (especially important given how much time backhoes spend in travel mode), and grease as needed (more on that to come). But also take a few minutes to take in the overall condition of the machine. Look for visible damage, or leaks, or anything else that might be out of order or indicate something that would impede the operation of the machine. Check for cracked paint around the backhoe and loader arms where they could be susceptible to high stress. Cracked or spider-webbed paint could be an indication that the metal structure beneath is cracked and should be investigated to ensure there’s no serious damage. Inspect the condition of the buckets and/or attachments, and ensure that all are properly engaged. Check belts and auxiliary connections. Identifying possible mechanical issues with the backhoe, either at the beginning or the end of the day, will ensure that it is fixed and cared for properly before it turns into a more costly downtime event. This is especially important at the end of a shift where repairs can be identified and addressed before the start of the next day/shift so as to avoid downtime.

Evolving Fluids

There remains a learning curve with the new Tier 4 Final machines – but it’s not that hard or intensive to bring maintenance practices up to current standards/requirements. One of the areas affected the most is fluid.

Diesel Exhaust Fluid (DEF)

This is the “new” fluid required by today’s backhoes (greater than 74 horsepower), although owners of higher horsepower equipment and select on-road trucks have been using it for years. DEF is not difficult to manage or handle. Like other fluids, it likes cool and dry storage (although shelf life even at 86 degrees is still 12 months). It should be stored and dispensed in dedicated containers so as not to allow for any contamination (even minimal contamination of DEF can lead to degraded performance and eventual failure of the SCR system). Always buy DEF from a reliable source, and always use DEF that is ISO 22241 compliant.


Organic Acid Technology (OAT) is an extended life coolant that provides increased protection to the engine and better performance throughout its service life. Today’s Tier 4 Final backhoes feature a clearly marked decal near the fill point that indicates the use of OAT, and the brand specified by the OEM. This is also detailed in the owner’s manual.

Conventional coolant cannot be mixed with OAT, and off-brand/off-spec coolant (separate from what is specified by the OEM) can diminish its extended life properties and cause compatibility issues when mixed.


Today’s Tier 4 Final backhoes require a low-ash oil, CJ-4, that previously was not used in older equipment. This low-ash oil stands up to temperatures better than older formulations, and is backwards-compliant to older machines and trucks with diesel engines. The converse is not true, however. Older oils cannot be used on Tier 4 Final equipment that specifies CJ-4. Always refer to the owner’s manual for oil specifications required for that machine.

A Word on Fluid Testing

Do it. Equipment dealers have easy kits that contractors can buy, collect fluid samples, then send in for testing and receive a report back within a few days. Analyzing engine oil, fuel, hydraulic fluid and coolant provides valuable insight into the condition and overall health of the engine, transmission and hydraulic systems, and can be used to diagnose potential issues before they become a problem on site.

Engine Idling

In short: don’t do it – or try to avoid it as much as possible (we know folks in northern climates like to keep the air conditioner/heat running depending on the time of year). Excessive engine idling has always been a drain on fuel and adds unnecessary wear and tear (engine hours) to a machine. As it relates to today’s Tier 4 Final engines, the days of letting machines idle for extended periods of time are over. Idling does not allow the engine exhaust to obtain the necessary heat for the emissions system components to function. This can lead to the engine de-rating and/or failure of emissions components – a situation that may require a dealer service visit. This can be avoided by not idling the engine for extended periods of time.


One of the most common mistakes – and among the easiest to avoid – is the lack of greasing. It’s an easy but sometimes messy process that falls victim to “oh, it can wait another few hours” syndrome. There’s a reason OEMs recommend greasing specific joints such as the bucket, loader arms and extendahoe daily – equipment consists of large pieces of steel working in precise movement and under the stress of heavy digging, lifting and swinging. It needs that grease to ensure that everything is working properly and that no undo stress is being put on the machine.

At the beginning of the shift, as part of the normal warm-up process, stretch out the machine a bit, lifting and lowering the loader arms, rolling the bucket, and cycling the backhoe through its normal movements. Listen for any sounds that would indicate seizing and steel grinding against steel – grease accordingly.


OEMs like CASE are making it easier than ever for companies to discover the power of telematics. All CASE backhoes, for instance, come standard with a three-year subscription to CASE SiteWatch. This web-based software program allows the backhoe owner to access information on machine performance factors, track engine hours, and all-together keep better track of maintenance intervals and machine health. It enables alerts to be sent when certain intervals are hit, or when machine operating characteristics fall outside of desired parameters. It essentially automates many of the notices and reports that a backhoe owner should be monitoring to ensure the long-term productivity of that machine and puts it in the palm of their hand (tablet, phone) or on their desktop. Take advantage of it – and keep vigilant on everything we’ve discussed in this article to ensure optimal uptime. Now, and for years to come.

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6 Tips to Properly Maintain Your Excavator Undercarriage

The undercarriage of tracked heavy equipment, such as crawler excavators, consists of many moving components that need to be maintained for them to function properly. If the undercarriage is not […]

The undercarriage of tracked heavy equipment, such as crawler excavators, consists of many moving components that need to be maintained for them to function properly. If the undercarriage is not routinely inspected and maintained, it can easily cost you valuable time, money and potentially decrease the track’s life span.

By following these six tips, outlined by Shane Reardon, Doosan excavator product specialist, you can get better performance and life out of your crawler excavator’s steel track undercarriage when working in construction applications.

Tip No. 1: Keep the Undercarriage Clean

At the end of each workday, excavator operators should take time to clean out dirt and other debris that may lead to undercarriage buildup. Shovels and pressure washers can be used to help clean the undercarriage.

If the undercarriage is not routinely cleaned, it will accelerate premature wear on components. This is especially true in colder climates.

“If operators neglect to clean the undercarriage and are working in a colder climate, the mud, dirt and debris will freeze,” Reardon says. “Once that material freezes, it can start to rub on the bolts, loosen the guiding and seize up the rollers, leading to potential wear later on. Cleaning the undercarriage helps prevent unnecessary downtime.”

In addition, debris can add weight to the undercarriage, reducing fuel economy.

Many manufacturers now offer undercarriages that are designed for easier track carriage cleanout, helping debris fall to the ground rather than become packed in the track system.

Tip No. 2: Routinely Inspect the Undercarriage

It is important to complete a full undercarriage inspection for excessive or uneven wear, as well as look for damaged or missing components. According to Reardon, if the machine is being used in harsh applications or other challenging conditions, the undercarriage may need to be inspected more frequently.

The following items should be inspected on a routine basis:

  • Drive motor
  • Drive sprockets
  • Main idlers and rollers
  • Rock guards
  • Track bolts
  • Track chains
  • Track shoes
  • Track tension

During a routine machine walk-around, operators should check the tracks to see if any components look out of place. If so, this could indicate a loose track pad or possibly a broken track pin. In addition, they should inspect the rollers, idlers and drives for oil leakage. These oil leaks could indicate a failed seal which could lead to a major failure in the rollers, idlers or track drive motors.

Always follow the manufacturer’s operation and maintenance manual for proper undercarriage maintenance.

Tip No. 3: Follow Basic Best Practices

Certain construction jobsite tasks can create more wear on excavator tracks and undercarriages than other applications, so it is important that operators adhere to the manufacturer’s recommended operating procedures.

According to Reardon, some tips that can help minimize track and undercarriage wear include:

  • Make wider turns: Sharp turns or pivoting the machine can lead to accelerated wear and increase the potential for de-tracking.
  • Minimize time on slopes: Constant operation on a slope or hill in one direction can accelerate wear. However, many applications require slope or hillside work. When moving the machine up or down a hill, make sure that the drive motor is in the correct position to reduce track wear. According to Reardon, the drive motor should be facing the back of the machine for easy maneuverability up a slope or hill.
  • Avoid harsh environments: Rough asphalt or concrete or other abrasive materials can cause damage to tracks.
  • Reduce unnecessary spinning: Train your operators to make wide, less aggressive turns. Track spinning can lead to wear and decrease productivity.
  • Select the correct shoe width: Choose the proper shoe width by considering the weight of the machine and application. For instance, narrower excavator shoes are better suited for hard soil and rocky conditions because they have better soil penetration and grip. Wide excavator shoes typically work well in soft underfoot conditions because they have more flotation with lower ground pressure.
  • Pick the correct grouser: Consider the application before choosing the number of grousers per shoe. A single or double grouser may work well when laying pipe but may not work well in other applications. Typically, the higher number of grousers the track has, the more contact the track has with the ground, vibration is reduced and the track will last longer when working in more abrasive conditions.

Tip No. 4: Maintain Proper Track Tension

Incorrect track tension may lead to increased track wear, so it is important to adhere to the proper tension. As a general rule, when your operators are working in soft, muddy conditions, it is recommended to run the tracks slightly looser.

“If steel tracks are too tight or too loose, it can quickly accelerate wear,” Reardon says. “A loose track could cause the tracks to de-track.”

Tip No. 5: Consider Rubber Tracks for Sensitive Surfaces

Rubber tracks are available on smaller excavators and these models excel in a variety of applications. Most noticeably, rubber tracks provide good flotation, allowing excavators to travel across and work on soft ground conditions. The rubber tracks have minimal ground disturbance on finished surfaces, such as concrete, grass or asphalt.

Tip No. 6: Adhere to Proper Digging Procedures

Excavator operators should follow basic operating procedures as outlined in the manufacturer’s operation and maintenance manual to minimize excessive wear and track degradation.

The undercarriage makes up a large portion of track replacement costs. It consists of expensive components. Adhering to these six undercarriage maintenance tips, as well as proper track maintenance can help keep your overall cost of ownership down and extend the life of your tracks.

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Eight Tips for Managing Excavator Owning and Operating Costs

Here are eight considerations that can help you manage your overall operating costs, sharpen your bids and improve the profitability of your business. As a business owner, there are always […]

Here are eight considerations that can help you manage your overall operating costs, sharpen your bids and improve the profitability of your business.

As a business owner, there are always factors that are out of your hands. However, effectively managing the things that you CAN control will save you time and money, and will have a positive impact on your bottom line. Here are eight considerations that can help you manage your overall operating costs, sharpen your bids and improve the profitability of your business.

1. Regular Maintenance.

The number one thing that can be done to retain value and extend the life of your excavator is to perform basic maintenance as recommended by the operators manual. Make sure that you’re checking your filters, sampling the oil, greasing the attachments, checking fuel quality—these simple maintenance procedures will keep your costs down and prevent any premature failures.

2. Cooling System.

Heavy equipment is typically utilized in environments with a high level of dust and debris. It is essential to make sure that your radiator and cooling systems are cleaned out regularly, otherwise you run the risk of overheating the engine and causing other problems. We’ve designed our excavators with tilt-out coolers to make it easy for operators and technicians to access in order to blow them out.

3. Undercarriage.

Something as simple as making sure the undercarriage is kept clean can prevent costly wear and tear, and prolong the life of a machine. It’s also important to check for wear on your pins and along the track regularly. Look for scouring along the hydraulic cylinders, idler and sprockets—any kind of debris in there can speed things up along those wear points and lead to costly downtime. It’s also important to make sure that the track tension is set properly—having it too loose or too tight can cause unnecessary wear on those components.

4. Buckets and other Attachments.

If you’re working with a worn-down attachment, it’s going to make your excavator work harder—burning more fuel, and taking more time and wages to perform the job at hand. That’s why it’s important to keep an eye on the teeth, wear plates and other crucial points on your attachments. A worn bucket or a poorly maintained breaker attachment can tear up an excavator arm and cause lots of unnecessary wear on the machine, so always take the time to make sure that your attachments are properly maintained.

5. Fuel Quality.

Fuel quality is extremely important with the engine systems that we’re using in today’s machines. Most manufacturers are using a high-pressure common rail (HPCR) system now on their engines, and any kind of debris that is going to filter through that fuel system will damage those injectors to the smallest micron readings. Any kind of contamination can cause unnecessary wear on the system, so it is more critical than ever to make sure that you are getting your fuel from a reputable service provider. Keep an eye on fueling procedures to make sure there aren’t opportunities for dust and debris to contaminate the fuel, DEF and other fluids.

6. Operating Modes.

Most manufacturers offer multiple operating modes on their excavators, so it’s important for operators to take advantage of these options. To help owners and operators manage fuel consumption, CASE excavators feature three operating modes with varying RPMs and fuel efficiency. Our excavators also include an auto-idle feature that kicks in after three seconds of inactivity, and an auto-shutdown feature that shuts the machine down after three minutes to help further reduce fuel consumption.

7. Telematics and Machine Control.

One of the best ways to improve production and machine utilization, simplify maintenance procedures and protect your equipment investment is through the utilization of telematics and machine control. Telematics systems can give you unprecedented data on how your machines are being utilized in the field—idle time, operating practices, total utilization, etc.

Machine control improves productivity and reduces the amount of re-work on a job site. Over time, intelligent equipment utilization through machine control can reduce the wear and tear on your machine components and ground-engaging tools, lower maintenance costs and fuel consumption, and extend the life of your machine – all while drastically improving productivity.

8. Remanufactured Parts.

Remanufactured parts are available now more than ever, and are a great option to consider for owners who want to keep their costs down. In order to better serve the needs of their customers, many OEMs now keep thousands of remanufactured parts and components in stock, ready to ship. Ordering readily available remanufactured parts and components and having them installed immediately is a much more timely approach than having to wait for a part to be repaired. In addition to that, the cost of remanufactured parts can often be up to 40 percent less than a new part with no drop-off in quality compared to new components.

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Komatsu building AI into construction sites

Construction sites remain one of the more dangerous workplaces due to the presence of heavy machinery, uneven terrain and continuous activity. To help alleviate some of these issues, Komatsu, one of […]

Construction sites remain one of the more dangerous workplaces due to the presence of heavy machinery, uneven terrain and continuous activity. To help alleviate some of these issues, Komatsu, one of the world’s leading manufacturers of construction and mining equipment, is bringing artificial intelligence (AI) to the work site. The company is taking the next step in its SmartConstruction initiative to improve worker’s safety along with increasing productivity.

To achieve these improvements, Komatsu has partnered with Nvidia to leverage their AI technologies in this new environment. Nvidia is well-known for its medical, robotics and automotive partnerships. However, the construction industry brings a new set of challenges for the tech company with its constantly changing terrain and heavy machine capabilities. AI is central to reducing these issues.

“Modern AI turns out to be a very flexible and adaptable technology that can be applied to many industries, even if the use cases are very different,” said Jesse Clayton, Nvidia Senior Manager of Product for Intelligent Machines. “You can argue that occupational safety for construction and mining is somewhat similar to automotive, but the machines and the environments behave very differently.”

The first implementation of these technologies will be in Japan. “Japan can stand to benefit from this because of workplace injury and the nation’s severe labor shortage due to its aging population,” continued Clayton. “However, construction and mining worldwide all face the same fundamental challenges in safety, efficiency and site management.”

According to a spokesperson for Komatsu, the company will expand these technologies to other markets based on their experience with this initial deployment.

Komatsu will utilize the Nvidia Jetson platform for AI computing. Jetson works with Nvidia cloud technology to power a 360-degree view of a Komatsu construction site. The credit-card sized platform will be able to identify people and machines nearby to prevent collisions and accidents. Cameras in the Komatsu machines provide real-time data to update the driver on any rapidly changing operating condition—one of the key challenges of implementing this technology.

In addition to the platform technology, SkyCatch will provide drones to gather and map 3D images for visualizing the terrain. OPTiM, an IoT management-software company, will provide an application to identify individuals and machinery collected from the surveillance cameras. Both of these companies are members of Nvidia’s Inception Program for AI startups.

“We’ll start integrating Nvidia GPUs into our construction sites,” said Yuichi Iwamoto, senior executive officer, chief technology officer at Komatsu. “By leveraging Nvidia’s experience in image processing, virtualization and AI, we can further transform construction areas into jobsites of the future.”

Komatsu is championing these new technologies as the next step in its SmartConstruction initiative for improved worksite safety and efficiency. The initiative encourages development of technologies that will improve worker safety along with improving operational efficiencies. Facets of the program include intelligent machine products, intelligent training services, worksite data solutions and jobsite setup services.

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Top 10 world’s construction equipment manufacturers

Here are the world’s top ten construction equipment manufacturers. They build heavy-duty automobiles, specifically designed for implementing construction tasks, most commonly equipment concerning earthwork operations Caterpillar (USA) Caterpillar Inc is an American […]

Here are the world’s top ten construction equipment manufacturers. They build heavy-duty automobiles, specifically designed for implementing construction tasks, most commonly equipment concerning earthwork operations

Caterpillar (USA)

Caterpillar Inc is an American corporation which designs, develops, engineers, manufactures, markets and sells machinery, engines, financial products and insurance to customers via a worldwide dealer network. Caterpillar is a leading manufacturer of construction and mining equipment, diesel and natural gas engines, industrial gas turbines and diesel-electric locomotives. Caterpillar’s headquarters are situated in Peoria, Illinois; it announced in January 2017 that it would move its head office to Chicago.

Komatsu (Japan)

Komatsu Ltd is a Japanese multinational corporation that manufactures construction, mining, and military equipment, as well as industrial equipment like press machines, lasers and thermoelectric generators. Its headquarters are in Minato, Tokyo, Japan. The corporation was established in 1921. Worldwide, the Komatsu Group consists of Komatsu Ltd. and 182 other companies. Komatsu is the second major manufacturers of construction equipment and mining equipment after Tata Hitachi Construction Machinery.

Volvo Construction Equipment (Sweden)

Volvo CE – is a key international company that develops, manufactures and markets equipment for construction and related industries. It is an auxiliary and business region of the Volvo Group. Volvo CE’s products consist of a variety of wheel loaders, hydraulic excavators, articulated haulers, motor graders, soil and asphalt compactors, pavers, backhoe loaders, skid steers and milling machines. Volvo CE headquarters are situated in Brussels, Belgium

Hitachi Construction Equipment (Japan)

Hitachi Construction Machinery Co. Ltd. is a construction equipment company in Japan, and a Hitachi Group company. It is a first-class company, providing both small and large-scale equipment to clients throughout the world for a varied range of tasks. HCA ensures its equipment is of the uppermost caliber, delivering superior productivity and durability, with minimal operating costs.

HCA has products to handle all tasks, including digging, loading, carrying, breaking, grabbing, cutting, crushing, and screening. Clients from metropolitan construction workers to big mining companies rely on HCA’s industry-leading products and reputable servicing and parts in order to achieve optimum productivity and economy.

Liebherr (Germany)

The Liebherr Group is a large equipment manufacturer based in Switzerland. It has over 100 companies structured into ten Divisions: Earthmoving, Mining, Mobile Cranes, Tower Cranes, Concrete Technology, Maritime Cranes, Aerospace and Transportation Systems, Machine Tools and Automation Systems, Domestic Appliances, and Components. It has a worldwide workforce of over 41,000, with 8.8 billion Euros in revenue for 2014. By 2007, it was the world’s largest crane company.

Liebherr presently has the world’s most powerful and tallest crawler crane in LR 13000. It is capable of lifting 3000 tones and has a maximum pulley height of 248 meters. This is realized with the attachment of an additional 126m-long lattice jib to the 120m main boom. The height of the crawler framework is an extra 2m, which offers the lattice structure a total height of 248m. The utmost hoisting height is 245m and the total ballast used is 1900 tons, as well as 1500 tons of derrick ballast.

According to Mr. Carsten Grohmann the Regional Sales Manager, their equipment fulfill the highest quality standards and relevant international norms. “Besides, we offer an efficient after sales service all over the world. Our products have very low maintenance and production costs and high residual value. They are recognized worldwide as reliable and long lasting,” he adds.

Sany (China)

Sany is a Chinese multinational heavy machinery manufacturing company headquartered in Changsha, Hunan Province. It is the sixth-biggest heavy equipment manufacturer in the world.

Zoomlion (China)

Zoomlion is a Chinese producer of construction machinery and sanitation equipment, Its headquarters are in the Zoomlion Science Park in Changsha, Hunan.

Zoomlion is world’s sixth largest and China’s major construction machinery enterprise. “In 2008, Zoomlion acquired CIFA, the world’s third largest concrete machinery manufacturer, which was the largest ever European acquisition by a Chinese company at the time

Terex (USA)

Terex Corporation is an American worldwide manufacturers of lifting and material handling solutions for a variety of industries, including construction, infrastructure, quarrying, recycling, energy, mining, shipping, transportation, refining and utilities. The company’s main trade segments include aerial work platforms, construction, cranes, material handling & port solutions and materials processing.

Doosan Infracore (South Korea)

Doosan Infracore is an international company that produces various sizes of excavators, loaders and diesel engines, ranging from compact to large-size machinery. Doosan Infracore is up-and-coming as one of the globe’s top-tier engine manufacturers based on its diverse lineup of multi-purpose products, which can meet tougher environmental regulations in the world.

John Deere (USA)

Deere & Company is a USA company that are main manufacturers of  agricultural, construction, and forestry machinery, diesel engines, drive-trains (axles, transmissions, gearboxes) used in heavy equipment, and lawn care equipment.

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Ten Tips for Buying a New Excavator

Here is a list of ten important considerations for buying a new excavator. When it comes to purchasing a new excavator, there are many important items to consider. Understanding the […]

Here is a list of ten important considerations for buying a new excavator.

When it comes to purchasing a new excavator, there are many important items to consider. Understanding the right specs and knowing what to look for will have the greatest impact on the productivity of your business. Here is a list of ten important considerations for buying a new excavator.

1. Operating weight/size, Application

It’s important to match the right size machine to the tasks at hand. Crawler excavators are generally grouped into three size-classes; compact/mini (0 – 6 metric tons; or <13,227 pounds), mid-size (6 – 10 metric tons; or 13,227 – 22,046 pounds) and standard/full-size (10 – 90 metric tons; or 22,046 – 198,416 pounds). Knowing your applications, the spec requirements for the job (bucket capacity, etc.) and what size machine you need is the first step towards making a buying decision.

2. Hydraulics

Consider the attachments you plan on working with, and understand the hydraulic flows required for each. Equipping your excavator with the right attachments will give you versatility to get the most out of your investment. Also, be sure to ask about the machine’s coupler options. This will often help determine the scope and variety of attachments you can use with the machine.

As it pertains to how the central hydraulic system boosts machine performance, D Series excavators feature the CASE Intelligent Hydraulic System (CIHS), a larger control valve and new solenoid valves, which help boost breakout force, increase lifting strength and improve responsiveness, enabling the machine to work faster throughout the work cycle. The D Series also comes standard with a Free-Swing feature that allows the carriage to spin freely while operating the boom and arm, providing improved control when craning, pipe laying or lifting offset loads.

3. Transportation/Access

When purchasing a new machine, transportation is always an important consideration. Depending on your current fleet, a larger trailer may be needed to haul your new excavator. You may also need to consider traveling on weight-limited roads bridges, as well as the necessary certification for your drivers.

Buying the right sized excavator for your application and region is critical, as there are ancillary transportation and owning/operating costs that go with the purchase of a new machine that vary from state to state.

4. Controls

Consider the needs of the operator when purchasing a new excavator. Most operators have a strong preference between ISO or SAE control patterns. To make things easier, many new excavator models—including the CASE D Series—offer an easy pattern control selector that allows the operator to adjust the machine to their preference.

5. Operator Comfort and Ergonomics

When you’re in the cab of an excavator for ten hours a day, comfort and ergonomics are critical for productivity. Look for features in the cab that will keep your operators comfortable and focused on the job.

The CASE D Series features best-in-class cab space, as well as an optional fully adjustable large heated air-ride seat with independently adjustable arm rests, adjustable lumbar system and 65-degree tilt-back, adjustable foot pedals, a Bluetooth stereo and a climate control system that responds to sunlight.

6. Tracks and undercarriage

It’s important to understand the many track options available to you, as well as the impact that they can have on the productivity of the machine. Most compact excavators will come standard with rubber tracks, which are designed to minimize surface damage during travel and operation in the residential, street and in-building applications that they are often used. Rubber tracks wear out more quickly than steel, so there are a large variety of aftermarket track types available with varying widths and tread depth.

Mid and full-sized excavators are typically equipped with steel tracks, and also come in varying sizes, widths and depths. When discussing track options with your equipment dealer, be sure to consider the ground conditions and the type of applications in which you intend to utilize the machine. Wider tracks with deep grousers offer the most traction for heavy digging in softer ground conditions.

Also, be sure to look for a rugged undercarriage with features that will make it easy to keep clean and maintain. The undercarriages on the CASE D Series excavators are larger than their predecessors, providing increased durability, and an innovative one-side slope designed track covers ensures there is less material build-up between the frame and the track chain. This design also allows material to easily slide outward in one direction, which saves time when cleaning the undercarriage.

7. Tier 4 solutions

Today’s Tier 4 Final excavators are equipped with a variety of engine types and after-treatment technologies, and knowing the differences, as well as the impact that they can have on your operation, is essential when making a purchasing decision.

CASE has adopted Selective Catalytic Reduction (SCR) technology for use in its D Series excavators. SCR lowers harmful emissions through a simple chemical reaction by introducing Diesel Exhaust Fluid (DEF) into the exhaust stream. These systems do not require any kind of regeneration, filter replacement or other maintenance practices found in other systems. SCR allows the engine to run at peak performance, which provides faster throttle response while also maintaining lower temperatures and greater fuel efficiency over other solutions. It also helps the engine run at lower temperatures, which ultimately extends the service life of engine components.

Ask your equipment dealer about the benefits and maintenance procedures associated with the different types of Tier 4 Final engines.

8. Additional features

Today’s excavators are loaded with additional features, so make sure that you are aware of what’s available to you when you decide to make a purchase. Features like selectable power modes and auto-idle can have a real impact on fuel savings and overall operating costs.

Look for available options like LED lighting kits and rear and side-view camera packages. It’s also important to take a look at where the access points are for daily maintenance procedures—CASE D Series excavators are designed to provide easy ground access to service ports and other key service items.

Finally, consider advanced technologies like telematics and machine control. Some manufacturers—CASE included—now offer telematics hardware standard from the factory on their new models. If you’re interested in a machine control system, it will be more cost-effective to have it installed as part of the initial purchase as opposed to taking the machine out of service for installation at a later date.

9. Choosing the right dealer

Choosing a dealer should be a long-term commitment. Your dealer is who you will rely upon throughout the lifetime of your equipment when you need parts, service and repairs.

Look for a knowledgeable dealer with a robust service department, who has partnered with manufacturers that have reliable parts distribution networks. The best manufacturers provide regular training for their dealer technicians and sales staff, and have training resources available at all times.

10. Maintenance contracts/Warranties

When you’re ready to purchase your new excavator, be sure to talk to your dealer about machine warranties and available extended maintenance contracts. When it comes to purchasing new equipment, protecting your investment is one of the most important considerations. Most manufacturers offer standard warranties on their equipment, but a premium service/maintenance program will make a significant impact on your overall cost of ownership. All D Series excavators come standard with CASE ProCare—the most complete maintenance and heavy machine support in the industry—which includes a 3-year/3,000-hr full machine factory

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10 Tips for Maintaining Excavators

Compact excavators have evolved dramatically in the past 10 years. Enhanced systems and capabilities have allowed them to become workhorses on jobsites, spending long days trenching, grading, clearing and loading. […]

Compact excavators have evolved dramatically in the past 10 years. Enhanced systems and capabilities have allowed them to become workhorses on jobsites, spending long days trenching, grading, clearing and loading.

With increased demands, Tom Connor, Bobcat excavator product specialist, says the best way for owners and operators to protect assets and keep them working at optimum levels is diligence in following your manufacturer’s routine maintenance schedule.

Here are 10 compact excavator maintenance tips from Bobcat to maximize your uptime and safety.

1. Manufacturer manuals
One of your first tasks should be to review a machine’s operation and maintenance manual to become familiar with the machine’s safety features, instrumentation, controls, service schedules and maintenance points. Typically delivered and stored in an excavator’s cab, the operation and maintenance manual contains the official manufacturer recommendations. If you misplace your supplied copies, your authorized dealer can assist with ordering replacements.

2.    Fluids and lubricants
An effective maintenance regimen starts with a daily check of fluids, including coolant, hydraulic fluid and engine oil. If any of these levels are low, be sure to refill with the manufacturer’s recommended type of fluid, paying particular attention to classifications, as well as viscosities for the operating environment. It’s also important to keep these areas dirt free and use clean rags while checking levels to avoid contaminants.

A machine system that’s experienced some of the most significant change is engines. Today’s compact excavators are equipped with various levels of emissions-compliant engines that may have unique lubrication requirements. Manufacturers are matching oils to their advanced engines to ensure the proper operation of exhaust after-treatment systems.

In addition to engines, it’s also important to regularly lubricate the machine at recommended intervals, taking into consideration the application and temperatures the machine will be working in. Manufacturers typically recommend the use of a quality lithium-based multipurpose grease to lubricate all key pivot points, including cylinders, booms, blades, buckets, arms and slew bearing components.

3.    Filters
There are multiple filters on a compact excavator for the fuel, engine, air and hydraulic systems, and each may have different service intervals. When dirty or completely clogged, a filter can directly impact performance and compromise sensitive components. The majority of industry excavators have air filter restriction indicators designed for the purpose of alerting operators to maintenance needs. To avoid system contamination, it’s critical not to remove the filter until the required time.

4.    Fuel
Most manufacturers specify the use of clean, high-quality No. 2 or No. 1 grade diesel fuel. Operators with machines that routinely operate in colder climates may prefer the option of specially formulated blends designed to prevent gelling. At a minimum, ultra-low sulfur diesel fuel must be used in these machines to reduce exhaust emission levels. Depending on jobsite conditions, owners and operators need to also be aware of water separation that can occur in a fuel filter as a result of a lower quality fuel supply.

5.    Undercarriage
Perhaps the most obvious wear item on the excavator undercarriage is the track. The majority of compact excavators use rubber tracks and the life expectancy of the track is largely dependent upon the environment they are subjected to and the user’s operating habits. Tracks should be examined on a daily basis to look for cuts, tears or areas that expose the steel imbeds. Any perforations could allow moisture or contamination to enter the track.

The most important undercarriage interval item to monitor is track tensioning. A loose track is likely to de-track and will be detrimental to its useful life. Your operation and maintenance manual will indicate ideal track tension ranges and the correct way to position the excavator for making adjustments.

While other undercarriage components may not need a daily inspection, regular monitoring of the components like idlers, rollers and sprockets can help identify potential problems. Accelerated wear on the sprocket is not common; however, it should still be checked periodically by examining the teeth. A good sprocket tooth has a rounded end, while a worn tooth is more pointed. This is especially important to check when installing a new set of tracks.

6.    Cooling system
An effective cooling system relies on adequate airflow and appropriate coolant level. If either is lacking, it can lose performance, cause an overheat condition — or worse yet — accelerate engine damage. Proper cooling system maintenance includes checking the airflow through the system and checking coolant hoses for leaks. The radiator, oil cooler and condenser can be cleaned by applying low pressure air or water, but use care not to damage the radiator’s fins.

7.    Electrical system
The electrical system of most compact excavators uses a 12-volt battery and fuses for the purpose of protecting this system in the event of an electrical overload. Always replace failed fuses with like kind and amperage rating. Battery cables should be tight and clean. Inspect for corrosion on the cable ends and the battery terminals. Prevention can typically be remedied with an appropriate dielectric grease.

8.    Attachments and quick-tach mounting mechanism
Visual checks of attachment components such as cutting edges, shanks, teeth and hoses on hydraulically powered attachments can help determine if wear is developing or damage has occurred in tough, rigorous applications. Replace any worn or damaged pins or teeth to maintain productivity.

9.    Instrumentation
Some compact excavators are equipped with on-board instrumentation systems with controllers that perform multiple maintenance-oriented functions. If the need arises, these systems can log and display machine vitals like fluid temperatures and coolant levels. These controllers can also warn operators when system parameters are out of synch, and they’re engineered to shut down the machine to prevent catastrophic damage if an operator does not heed warning messages.

10. Safety
Despite their compact size, excavators are rugged and versatile in a wide variety of conditions, and often work in challenging off-highway and rough terrain applications. Before starting the excavator for the first time, operators should understand what each and every lever and control does and how to operate the machine safely. In fact, many manufacturers also supply an operator handbook that is commonly fastened to an area in the cab for quick reference, and is often accompanied by additional operator and service training materials from an authorized dealer. The machine-specific AEM Safety Manual is another source of valuable information.

Operators should always follow manufacturer instructions for maintaining ROPS /TOPS cab structures and make sure their mounting hardware is secure. Other safety items like seat belts should be properly tensioned and in good working condition. Control console lockout systems should be functioning. Safety decals should be intact and legible, and all work lighting should be operational and visible.

Your compact excavator can be one of your most important investments. With their increased versatility and proper maintenance, they can generate revenue more hours of the day and more days of the year. By making a strong commitment to a manufacturer’s routine maintenance plan, you can add more useful life to your machine.

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Evaluate criteria to decide between conventional & reduced-tail-swing crawler excavators

Most contractors would agree that crawler excavators are a staple product in any construction company’s fleet. These machines regularly handle the heavy digging, lifting and loading in a variety of […]

Most contractors would agree that crawler excavators are a staple product in any construction company’s fleet. These machines regularly handle the heavy digging, lifting and loading in a variety of construction applications. There are two tail-swing types: conventional tail swing and reduced tail swing. So which one is best for you? There are several key factors that may influence your choice between conventional-tail-swing crawler excavators and reduced-tail-swing models. You may be able to improve your jobsite productivity by closely evaluating your typical jobsite conditions and implementing a reduced-tail-swing machine into your construction equipment fleet.

The most common excavator type is a crawler excavator with a conventional-tail-swing configuration. Conventional-tail-swing excavators have a rear counterweight profile that extends beyond the machine’s steel tracks when the house rotates, optimizing performance in digging, loading and lifting applications. However, some manufacturers offer excavators with a shorter/reduced tail swing to work on confined jobsites without sacrificing performance. A reduced-tail-swing excavator configuration is ideal for working in limited or restricted spaces, since the machine’s counterweight profile typically extends inches, rather than feet, beyond the machine’s tracks. Before selecting a conventional or reduced-tail-swing excavator, you should consider the following: typical jobsites, key machine specifications, attachments, machine efficiencies and maintenance considerations.

Jobsite Location

Excavators are routinely operated on a variety of small- and large-scale construction projects. It is important to properly match your machine to its work to maximize productivity. Conventional-tail-swing excavators are most often operated in excavating, grading and site development, where space constraints are not a concern. They are also commonly used on infrastructure commercial building site projects to load material into trucks. However, it is not always possible to put a conventional-tail-swing excavator on every jobsite. In many cases, space is limited and your crews and equipment are maneuvering around several other pieces of equipment or permanent structures. For these reasons, excavators designed with a reduced-tail-swing configuration are gaining popularity. Reduced-tail-swing excavators are used primarily in congested urban areas, such as road and bridge construction projects, where traditional excavators cannot fit as easily. For example, the reduced-tail-swing radius may allow excavator operators to work in one lane of a street or highway without blocking traffic in the adjacent lane. Reduced-tail-swing excavators are ideal when digging and backfilling trenches in a confined area.

The trend with reduced-tail-swing excavators is on the smaller side of the crawler excavator spectrum, typically between the 14- and 30-metric-ton size class. The smaller stature, coupled with reduced tail overhang, creates a popular combination for both transporting the excavator and operating it. Available as an option for some reduced-tail-swing models, the crawler excavators may be equipped with rubber track pads. This option may be popular if you are working on established surfaces to minimize ground disturbance, especially when compared with traditional steel tracks on crawler models. It may also save you and your crew time because you may not need to lay down plywood or other types of mats to minimize surface damage.
Dozer blades are another option available for some smaller crawler excavators. Simplify backfilling and use your excavator to fill, smooth and level trenches more efficiently. A smooth cutting edge on the excavator’s bucket allows you to clean right up to the edge of the dozer blade, reducing further cleanup.

In addition, the design of the dozer blade is suitable for moderate site grading, reducing the need for other equipment to complete the task.

Key Specifications

You should also review the machine’s specifications and determine what configuration will meet your expectations. It can be difficult to narrow down the specifications of conventional and reduced-tail-swing excavators, but reviewing the machine’s specifications is as fundamental to a purchase as a hands-on demonstration. Core excavator specifications that should be taken into consideration include:

  • Arm breakout force
  • Engine horsepower
  • Hydraulic flow
  • Lifting capacity
  • Maximum digging depth
  • Maximum loading height
  • Maximum reach, ground level
  • Operating weight

Attachment Versatility

You may think conventional-tail-swing excavators are more versatile than reduced-tail-swing models. However, reduced-tail-swing excavators can be just as versatile when paired with the right attachments. In addition to standard buckets, three of the most popular attachments are quick couplers, hydraulic clamps and hydraulic breakers, which offer a low initial investment with a high rate of return. For example, clamps enable precise movement and positioning and help secure material for superior loading and material-handling applications. When not in use, clamps can be retracted, making the attachment excellent for demolition, site preparation and land-clearing applications, as well as when the excavator operator is using a lifting mode to lift and place materials.

Machine Performance

Many excavator manufacturers continue to refine their designs and improve the optimization between the engine and hydraulic system for greater efficiencies and improved fuel economy. Some machines, both conventional and reduced tail swing, are designed with variable-speed-control technologies to reduce engine rpm during low workload requirements. This reduces the total energy required to perform a task and can measurably improve fuel efficiency. With pump torque control, your operators can effectively match a machine’s hydraulic pump torque and engine response to the task, preventing engine overload and excess fuel consumption.

Maintenance Considerations

Both conventional and reduced-tail-swing crawler excavators have similar maintenance considerations, especially when used in construction applications.

Excavator owners should closely follow the maintenance interval schedule provided by the manufacturer in its operation and maintenance manual. As a general guideline, it is a good idea to clean your excavator on a regular basis, especially when performing service or maintenance procedures. Perform daily lubrication duties in addition to other key maintenance intervals recommended by manufacturers. It is also important to routinely complete a full undercarriage inspection for excessive or uneven wear. The tracks should also be inspected to see if any components look out of place. If so, this could indicate a loose trackpad or a broken track pin. Rollers, idlers and drives should also be inspected for oil leakage. Oil leaks could indicate a failed seal, which could lead to a major failure in the rollers, idler or drive motor.

The best method for comparing conventional-tail-swing and reduced-tail-swing excavators is to demo them side by side in your specific application. You should operate the two types of excavators in real-life applications, so you can better assess which tail-swing configuration will have the most benefit on your jobsite.

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