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5 Profit-Draining Operator Errors and How to Spot Them

March 17th, 2021

Volvo LH Wheel Loader

Operator behavior not only impacts construction equipment health, but also the profitability of the operation. When we were designing ActiveCare Direct — our 24/7 machine monitoring service — we wanted to identify some of the most common operator errors and find a way to alert our customers before they turn into larger problems.

Here are 5 profit-draining operator errors and how to spot them, why they’re important and what they might be costing you.

1. Hot turbo shutdowns

It’s recommended that operators let their machine idle for 2 to 3 minutes prior to shutting down. If an operator repeatedly shuts down the machine without properly idling, it can eventually lead to turbocharger damage or eventual failure — typically a $1,000 to $5,000 repair, depending on the machine. With monthly reports from ActiveCare Direct, you can identify which machines are experiencing hot turbo shutdown and how often. This gives you the opportunity to train operators and avoid potentially costly repairs.

2. High-speed shifts on wheel loaders

Operators should always bring the machine to a complete stop before shifting from reverse to forward (or vice versa). Shifting at high speeds over a long period of time can lead to eventual driveline failure. ActiveCare Direct flags instances of high-speed shifts on individual machines, giving you an opportunity to train operators before this bad habit leads to a potential transmission replacement costing upwards of $20,000.

3. Misuse of excavator work modes

Many operators have a tendency to run in the highest work mode because they may assume it gives them the highest productivity. Often, however, they could be achieving the same level of productivity in a lower work mode and burning 50 percent less fuel. We designed ActiveCare Direct to automatically flag any excavator that runs in Heavy (H) Mode more than 80 percent of the time. By switching to a lower work mode, you could be saving upwards of $10,000 per year, per excavator in fuel costs, assuming 1,500-hour-per-year usage.

4. Cycles with overloaded haulers

Overloading haul trucks has a number of downsides that can outweigh the increased amount of material moved, from dragline fatigue, damage to the haul road and shortening of tire life (which can be one of the most expensive replacement parts on a truck) to increased fuel consumption. ActiveCare Direct lets you know how many cycles your fleet has run with overloaded haulers — you can also see a breakout by machine to know which operators might need some additional training.

5. Excavator travel time

Excessive excavator travel time can cost you a lot of money, as it’s the number one cause of undercarriage wear. It puts a lot of stress on the tracks, sprockets and idlers, and these repairs can represent more than half of your machine maintenance costs. This wear can also lead to reduced resale values or extra charges at the end of your lease. Too much travel time could also indicate a problem with your site’s setup. ActiveCare Direct monitors excavator travel time across the entire fleet and by individual machine. It can help you determine if you need a higher number of smaller excavators to manage the workload or if your excavating/loading locations and/or haul routes aren’t configured efficiently.

Contact our Product Support experts to see how machine misuse can be easily spotted and corrected.