In order to maintain peak efficiency despite hot and difficult conditions, we’ve identified seven tips and maintenance checks that can ensure your construction equipment is at peak form all summer long. Use these tips to help maximize your uptime throughout the summer:
1. Run your A/C properly. One of the biggest issues we see in the summer is operators running the A/C and having the doors or windows open at the same time. If you do that, all you’re doing is putting unnecessary load on the A/C component. Volvo offers a software parameter to limit the fan speed if the door is opened, and we highly recommend this parameter is turned on to ensure reliable performance of the A/C components. In the summer, you should also do a weekly check to make sure that your A/C filters and cab intake filters are clean.
The cab ventilation system in many newer machines is designed to help maintain cab temperatures for a period of time after turning off the ignition key. In hot weather, the cab could continue to ventilate using the remaining available cooling from the surface of the A/C condenser. This is another reason not to run the A/C with the doors or windows open — dust will make this auto system less efficient.
2. Check for bird’s nests. It may sound like an odd tip, but double-check the machines in the morning for bird’s nests. Birds get into different compartments and holes in machines, and their nests can actually lead to fires if they’re not caught. Not only can this damage your equipment, but it’s also a safety issue that should be checked for. If you didn’t do a check-in spring and a nest has dried out due to summer heat, it’s even more likely to catch fire. Engine compartment cleaning intervals are noted in the operator’s manual, but circumstances like this may require special cleaning intervals.
3. Fill the fuel and DEF tanks at the end of each day. We see a lot of fuel-related and DEF-related issues during the summer months. The easiest way to solve these issues is to fill the tanks at the end of the day. If a machine is run hard throughout the day and you’re down to the last quarter or so in the tanks, both DEF or diesel, that fluid is extremely hot because of the return cycles. Summer months are more humid, and the hot fuel/fluid draws a lot of moist air through the breathers into the tanks. First off, even small amounts of water mixed in with your diesel will cause performance issues and maintenance hassles. You’ll also see more fault codes or alerts, so you’ll have to drain the fuel water separator more often. On the DEF side of it, the water can lead to DEF contamination, causing a number of future issues. Learn more about fuel efficiency services from Volvo CE today.
4. Keep your radiators clean. The easiest way to clean a radiator is with an air compressor, not with a water hose. A lot of the fine dust and debris when hit with water actually settles at the bottom of the radiator fence and can build up over time, creating an even bigger issue. Air compressors ensure the dust is blown completely out.
5. Manage your greasing intervals during hot spells. Most OEMs, including Volvo, have greasing intervals outlined in the operator manuals. It’s very important to ensure you’re following these guidelines, especially if you’re in an extremely dusty or hot application where your grease may thin out faster or be exposed to more contaminants.
6. Give machines more time to cool down. If you work in a really hot area, let your machines idle for a few extra minutes to cool and cycle down at the end of the day. The most important component — and the reason for a normal condition, two-minute idle time before shutting off the key — is the turbo charger. Turbo chargers are lubricated with engine oil and rotate at extremely high RPMs. Under heavy engine load, the RPMs could exceed 100,000. If not allowed to idle down, turbo charger shafts and bearings can be damaged because when the engine is shut off, the oil supply to the turbo charger shaft and bearings is also shut off.
7. Don’t forget to take care of yourself. When you’re sitting in a climate-controlled cab that’s comfortable, you may not realize you can still get dehydrated throughout the day. It’s important for you and your operators to drink plenty of water and fluids during the hot summer months. Don’t let a cool, comfortable cab inadvertently cause dehydration.
Manual monitoring and checks like these are beneficial for fleets of all types. For small businesses that are looking to grow, keeping up with the health of a bigger fleet can become cumbersome. That’s especially true if you have to monitor numerous fault codes by machine week to week. At that point, programs like ActiveCare Direct reduce the clutter with simpler case alerts that we send to you.
From there, you and your dealer can take action on only the critical issues to maximize your uptime. A well-managed fleet (big or small) using telematics programs like this give you a great shot at future growth and more sustained success, helping optimize how machines are managed and used to give you the best bang for your buck.
We’ve also provided some tips on how to avoid the top mistakes companies make that lead to unnecessary maintenance issues — they can help you with your uptime throughout the entire year.
Learn how to increase uptime efficiency even in the summer from the experts at Power Equipment Company.