Essential Maintenance Practices for Prolonging the Life Span of Heavy Equipment Parts

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Heavy equipment maintenance involves measures to detect, address and prevent issues in your machinery. It can provide numerous benefits for your fleet.

  • Cost savings: Non-maintained equipment is prone to malfunctions and breakdowns. Regular maintenance helps you avoid additional repair and replacement expenses, saving time and money.
  • Safer operations: Neglected and faulty equipment can put operators at risk of incidents and injuries. Therefore, ongoing equipment upkeep is crucial for safety. Proper maintenance can also help you avoid lawsuits and litigation risks by creating a safer work environment for employees.
  • Longer machine life span: Routine maintenance helps minimize shutdowns and repairs, boosting your equipment’s service life.

This guide will cover some heavy equipment maintenance tips to help you reap the above benefits.

How Do You Prolong the Life Span of Equipment Parts?

Here are some essential maintenance tips to achieve optimal performance and reliability from your heavy machinery parts.

1. Add and Test Lubricants Frequently

Heavy machinery relies on a quality lubricant to function correctly. A lubricant reduces friction around moving parts, decreasing wear and tear and the risk of premature damage. It also prevents soot from accumulating within the machine’s interior.

Regularly adding and testing lubricant can do wonders for your equipment’s performance and longevity. Here are some lubrication maintenance tips to remember.

  • Examine lubricant levels frequently: Check for grease buildup on pistons or signs of excess oil. Ensure there’s no leakage around the oil seals.
  • Apply the proper amount of lubricant: Over time, adding too much oil can cause excessive grease buildup and performance issues. Too little lubricant can increase friction and wear and tear.
  • Use the correct lubricant: Different parts call for various types of grease and oil. Be sure to check the manufacturer’s guidelines and only use recommended lubricants for your machinery.
  • Have your lubricant professionally checked: A professional can diagnose any problems you may have been unaware of. They can analyze particles and contaminants in the oil, identifying which parts may be experiencing wear and degradation.

2. Keep Large Machinery Clean

Elements like seals, filters, vents and cooling fans are prone to debris buildup, like dust, grease and soot. These substances can block moving parts and damage the engine over time. The more heavy equipment parts become clogged with dirt and grime, the higher the risk of an expensive breakdown. Thoroughly cleaning your machines is a must to maintain performance.

Carefully inspect each equipment component to identify any areas with significant debris buildup. A pressure washer is usually the best tool to remove dirt, grease and other contaminants.

3. Routinely Inspect Seals

Industrial seals are critical equipment components that regulate pressure, resist part contamination and control leakage. However, seals can gradually dry out and crack, causing leaks and other performance issues. Here are a few pivotal tips for maintaining your seals.

  • Install seals carefully: Seals are fragile elements, requiring proper installation to preserve their condition and performance. When installing seals, ensure they avoid contact with sharp edges, threads or drilled holes. Also, use the correct installation tools, mounting tubes and sleeves.
  • Inspect the seals: Thoroughly inspect the hydraulic seals before assembly and each machine use. Check for cuts or scratches, which can cause leaks. A replacement is in order if the seals are visually worn or have leaks.
  • Lubricate periodically: As we discussed earlier, lubrication is vital to manage abrasion and friction. Equipment tends to operate better with lubricated seals. The parts often last longer since there’s less chafing and resistance. While some seals are susceptible to cracking, sufficient lubrication can prevent them from snapping. Seals require lubricants compatible with the fluid in the hydraulic system. Remember that while lubrication does extend a seal’s life span, you’ll still eventually need to replace the seal.

4. Regularly Inspect and Change Filters

Over time, diesel fuel in heavy equipment can accumulate insoluble particulates and sludge. These pollutants can build up in injectors and clog fuel filters, reducing engine efficiency. As a result, the machine burns more fuel and works harder to operate, potentially leading to premature part failures.

Routine filter fuel inspections and changes are crucial to avoid unnecessary shutdowns and servicing. Depending on your equipment’s surrounding climate and the fuel’s cleanliness, you should swap out your fuel filters every 200 to 250 hours. At the very least, you should replace the filter once a year.

Remember to replace your filter each time you change the hydraulic fuel. Filter screens require changing at the same time as filters.

5. Clean Breathers

Breathers are multi-tiered devices that eliminate various contaminants — like moisture and dirt — from the air entering the machine’s components. As oil levels and temperatures fluctuate, parts such as pumps, reservoirs, stumps and gearboxes essentially “breathe” when the air in the headspace contracts and expands.

Each time the equipment breathes, moisture and dirt particles enter the system, diminishing the lubricant and equipment over time. Cleaning breathers form a vacuum in the cab that sucks in contaminants. These particles can damage electronics in the cab, affecting the clutch and other elements.

Therefore, cleaning your equipment’s breathers is vital to prevent system degradation. Additionally, be sure to replace breather caps periodically, at least once annually.

6. Keep Maintenance and Repair Records

A consistent maintenance schedule can help you stay on top of equipment care and avoid costly operational issues. Rather than only performing maintenance when there’s a problem, you can factor proactive upkeep into your business’ schedule. That way, your entire team is up to date on:

  • The status of each piece of equipment.
  • The last time it received attention.
  • When it needs a round of preventive maintenance.
  • How much life it has left.

You can use the manufacturer’s recommendations to build a scheduled maintenance program. Be sure to keep detailed records of your maintenance measures. Recordkeeping can be as simple as documenting inspections, replacements and repairs on a spreadsheet or using advanced preventive maintenance software.

Maintain Your Heavy Equipment With Cat® Parts and Services From Gregory Poole

Investing in durable parts is essential for heavy equipment maintenance. In addition to our vast selection of newused and rental equipment, we have high-quality Cat® parts available at Gregory Poole Equipment Company.

Also, we offer excellent service support for Cat equipment to enhance performance and fuel efficiency. We offer service options for many industries, from mining and forestry to construction and government. Our team provides emergency repair services, responding quickly to your urgent equipment needs.

As a one-stop shop for all your heavy equipment requirements, we can deliver the solutions you need to keep your fleet reliable for years. Contact us today with any questions about our heavy equipment parts and services.