5 Tips for Managing Heavy Equipment Fluids

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Your business’s heavy equipment is an investment that works hard to deliver the results your clients need. Treating it well can keep it operating reliably and efficiently.  

Diesel-powered heavy equipment is full of fluids that help it run properly. Fuel, oil, hydraulic fluid, coolant and other liquids are effectively the lifeblood of your machinery, so diligently managing and maintaining them should be a top priority for you and your operators.

We’re here to make the process simple with five tips for managing heavy equipment fluids. Implementing these tips can help you extend the life of your equipment, reduce maintenance costs and keep your site running smoothly. 

What Fluids Are in Heavy Equipment?

Heavy equipment requires several types of fluid to perform well. Each one serves an integral purpose in the operation of the machine. For diesel-powered heavy machinery, you’ll need to manage the following fluids carefully:

  • Diesel fuel: Diesel fuel powers your equipment and keeps it running. 
  • Diesel exhaust fluid (DEF): DEF reduces the amount of air pollution a diesel engine creates. 
  • Engine and transmission oil: These oils lubricate the moving parts in heavy equipment engines to reduce friction and minimize power loss. 
  • Hydraulic fluid: Hydraulic fluid serves as a medium for energy transfer or power transmission. It’s also a lubricant and sealant that can cool equipment and flush out contaminants. 
  • Coolant: Coolant protects your equipment from rust, corrosion, freezing and cavitation. 

While these are the primary fluids you’ll find in heavy equipment, depending on the machine, there may be others you’ll need to manage. For example, certain smaller pieces of heavy equipment also use power steering and brake fluid.  

Tips for Managing Heavy Equipment Fluids

Incorporate the following fluid management tips into your heavy equipment maintenance plan to enjoy optimal use of your investments. 

1. Keep the Manual Handy

It’s always a good idea to read and reference the manuals that come with your heavy equipment. Keep them close by, preferably on the machine, so operators can refer to them when they need a refresher on fluid management. 

The manual provides a detailed explanation of the machine’s maintenance needs and recommended fluid intervals, so you’ll know how often you should change the oil in your heavy equipment. It will also list manufacturer-recommended fluids to use, eliminating guesswork. 

Encourage your equipment operators to follow the manual’s safety guidelines and familiarize themselves with instructional decals. Often, manufacturers place decals displaying service interval information directly on the machine for easy referral.   

Finally, take advantage of your local equipment dealer’s heavy machinery maintenance training. Experienced technicians conduct these trainings to teach you and your team the ins and outs of maintaining equipment fluids. 

2. Handle Fluids Properly

It’s crucial to keep water, dust and debris out of the tanks that store heavy equipment fluid. These contaminants can break down the fluids’ chemical structures and result in pump, filter or injector issues. Handle and store your equipment fluids in a designated fluid containment zone to maintain a high level of cleanliness. 

Following are a few best practices for handling and storing heavy equipment fluids:

  • Certain fluids that enter a storage tank should pass through a dispensing filter. Check with your fluid manufacturers to determine which ones require a filter and install them on your tanks as needed.
  • Keep fluid containers tightly sealed in a dry area with good ventilation.
  • Make sure to reseal containers after use and store them upright to avoid leakage.
  • Always follow the precautions and safe handling procedures on the fluid label.
  • Wear protective equipment when handling fluids to shield your skin and keep components clean.

Storing DEF requires a bit of extra diligence. Be careful to avoid contaminating it with dirt and dust in earthwork applications. These particles can degrade your selective catalytic reduction system and cause you to use more DEF than necessary. 

Filling the DEF tank directly from the DEF container is best, but if you must use a funnel or intermediate container, make sure they’re clean and only used for DEF. 

If you need more information, your local equipment dealer can teach you how best to handle and store DEF to ensure it stays pure.

3. Choose Efficient Fluid Delivery

Servicing your heavy machinery with pure, debris-free fluids is essential to avoid damaging the equipment and its components, which will inevitably cause equipment downtime, missed opportunity and a shortened life span.

For efficient fluid delivery, consider partnering with a fluid distributor that offers clean mobile fluid services. Mobile fluid distributors meet your machinery in the field with the fluids needed to keep your operation running smoothly. They take special care to ensure the environment is clean and contaminant-free so your machine components stay healthy. 

4. Develop a Proactive Maintenance Program

Being proactive about fluid management is the best way to keep your machinery in good repair. A preventative maintenance program implemented by trained maintenance technicians can help you detect minor equipment concerns before they become major problems. 

Have a professional diesel fuel cleaning and inspection service check your fluid storage tanks for water, dirt, debris and other contaminants every six months or as needed. If inspectors find sizable amounts of any of these pollutants, they’ll likely empty and clean the entire vessel so you can start over with a fresh, clean tank. 

Keeping a preventative maintenance log can help you and your operators monitor supply tanks. These logs should include details such as service history, filter changes and particle counts.

5. Conduct Fluid Analysis

Fluid analysis is another way to monitor your machinery to help you stay on top of fluid conditions. Some equipment manufacturers provide fluid analysis programs that test fuel, oil and coolant samples for the presence of pollutants. The results can help you determine the overall viability of the fluids. 

As the various components in your equipment wear down, they may release microscopic metal particles into the fluids that help operate the machine. Fluid analysis kits can determine which metals are in the fluids and in what concentration. This information can indicate the remaining life of each component, allowing you to anticipate when service may be necessary.

Fluid analysis can help you:

  • Avoid equipment failure
  • Track what’s happening inside the machine
  • Shorten repair times
  • Optimize oil change intervals
  • Reduce owning and operating costs

Come to Gregory Poole with All Your Heavy Equipment Needs

Gregory Poole is eastern North Carolina’s one-stop shop for heavy equipment needs. We’re the region’s exclusive Cat construction equipment dealer, offering new and used equipment sales, rentals, and parts and services for a wide range of industries, including the following:

  • Construction
  • Forestry
  • Marine Power
  • Electric Power Generation

Contact Gregory Poole today to learn more about our heavy equipment services.