The best way to start the day — other than with a quick brew — is by inspecting your construction equipment to make sure it is ready to get to work. If you don’t, you risk premature equipment failure and project delays. Here Mark Mulligan, Product Manager at exclusive Caterpillar® distributor Finning UK and Ireland, discusses best practice for daily maintenance for the Cat® mini excavator range.
When inspecting your mini excavator, the place to start is not with the machine itself, but with the operation and maintenance manual as this incorporates all recommended procedures in an easy-to-follow format, making it a quicker process. But, for those without a manual to hand, here is a quick run through of the best practices for a Cat mini excavator.
Walkaround best practices
Starting at the front of the machine, operators should first inspect the attachment for any deterioration caused by abrasive or corrosive elements, as well as checking for possible damage from trying to move weights that exceed its load limit. Any damage found could point to an improper application of the attachment, or an incorrect choice of attachment for the material being worked.
Inspection of the hydraulic cylinders is next. Operators need to take time to identify any damage or excessive wear, with specific focus on the cylinder rods and seals — a scored, rough or bent rod will damage the seals and allow for leaks. If operators find a leak but the rod does not appear to be damaged, it may be that the seal is completely worn or broken and needs swapping out. This is also a good time to ensure that the linkage, boom pins and slew bearing on the arm of the excavator are adequately greased.
Moving to the main bulk of the machine, operators should next check the tracks and undercarriage, looking for cracked, broken and missing items along with foreign items that may have attached themselves to the machine. Check to ensure the steel which is encased in the rubber track is connecting with the sprocket assembly. Finally, inspect the rubber tracks for possible layering damage, commonly referred to as delamination.
Now is also a good time to inspect the final drives for any leaks, as well as opening the side door and checking the radiator, removing any debris from the fans so that excess heat is being drawn from the engine in all conditions.
Moving round to the back of the excavator, the operator can access the engine area and check both engine oil and coolant levels, topping up as required. Before shutting the engine compartment, check the engine’s air filter to remove any impurities. This will also allow you to remove any debris in the main engine compartment and fix any leaks that may be apparent.
Finally, the cab structure should be checked all around the machine for any loose bolts or broken bulbs and lenses. This also includes checking the lenses on the gauges inside the operator cab, as well as looking for broken indicator lights or switches, of which replacements can be bought with ease from the Cat Parts website.
To make the process easier, Cat Inspect, an easy-to-use inspection tool that works on smartphones and tablets, keeps your fleet’s daily inspection in one place. Integrating with other Cat data systems, the app helps to extend the life of your machine and increase productivity in the field. The app includes machine lists showing available inspections and offering the ability to create custom checklists, allowing the operator to add photos and videos for additional insights. Cat Inspect is a one-stop shop to keep your inspection data organised. There is also the option to send that data onto Finning for analysis ensuring your operation keeps running, and your profit keeps growing.
Though the Cat mini excavator range is renowned as the gold standard for performance and reliability, these benefits can only be maintained through a thorough daily inspection. A quick walk round your machine every morning can deliver savings over time as machines will last longer, use less fuel and cause fewer problems during operations — leaving time for that nice uninterrupted brew.