How to improve skid steer loader productivity
These days most of us just can’t afford for our skid-steer loader to break down, so it pays to create and follow a simple maintenance plan to stay ahead of costly repairs and downtime, writes Bobcat's Mike Fitzgerald.
Commit to three maintenance habits to significantly extend the life of your skid-steer loader: a routine maintenance schedule, advanced fluids knowledge and seasonal equipment needs.
Routine maintenance schedule
If you perform most of your own skid-steer loader maintenance, make time for routine visual inspections of the machine and its components. Inspect these three areas:
Check fluid levels every day.
Most manufacturers’ operation and maintenance manuals and some engine compartment decals provide instruction on daily fluid-level checks for engine oil, hydraulic oil and coolants.
Measurable fluid loss may indicate loose hoses, fittings or other potential damage.
The video below shows how to visually inspect and service your loader.
Inspect these at least once a month.
All filters and fluids should be changed at scheduled intervals. Fluids should be monitored to see if they are running at proper temperatures as running them at elevated temperatures may require more frequent replacement.
Also note that as oils and coolants age, their additives break down and could impact performance.
Grease equipment parts like pins and bushings at the manufacturer’s specified interval to minimise wear on pivot points.
The video below demonstrates how to grease your skid-steer loader.
Advanced fluids knowledge
Today’s skid-steer loader engines burn cleaner and run hotter. As the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) engine emissions standards begin to effect the compact equipment industry worldwide, you must be more knowledgeable about fuel and oil selection.
Tier 4 engines require ultra-low-sulfur diesel that burns cleaner and helps to reduce engine emissions. CJ-4 oil is required for these engines as it is formulated to reduce ash. Additional filters on storage and transfer tanks will also help ensure that you’re using clean fluids.
Plan to take some special steps in your fluid maintenance plan depending on the time of year. Follow these tips:
- Select engine oil viscosity to match the expected temperature range.
- Frequently monitor coolant levels.
- Keep cooling components like the radiator and oil cooler clean to maximise their efficiency.
Mike Fitzgerald is a loader product specialist with Bobcat Company, a compact equipment division of Doosan Infracore Construction Equipment America. With over three decades of construction industry experience, Fitzgerald coordinates North American customer and dealer product development efforts, and conducts training on skid-steer loaders, compact track loaders and attachments. Fitzgerald’s expertise leverages his experience as an operator, mechanic and service manager. He is a former chairman of the Association of Equipment Manufacturer’s Compact Loader and Excavator Council. A current member of the Society of Automotive Engineers, Fitzgerald holds one European and two US patents.
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