Tips from Kobelco Australia’s Technical Manager

Kobelco’s Technical Manager Mick Skinner says you should pay particular attention to hydraulic service intervals, fuel quality and track tension in order to get the best of your machine and ensure peak performance.

1. Reduced service intervals. Your machines work hard, which causes wear and tear, especially when working in tough and dusty environments. While average intervals run to about 1000 hours on filters and 5000hrs on oil, harsh environments can bring increased wear and tear and more risk of blocked filters and contaminated hydraulic systems, so more frequent maintenance is required.

Attachments also play a role in determining service intervals and how often you should perform maintenance, attachments such as hammers produce a lot of ultra-fine metallic contamination which could block filters and infiltrate the hydraulic oil causing severe wear and damage. In addition, the hydraulic oil should be sampled frequently, especially in heavy load operation. As the oil will run at higher temperatures, the oil can break down, lose viscosity and won’t lubricate as well.

Recommended maintenance schedules and work intervals for different environments can be found in the operator’s manual for Kobelco Machines. If you have any further questions, your Kobelco dealer is always on hand.

2. Use the highest fuel quality. Today’s common rail diesel engines on large plant require ultra-clean fuel to run efficiently. Compared with older style diesel engines, today’s systems require four to five times more fuel system pressure which means componentry has a very fine contamination tolerance. 

Kobelco machines require fuel to meet ASTM D975 standard, this level will avoid filtration blocking or damaging the engine’s sensitive components. However, by the time this fuel is put into your tank it may no longer meet this standard which may require some investigation.

If you feel as though you’re getting increased fuel system troubles, it may be an issue with the fuel quality. The first step is to check your fuel water separator daily. Poor fuel storage methods are a common cause of excess water, dirt or rubbish collecting in the bowl. A quick audit of the fuel supply trail will quite often highlight the reason that your fuel is not up to standard. 

Unfortunately diesel has become a major target for thieves on job sites. This has led to owners and operators of plant refuelling their machines in the morning so that tanks remain close to empty overnight. Given the large volume of air now in the tank, the level of condensation that forms as the machine cools has increased causing far greater accumulation of water in the system.

If this turns out not to be the case and your audit is clean, you should probably talk to your fuel supplier.

3. Measure and maintain accurate track tension. Many operators eyeball their tracks when adjusting tension, but tension needs to be accurately measured with a measuring tape to ensure you avoid component damage. Over tensioning can cause increased undercarriage wear and track pins to break, while under tensioning can cause tracks to fall off and damage the machine (not to mention the hassle of reinstalling). 

Because different terrains require different tension levels, it is essential to get the right track tension by measuring the amount of sag with a measuring tape. While the exact specifications for each machine are listed in the operator’s manual, there are some general guidelines you can go by.

For rocky, hard surfaces with a lot of rubble, a tighter tension is best. It increases track grip on the surface and decreases the chance of tracks coming off. Run a looser tension in soft, sandy or muddy ground as the malleable ground material builds up in and around the rollers and idlers, increasing the tension which again increases wear and the likelihood of damage. 



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