Staying competitive in the construction industry requires meeting deadlines, reducing operational costs and maximizing equipment availability. Equipment downtime at a construction site can severely compromise project schedules and result in the loss of revenue, so it’s vital to keep vehicles and equipment operating properly.
One way to keep on track is with a preventive maintenance program, which can include scheduling engine oil-drain and greasing intervals and making sure coolants are at the proper mixture and freeze point. Regularly checking lubricants is an easy way to provide protection for engines and chassis drivetrains. Regularly scheduled maintenance intervals for lubricants can help reduce equipment ownership costs, improving equipment life and efficiency. Choosing the right lubricants and services related to the needs of your vehicles and equipment can help to make a significant impact on your bottom line.
1. Engine Oil
Using full-synthetic or synthetic-blend heavy-duty diesel engine oils can provide advanced engine protection and performance. These advanced lubricants perform well in heavy-duty diesel engines, especially in extreme temperatures, and provide protection that can help save money. They also prevent metal-to-metal contact caused by low speeds, high loads, cold starts, shock loading and extended idling — all of which can cause engine damage. Synthetic lubricants increase fuel economy and operational savings, in addition to reducing the operator’s carbon dioxide (CO2) footprint.
Daily demands on your equipment require engine oil with critical properties, such as adequate viscosity control in extreme conditions to prevent abrasive wear. For on-highway vehicles, full-synthetic and synthetic-blend engine oils can help provide enhanced fuel economy capability without compromising engine protection or durability.
The most common low viscosity diesel engine oils are 10W-30 and 5W-40, which are suitable for many modern diesel engines. They can provide the same level of protection as a 15W-40 with some important benefits. These 10W-30 and 5W-40 oils flow through engines quicker on cold start-ups, causing less friction to be generated and preventing unnecessary engine wear.
On-site conditions are often unpredictable, and this can have a significant impact on pins and bushings, as well as bearings. To protect components and keep them moving as they should, a high-quality grease that can maintain performance even in the harshest environment is required. It is important to consider a range of greases that can deliver a reliable level of performance, mechanical stability to avoid breakdowns, oxidation stability for system efficiency and water washout resistance for corrosion protection. Always be certain to use greases that meet the specifications of your equipment.
3. Hydraulic Fluids
Hydraulic fluids play several important roles in construction equipment, from optimizing production efficiency and operability to reducing noise on-site. They also keep machinery running smoothly, protecting and lubricating components to support efficient power transmission.
However, uneven terrain and dusty operating conditions expose oil to particulate contamination, which can accelerate component wear and reduce fluid life. This often leads to reduced component performance and even possible equipment failure. To prevent this, the hydraulic fluid must offer reliable air release, excellent filterability and improved cleanliness. Some biodegradable greases, hydraulic fluids and gear oils offer reliable equipment protection while helping to reduce the environmental impact of your on-site operations.
4. Transmission Fluid
Dirt, dust and water on a jobsite can break down oil in equipment, limiting its effectiveness and exposing the transmission to premature wear. A high-quality transmission oil with good oxidation resistance can limit this fluid degradation, reducing downtime by extending oil change frequency. A transmission fluid with good frictional properties and high fluidity can provide excellent protection for heavy-duty transmission systems and help keep equipment running efficiently for longer, which can improve productivity.
5. Desiccant Breathers
The accumulation of moisture in hydraulic fluid can cause corrosion and premature mechanical wear. Moisture in hydraulic oils can alter viscosity, deplete additives and instigate the formation of sludge. Hydraulics utilize air to “breathe” as they operate, and this is a main source of how moisture and contamination can enter lubricant reservoirs. Using high-quality desiccant breathers can reduce particulate and moisture contamination in hydraulic fluids on mobile construction and stationary equipment.
A 50-50 ethylene glycol and water mixture in heavy-duty diesel engines offers a combination of good heat transfer and effective freeze protection down to roughly minus 34 degrees Fahrenheit. The ethylene glycol helps prevent freezing and raises the boiling point, and water is necessary because it is more effective at heat transfer than ethylene glycol. In extremely cold environments, a slightly higher concentration of ethylene glycol may be considered.
A growing number of vehicles and construction equipment now require nitrite-free engine antifreeze/coolant formulations to better protect aluminum components. Nitrite-free coolants provide improved protection of aluminum components, including modern brazed aluminum heat exchangers, and meet many of the latest original equipment manufacturer (OEM) specifications.
7. Oil Analysis
With long oil-drain intervals now common, one of the most important actions you can take to help prevent engine damage and downtime is to conduct regular oil analysis. This will enable you to monitor the engine oil and detect oil contamination or other undesirable conditions that need to be corrected to help prevent severe engine issues. A consistent oil analysis program can also assist in optimizing oil-drain intervals, increasing equipment reliability, minimizing unscheduled downtime, and improving operational efficiency tracking accuracy and overall maintenance practices. This valuable combination can play an important role in lowering the total cost of ownership for equipment.
Using high-quality lubricants in combination with a proper preventive maintenance program can reduce equipment downtime and help keep operations on schedule and on budget. By working closely with a lubricant supplier, you can determine the best lubricants to meet the needs of your construction equipment, which can ultimately improve your overall operational efficiency.