Before the economic uncertainties of 2008, increasing productivity was often accomplished by upgrading to the largest machine your budget could support, and then using smaller machines to perform other tasks around the worksite. Consider: a complex conveyor system or one massive wheel loader with a high-capacity bucket moves aggregate from points A, B and C to the cold feed bins at the plant while a couple of small wheel loaders take care of fallen material and manage the edges of stockpiles. But as economic conditions changed, a more focused set of machine selection criteria emerged. Owners needed high productivity, versatility, fuel efficiency and a solid return on investment. These four aspects work hand in hand with routine maintenance to optimize the machine’s performance. Let’s take a look.
- High productivity goes beyond horsepower and capacity to strategically matching applications, materials and project costs to the specs of the equipment.
- The owner wants versatility so that the equipment has the capability to perform multiple tasks on different sites, reducing the costs of having two machines do the work that one more versatile machine can handle.
- Fuel efficiency is one of the largest contributors to equipment operating cost. The ideal selection has the power and capacity that’s needed and works at a cost-efficient burn rate.
- A strong ROI means you get the expected uptime and revenue from the machine. Continually operating equipment outside of its specs or rated capacities will reduce its productivity, slow the payback period and shorten its operating life.
Optimization Rule of Thumb #1
Precisely Size up Your Power Requirements
When the goal is to increase production, it’s tempting to select a larger machine with more horsepower and rated operating capacity (ROC) with buckets and tools matched to the machine. Certainly horsepower and ROC are important factors because they determine the amount of force available to move material. However, to truly optimize the performance of the equipment across multiple tasks such as managing stockpiles, feeding bins, or clearing debris, you should also take a close look at bucket and lift arm breakout forces.
Optimization Rule of Thumb #2
Know Your Lifting Limits
If the machine is going to be lifting heavy objects such as a full bucket of aggregate throughout the entire lifting range, it makes the most sense to compare tipping loads and rated capacities. If you need increased lifting capacity periodically, check out what counterweight options may be available. You may be able to increase stability and avoid having to move into a larger-size-class machine.
Optimization Rule of Thumb #3
Don’t Just Go with the Flow, Fine Tune it
If you’re planning to use multiple attachments, you’ll want to match the hydraulic horsepower (flow and pressure) to the types of tools you’ll be using. Know the speed and responsiveness that match your production needs.
It also makes sense to assess the cooling capacity of the equipment. Larger coolers with more capacity will dissipate heat more efficiently than machines with smaller coolers and reservoirs. Cooler oil matters because it keeps components on the machine and attachments at lower operating temperatures, which can extend the working life of the oil and the components.