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Equipment Spotlight: Compact Wheel Loaders and Skid Steers

There is a lot of debate about compact wheel loaders and skid steers when it comes to deciding which is best. However, they both have a lot in common when it comes to functionality and maintenance.  

Our repair managers see a lot of similarity between claims made on compact wheel loaders and skid steers, so they’ve shared some tips on how to keep them both in tip top shape, no matter what the activity.

Attachments

Attachments are as important as the machinery itself. Performing daily tasks such as the loading and unloading of heavy and rough materials can cause wear and tear.

An inspection of hoses, tilts and lift cylinders should be done to ensure there is no unnecessary risks, damage or hazards.

“Check bucket mounts on wheel loaders as they are prone to leaking cylinders. For skid steers, inspect the track frame mountings for cracks and uneven wear, otherwise the machine might lean to one side,” says NTI’s Repair Manager, Manuel Renu. 

Rolls, tips and falls 

Peter Frommolt, another member of NTI’s expert Repair Managers team, notes that one of the major recurring incidents he sees, is rollovers and falls when attempting to load and unload the machines from vehicles.

“Bulky machinery can easily become misbalanced and fall or tip if there isn’t adequate care taken in manoeuvring it to and from a vehicle.

Repair Manger, Andrew Brennan emphasises the need for safety when loading and unloading.

“Do your pre-start checks and don’t rush. Make sure the ramp is in good condition and that it is locked in securely before moving,” he says.  

Make sure when operating the skid steer or wheel loader that the speed and capacity limits of the machine are not exceeded, also ensure there are no dangerous objects or uneven surfaces around that could puncture tyres or cause it to tip.

Fires

Electrical fires are a scary reality but one that can be minimalised with the appropriate precautions.

Fire can be ignited by overheated components like seized bearings or locked brakes or friction caused by exposed wires or hoses rubbing. 

“When the wire’s insulation wears off over time it can create a spark if it comes into contact with metal, so make sure this is serviced regularly,” says Peter. 

Wheels

Leaks or improper inflation of the wheel can occur with constant use of equipment which may lead to damages or tyre failure if undetected and untreated.

“Always check tyre pressures and make sure they are even on all corners, otherwise you will get the machine sitting on an angle which is exacerbated when loaded,” Manuel points out. 

Having the right tyres may also seem like common sense but a lot of people get it wrong. Assess what the application is and choose tyres accordingly.

Bias Tyres: Best for gravel or quarry style operations

Radial: Good traction on finished surfaces and for long distances or higher speeds

Solid: Best for industrial or scrap-yard operations

Floatation: Designed for operating in soft and muddy conditions

Fluid levels, fuel and oils

“Scheduled oil sampling, checking of fluid levels and routine lubrication of the machine might seem like a bother, but it’s essential,” says Andrew.

Use a dipstick or sight glasses to check the levels and refer to the equipment manual for recommended filling intervals.

Without good fuel your equipment can’t run, let alone efficiently, so keep an eye on the fuel quality and for any leaks.

“I have come across quite a few fuel contamination claims, and they are more regular than you think. You can avoid contamination by stopping leaks and purchasing fuel from a reputable supplier such as BP, Caltex etc.,” says Manuel.

Cooling system 

Work sites generate a lot of dust which is a risk for cooling systems.

Test the glycol percentage with a simple glycol and alkalinity swab as it’s vital to cooling- it needs an adequate amount to ensure that the coolant's boiling and freezing points are in check, as well its anti-corrosion capabilities.

Whether you’ve got a compact wheel loader or skid steer, Yellow Cover has got you covered with industrial strength protection.