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Equipment spotlight: Excavators

As national specialists in mobile plant and equipment, we handle excavator claims on a daily basis, and see some commonalities in the cases we deal with regularly. 

Whether tasked with earthmoving, demolition, extraction, grubbing or basic loading, lifting or digging, an excavator is inarguably one of the most essential tools. 

So, our expert repair managers have shared some handy hints on safe operations and given the low down on servicing an excavator to maintain optimal performance and ultimately prevent an avoidable incident.   


  1. Cleaning

One of the most effective forms of maintenance and the easiest, is cleaning. There has been many occasions when dirt has built up and the performance of the excavator has suffered. 

“A dirty machine means it’s difficult to check the condition of hoses and wires, which if damaged can become fire hazards,” says NTI Repair Manager, Manuel Renu. 

“Basic cleanliness of the engine goes a long way in helping avoid incidents, so give these areas a quick hit with a pressure washer regularly.” 


  1. Conditions and operational hazards

Another of our expert Repair Mangers, Peter Frommolt, notes that rollovers are one of the most common claims he sees come through. 

“The operator should check the working environment for any unstable soil, uneven levels and slopes, and adjust accordingly,” says Peter. 

A documented risk assessment is also key. This assessment should include operation and environmental checks such as the terrain, where the machine will be operating, the speed it should be operated at, the weight loading, stability, and operational dynamics e.g. width of track, body weight, centre of gravity. 


  1. Track tension

Track tension in excavators is frequently overlooked.  A track running loose or tight will accelerate wear on the rest of the track system components. Operators should refer to their equipment manual and check to make sure the track tension is correct regularly. 


  1. Grease

Operators should grease all pins and bushings daily. The operator’s manual will identify each grease point and provide recommendations for quantity and grade of grease. As with under-greasing, over-greasing can also be problematic. One to three shots of grease is typically plenty to do the job. 



  1. Hydraulic oil and hoses

“We’ve seen a lot of incidents were worn hydraulic hoses and hoses rubbing on electrical wires have started fires,” says Peter. 

“It’s a common hazard that is easily overlooked. Neglecting to replace a worn hose could end up with it blowing at the most inconvenient time, putting your excavator out of action and your back pocket a bit worse for wear.”

Hydraulic oil is also something that is easily forgotten.  Hydraulic failures are often due to contaminated oil or even the wrong type of oil. 

Although it may look clean (just like engine oil), it breaks down and loses its viscosity. Clean oil helps protect all moving parts in the system. 

Rust proves to be a problem too in a sealed hydraulic system that is always full of oil. Failed hydraulic pumps and system components can have rust on the rotating group and in the housings. It should be changed long before it becomes cloudy. 

“You can prevent this by taking oil samples of all the compartments regularly,” adds Peter.  


  1. Wires and clamps 

“Always check for chaffing or rubbing of wires and faulty securing clamps,” says Manuel.  

Be sure to replace worn insulation and ‘P’ clamps as they are worn down by oil contamination and heat. This can cause the wiring and cables to vibrate, wearing down the insulation and exposing them, posing a fire danger. 

“Friction causes wires to become exposed, in turn causing electrical fires, so keep an eye on these,” adds Peter.  

By monitoring them and replacing them it reduces the chance of a fire igniting and spreading through the engine. 


  1. Record keeping

Record keeping is important so there is up-to-date service records and invoices for oil, filters and repairs. This can provide invaluable information in the future if you need to make an insurance claim or need something repaired. Good service records also can help boost resale value.

Here at Yellow Cover, we have faith in the workmanship of our repairs, so much so that we give a life time guarantee on all repairs. So if there is an incident, clients can be confident that we’ll have them back up and running.