Temperatures around Europe have been hitting record highs this summer, and easily getting above 30° and even 40°C in many areas. It’s not the first summer and it may very well not be the last. These trends are a good reason for us all to take a step back and see how we can make our lives safer and protect our assets in these grueling temperatures.
What are the risks of such high temperatures, especially when they’re accompanied by periods of drought? How can you protect your machines? Let’s find out.
Heavy equipment maintenance in the dead of the summer
There are several aspects of heavy equipment maintenance that become especially important during the hotter months. These are crucial for keeping your machines running well and without creating problems that can cause long-term damage.
Making sure your heavy equipment is cleaned properly is a necessary part of ownership. Not only do machines last longer, but when temperatures rise, so does risk of damage. Be proactive about taking care of your machines to ensure a long life span and follow these steps to make sure that during those higher risk months your machines are ready to take on the heat.
Smooth function with the right lubricants
Maintaining proper levels of clean oil, water, coolant, and lubricant is more important than ever when outside temperatures peak. When temperatures outside reach upwards of 30° and 40°C, extra stress is placed on lubricants, so it is important to make sure to use an appropriate viscosity grade that takes into account these high temperatures. Why is this important?
As temperatures rise, lubricant becomes less viscous. In other words, it thins out. That means that in the hotter months where temperatures outside rise to dangerous levels, it is important to equip your machines with a more viscous lubricant that will maintain the necessary thickness.
Please add lubricant! Dust and dirt management with the proper lubricant
Machinery, through time and use, accumulate dust and dirt. The lubricants pass through the machine collecting and removing these debris and particles as they go, allowing for each of the components of the machine to function smoothly and not get stuck. Lubricants are also capable of removing rust, which if left to manifest on the surfaces of the machine can cause irreparable damage.
Another important function of lubricants that is of particular importance in a heatwave is their capacity to reduce heat and friction, which cuts down on the wear of the machine’s internal parts. By creating a lubricating film between surfaces with the right product for your specific machine, you can prevent overheating of internal parts and ensure that your machines will be able to carry through a full day’s work with no issues.
How to save water: when (and when not) to use it
Heatwaves can be accompanied by periods of drought. And Europe has had its fair share of it so far this summer. Water is, as a result, a form of liquid gold. So, how do we save water to best conserve it? And when is it absolutely necessary to use it?
Reduce water consumption with compressed air
Keeping machines clean goes a long way in making sure it gets the life span it deserves. Removing particles and residues that can infiltrate the engine or even promote rust and decay is a necessary part of regular upkeep.
While water is a big part of the cleaning process, starting with compressed air to remove the first layers of debris can save a lot of water. With a two-step process of compressed air, followed by a water rinse, you can cut back massively on water use. A vacuum can be added to the mix to suck unwanted debris out, too.
Make sure to clean especially well with compressed air around the radiator area where dust and debris often collect. A clogged radiator is one of the biggest dangers for these large-scale machines.
Don’t use water in the cooling system!
This is less of a ‘how to save water’ argument, and more of a reminder of how important coolant is during the heat of the summer. Water in the coolant system may be cheaper and easier to use because there’s always some around, but it’s not worth it.
A proper concentration of coolant — many manufactures agree upon a 50/50 ratio of coolant to water — raises the amount of heat the coolant can accept before it reaches boiling point. That also drives another point home: don’t top up with water. Make sure you maintain the even ratio in your coolant tank to get the most out of your coolant and keep the temperatures as low as possible inside your machine.
How to spot signs of overheating
Luckily there are some surefire signs to look for both during operation and maintenance that can indicate problems with overheating. It is good practice to do regular checks of your machines to catch these issues early before they become dangerous for use and face costly repair bills.
During use, if an operator notices that the hydraulics begin to feel spongy and soft and have noticeable slower cycle times, something is up. This is usually an indication that the oil is becoming overheated. Extremely high temperatures can lead to warped gear sets and paint removal off the final drive.
A simple oil analysis can be used to detect if there is a serious issue, and rising oxidation numbers are an easily identifiable red flag. Again, catching these issues early and being proactive by using the right oils and lubricants can save a lot of money and keep your machine running for much longer.
During operation, an overheating engine can be identified by cues like a red temperature indicator, steam or strange sounds coming out of the engine, poor acceleration, or a burning smell. Anything out of the ordinary that you observe should be good reason to take a break and check that everything is working properly.
Regular heavy equipment maintenance, checks, and paying attention to your machine’s signs of an underlying issue are quick tasks that are 100% worth the time, and during a heatwave more important than ever.