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How to prevent common heavy machinery and equipment issues

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Heavy equipment and machinery are made to be put to work. However, in trades such as construction, agriculture and similar industries, all that work commonly results in issues, including failure of engines and other parts.

These breakdowns and other problems are hazards of the trade, though, and most of them are avoidable with some preventative maintenance and other practices that focus on keeping machinery and heavy equipment working properly.

Let’s review some of those preventative steps and habits you and your crew can incorporate into regular routines to avoid breakdowns of equipment and machinery.

Train operators on how to use equipment and machinery

Operator error may be one of the most common causes of equipment breakdown and problems. It may also be one of the most preventable causes.

The solution is to provide adequate training for every member of your crew for each piece of heavy equipment or machinery that they will be responsible for operating or caring for while on the job.

No matter the training program you develop and have your team use, make sure it includes some basic mechanical troubleshooting, how to operate efficiently and how to operate as safely as possible for both the operator and those around the equipment.

You should also plan for potential absences to make sure that you always have multiple people who are trained on how to use every piece of machinery present. This should also be a prerequisite for hiring or at least included in new hire training.

Fuel storage can be an issue for larger fleets

One of the keys for any fleet that includes heavy equipment diesel engines is proper fuel storage. It is important to make sure that the diesel fuel you have in storage is stored in a way that protects fuel stability and maintains fuel quality for however long it is stored.

Be sure to keep an eye on diesel storage tanks, as sludge and other deposits can accumulate inside them over time. Biodiesel can add to this problem if there is already sludge in the storage tank. That is because biodiesel can carry some of this sludge into equipment fuel tanks and clog filters.

On top of sludge concerns, owners of heavy equipment must also beware of water in stored fuel, which can cause the breakdown of fuels, leading to clogged filters and poor equipment performance. Water in the tank can also speed up storage tank corrosion.

Luckily, there are additives for fuel that can solve or at least alleviate many of these types of issues.

Troubleshoot engine starting issues

In colder weather, as we find ourselves in more and more often this time of year, equipment can have issues starting. Sometimes, the engine turns over too much. Other times, the machinery may not start at all.

If you are having difficulty getting equipment engines to start, then this could be due to a number of causes that a mechanic can help you identify:

  • Glow plugs
  • Low compression
  • Fuel delivery
  • Battery
  • Cold weather

Different colored smoke coming from exhaust

Differently colored smoke coming from the exhaust is another commonly encountered problem for operators of heavy equipment. Smoke colors that could indicate problems that should be looked at include black, blue and white smoke.

Black smoke

Black smoke signals a possible incorrect air to fuel ration, which could be caused by a number of factors. The cause may be a faulty injector, bad injector pump, dirty air filter, faulty turbocharger, cold temperatures while operating, poor combustion and more.

Blue smoke

Blue smoke typically means the engine is burning oil. There could be several reasons for this, such as:

  • Worn valve guides or seals
  • A problem with the oil filter
  • Too much wear in power assemblies
  • Damaged or worn pistons

White smoke

When an operator sees white smoke, that could indicate there is either too much fuel or not enough heat, which is leading to incorrect combustion. Those problems could be caused by:

  • A worn out injector
  • Bad timing
  • Low compression

Dirty or clogged filters

Many problems in machinery can be caused by dirty filters. It’s up to you or a trained mechanic to know which filter might be the culprit, though.

Air filter

Here at Filter Blaster, we are all about making sure you know how to protect your heavy equipment diesel engines by cleaning air filters. That’s because air filters that are too dirty or completely clogged drag down engine performance and could lead to more serious issues that result in costly repair bills.

If a piece of equipment is operating in an overly dirty or dusty job site, then air filters can become overly restricted. However, too much snow or other freezing moisture can also cause restriction problems in filters.

This means you must know how to check and clean filters when they get too dirty.

Fuel filters

As we have already mentioned, fuel filters – and fuel storage tanks – can become clogged due to microbiological growth or a build up of sludge or gelation in fuel storage tanks. This is even more of a problem during colder weather, according to Fleet Equipment Magazine.

Oil filters

Finally, oil filters can also get a little or completely plugged up, leading to problems in engine and machinery performance. This can be caused by combustion byproducts when the engine load increases by a large amount, the EGR system gets out of balance or coolant gets stuck in the oil cooler.

Keep on top of preventative maintenance

Once again, we have to stress the importance of staying on track with preventative maintenance. This involves having equipment and machinery regularly serviced and checked, as well as having any needed repairs or part replacements being completed.

With a good preventative maintenance schedule, you can catch small problems before they become very big and very costly issues.

Check and clean air filters

Part of your preventative maintenance program should include checking and cleaning air filters often to ensure better fuel economy and engine performance in heavy equipment diesel engines.

Browse our Filter Blaster products today to see how you can improve your equipment’s air filter performance.

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