It is important to ensure that your machinery has its annual service once a year. More and more maintenance teams are getting staff to carry out this work, either the staff themselves or employing a technician/mechanic. This can be cost effective and given the reliability of both hydraulic and electrical systems on many machines, a winter service does not necessarily mean a workshop full of machines, stripped down into multiple parts. Simply following the guidelines in the operator’s manual can ensure that, at least, the power unit is serviced sufficiently for future use. The cutting units are of course a subject in themselves when it comes to the grinding of cylinders (reels) and bottom blades (bedknives).
Engines and hydraulic systems have benefitted from improved technology as oil coolers and radiators have been replaced with more efficient heat exchange units. The improved technology has also been applied to the warning systems; digital display screens offer more information, and horns and buzzers give the operator clear warnings. Some systems even record the number of warnings given to the operator, so that accurate investigations can take place in the event of system failure. This recorded information can be very beneficial in the planning of the servicing the machine, and also perhaps asking why the problem arose in the first place.
Installing service indicators on key components such as hydraulic filters and air filtration systems is also a good idea. These could be in the form of a sight gauge, a pressure gauge, warning lights or warnings on the operator main display unit. So, check the hours of use on your machinery, and based on the information supplied in the operator’s manual, determine whether or not the filter or oil actually needs replacing.
Instead of draining and replacing hydraulic fluids as part of a routine service, most manufacturers now recommend that hydraulic fluids are tested before unnecessary expensive replacements, and the costs and environmental issues involved with disposal. Testing also checks for particle build up, moisture content and viscosity.
What to do now?
1. Order the required parts from the dealer – always use genuine parts.
2. Have a supply of correct tools to carry out the tasks. Machinery can vary between imperial (inches) dimensions for nuts and bolts and metric (mm). Use of wrong size spanners and tools can lead to damage to both you and the machine.
3. Ensure any oils purchased are the correct specification – brand is not a problem.
4. Always support machinery correctly and safely when removing wheels.
5. Replace chaffed or damaged hoses.
6. Do not undo hydraulic hoses unless you are aware of the outcome – maybe a raised cutting unit could fall to the ground unexpectedly.
7. Beware of trapped enertia – hydraulic systems on mowers can operate at pressures of 3,500psi and above.
8. Work in a clean environment and dispose of waste materials responsibly.
All manufacturers have factory trained dealer technicians, so always remember that if the task requires greater, in depth diagnosis, service and repair they are there to supply their knowledge and expertise.