Avoid the cost of component failures

There’s little argument that failures are costly. Expensive, long-life parts often are damaged when a sacrificial part breaks.

  • Piston rings, liners and valves, for instance, should last as long as two sets of engine main bearings.
  • Clutch plates and discs, a hydraulic pump’s pistons and swash plates, and final-drive shafts and gears are all expensive, reusable parts that can be lost when seals and bearings fail.

Still, Construction Equipment Lifecycle Research (2007) shows that only 54% of major-component repairs are performed before something fails. That’s perplexing given the technologies and services readily available through Cat® Equipment Management Solutions (EMSolutions), which provide a powerful line of sight into machine inspection, maintenance, parts and repair needs.

So what can you do to keep your machines running longer? Start with these tips for longer component life and lower total owning and operating costs:

Perform regular inspections: Doing something as simple as the daily walkaround, operators can spot issues like fluid leaks. The new Cat® Inspect App enables you to easily rate asset condition through Technical Analysis inspection forms and Preventive Maintenance checklists. Checklists are serial-number specific, and the app lets you add ratings, make comments, take pictures and share results from your mobile phone or device.

Do the recommended maintenance: The simplest and most cost-effective way to keep your machine running longer is to change filters and fluids at the recommended intervals. If you’re working in conditions where contaminants are a problem, invest in better filters and fluids. Those few dollars could save you hundreds. Rigorous testing shows that injectors with Cat fuel filters lasted 45% longer than the nearest competitor, with much less wear and fewer leaks.

Perform fluid analysis: 
Contaminants in oil or other fluids can give you a heads-up to component wear. Lubricants from transmissions, differentials, final drives and hydraulic components can be analyzed and used to indicate life nearly as effectively as engine oil. A general rule of thumb is when two or more contaminants and lube characteristics deteriorate in tandem, trouble is on the way—investigate further. Talk to your Cat dealer about S•O•SSM Services to get expert analysis and recommendations that can maximize component life. It’s a vital, tangible part of good equipment management.

Review repair records for similarities between failures: You may find common warning signals or a particular hour range where problems tend to occur. Picking out similarities can help you prevent those same issues. You can also use the range of hours in which components fail to establish intervals for inspecting machines. Once you’ve identified a range of hours for particular failures, it makes sense to schedule more frequent inspections.

Tap the technology built into your machines: Computer monitoring systems such as Product LinkTM and the VisionLink® interface provide actionable information. They monitor performance and log system events when the cooling system overheats, an engine or a gear in a transmission runs faster than its rated speed, or other components operate outside of normal specifications. Access your information and talk to your operators about any signs of problems.

“Regular fluid analysis and inspections are important parts of good equipment management. When you marry these with site condition analysis, service history and the data automatically generated from your machines, you can create a much more accurate picture,” says Dana Franklin, Caterpillar Project Engineer. “EMSolutions does that. It leverages all of this information, so that your machines last longer and are less expensive to run.”

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Site conditions affect component life

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Equipment management matters

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