Get Home For Christmas Lunch On Time!
Another harvest is complete, winter drilling is done and it’s time to slow down for the season and relax, right?
Well, in my experience that’s never the case. Much depends on the type of farm you work on but I can bet you’re unlikely to be putting your feet up for the winter. Whether it’s cattle to feed, sugar beet or maize to harvest, or repairs from a busy summer season (oops!), there’s never a dull moment.
And amongst all these tasks, it’s very easy to overlook one of the most important cogs in your farming system: the equipment you run every day, 365 days a year.
Guess what’s most commonly overlooked? Yes, it’s the handling equipment – and it’s precisely because it’s in everyday use that makes it so important that it isn’t overlooked. Cold weather and repeated, short on-off cycles can take their toll. So, with a view to ensuring your telehandler, wheel loader or even skid steer loader starts first time on those cold winter mornings, I’m going to run through a few tips.
Operations and maintenance manual. When was the last time you looked at it? Have you ever looked at it? I know it’s the first thing every manufacturer will tell you, but it’s for good reason. Those pre-operation checklists are really useful, especially at this time of the year. Check over your machine: structural parts, pins, joints, hoses, wires and connections should all be examined for wear and tear. It’s something that should be done all year round but it’s more crucial during winter months.
Fill up the fuel and DEF tanks. Although condensation isn’t as common on modern equipment, it is possible. If you plan to leave your machine for an extended period, just top up the fuel and DEF tanks to minimise the space for condensation to build up and reduce the likelihood of getting water into the fuel system. A quick drain of the fuel/water separator is always helpful.
Try and store the machine indoors or undercover. Not only will this save you having to defrost the windscreen, but keeping the cold away from the engine bay will help the ignition process.
Check the battery. Make sure it’s fully charged and meets the machine’s specifications. When cold, the engine may require up to twice as many cold-cranking amps (CCA) to start.
Lubrication and grease. Ensure oils meet specifications and are at the recommended levels. Don’t skip any of the greasing points.
Check your tyres. Think about what the tyres have to do. All your grip, directional travel and power transfer to the ground goes through them. That’s Incredibly important when operating equipment under normal conditions and even more so when winter weather brings icy, wet or even snowy conditions. So check tyre pressures, tread wear and inspect for any obvious damage, then replace or repair if necessary.
Run the machine at least once every 30 days. If it’s a true "everyday" machine this may seem superfluous, but if the machine’s regularly used for stop-start work, then do make sure that you run it continuously for at least 30 minutes once a month. Refer to the operation and maintenance manual and make the pre-operation checks, then just operate the machine for a little while.
By no means does this replace the advice in your operation and maintenance manual that comes with your machine, but it could help you get back to Christmas lunch a little quicker. Altogether these checks may take an additional 20 minutes in a day, but waiting for a fitter or technician on Christmas Day will almost certainly take a whole lot longer – and calling out a fitter on Christmas Day to deal with a problem that’s caused by a simple lack of maintenance isn’t going to make you popular in 2018!
Keep safe this winter, check your equipment and, from all of us at Caterpillar, we wish everyone a very happy holiday period!
As the Agriculture Application Specialist, I spend much of my time working with our dealers, customers and internal product groups. My main focus is to ensure that we deliver the best products and services to the agriculture industry across Europe. I really enjoy this role as I am lucky enough to get the opportunity to meet people from all aspects of the industry, building an understanding of the requirements that I then feed back internally, via our product groups and distribution teams. No two days are the same and the varied nature of the industry I work within makes this role a challenge I enjoy every day.
I graduated from Harper Adams University in 2012. I worked within the agriculture industry for a number of years before, during and after studying at University. Then I took the role of Backhoe Loader Product Specialist for Europe, Africa and the Middle East at Caterpillar in 2014. In this role, I worked closely with engineering teams on future products, delivered product training to our dealer personnel and developed sales materials.