Whether it's used for lifting and placing or for digging and dumping, your telehandler will perform more productively and last longer if regular preventive maintenance is an integral part of its life.
"The more care you take, the less likely your machine will fail," says Steve Peacock, director of after sales support, Manitou.
Standard PM tasks
Like all construction equipment, the list of PM tasks includes changing filters as needed and watching fluid levels, such as engine oil, transmission fluid, hydraulic oil, etc. Be sure to use fluids recommended by the manufacturer as outlined in the machine's maintenance manual.
"Follow the directions as to what fluid ? brake fluid, coolants, oils, etc. ? you put in the machine," advises Jim Blower, mid-range product manager, JCB.
Regularly grease pins, bushings, etc. to prolong component life. "Worn pins and bushings/boom slide pads are the most common failures due to lack of grease," says Abe Wheeler, product support, Skyjack.
For machines working all day, lubrication may be needed as often as once a day, and in some situations, automatic lubrication systems can make sense. And while frequent greasing does require an investment in time and money, in the long run, it pays for itself. "Spend a few dollars for grease, rather than hundreds or thousands of dollars for a new cylinder or axle or whatever component wears outs," says Peacock.
Components such as chains on a lift and place machine will need to be adjusted. "Make sure all the chains are under the same amount of tension. If one stretches and the other doesn't, then you shift the load onto just one chain," says Blower. "When one chain does all the work and suddenly fails, it puts a shock load onto the second chain. Then that one can fail because of the shock load and the whole thing can come down."
The parking brake is another area that is commonly overlooked. Check the cable and adjust it if necessary to ensure it will work when needed.
And don't forget to check the tires. "Tires are probably one of the more common wear items on telehandlers," says Brian Boeckman, JLG, "especially if the machines are being used on hard surfaces such as concrete or asphalt."
If you're renting the machine, determine who is responsible for PM tasks. "A few rental houses do service their own equipment, rather than relying on the renter," says Blower. But if the responsibility falls onto you, make sure it's included in the operator's routine. "If one of the main pivots seizes on a rental unit, and the rental company can prove that it's due to a lack of maintenance, you can be held responsible for the repairs."
Some technologies to assist with maintenance are beginning to make their way into the telehandler market. For example, JCB's Live Link is a GPS analog cell phone technology system that enables owners/operators to communicate with a machine from the office. They can monitor information such as hours, fluid levels, etc., and set the system to indicate when a particular service is due.
"Then you can get the parts ready and go out to the machine when it's due," says Blower. "You can be prepared. This is some of the newest technology that helps keep the machines working. If you know when a particular service is due, the manager can set up the truck with all the necessary parts and be prepared. You don't have to wait for the operator to call in. It's just more proactive."
Above and beyond
There are certain jobsite conditions that may require you to go beyond the standard PM requirements.
"Any machine within the construction industry will have a maintenance schedule based on an optimum machine doing optimum work with an optimum operator in optimum climate conditions," says Peacock. "But there may be a requirement by the user to modify maintenance for some applications."
Jobsites that are particularly dusty, muddy and/or extremely hot or cold will require maintenance above and beyond what is outlined in a given maintenance manual.