The increasing popularity of tool carriers in the construction market has been spawned by the vast number of attachments contractors can choose to complete almost any task. With just one attachment, contractors have discovered they can use it across several different carriers, such as skid-steer, compact track and all-wheel-steer loaders, compact excavators, utility work machines and backhoe-loaders.
"Rental businesses don't want to buy an attachment for every single tool carrier; they like an attachment to work over several different carriers, which has made compact equipment popular in the construction industry," says Rae Dell Braaten, attachment product manager for Bobcat Company.
Because of attachments like hydraulic breakers, sweepers, trenchers, augers and combination buckets, tool carriers are making their mark on construction sites. And in order to maintain the optimal versatility of their tool carriers, rental businesses are realizing they must maintain their attachments regularly.
While tool carriers have basic components that should be inspected and maintained when running both hydraulic and non-hydraulic attachments, each of the dozens of attachments available also has parts that must be serviced on a regular basis.
The hydraulic breaker is an attachment that is commonly used for performing concrete demolition. Because of the enormous force and vibration hydraulic breakers both produce and sustain, Braaten says special attention should be paid to the connection points between the attachment and the tool carrier.
The actual tool point on hydraulic breakers should also be inspected for wear. Operators can equip hydraulic breakers with several different tool points, such as the crosscut chisel, nail point and tamping pad, which all wear differently. Be cautious to avoid wearing down your tool point so much that the nose of the hydraulic breaker, rather than the tool, comes in contact with the material. "You want your tool point long enough so that you can punch through the material without hitting the nose," Braaten says.
In addition to the tool point, operators should ensure the hydraulic hoses are routed properly through the pivot point and out of harm's way; the tool bushing that fits around the tool isn't loose; the tool is greased; and the nitrogen charge pressure is at the right level. "If you have a weak charge, you're going to have a breaker that's hitting just as fast, but it won't be hitting hard enough to get the work done," Braaten says.
Proper operating techniques are critical to preventing wear on hydraulic breakers. In colder climates, instruct operators to run the breaker slowly in the beginning, allowing it time to rise to its operating temperature. Prying is also not advised. "You want to break the material away so that it breaks in pieces, and you can kind of push them away from you without prying them loose," Braaten says.
Having a sweeper attachment can be a valuable tool on the jobsite for keeping the work area clean. More and more cities are enforcing strict guidelines that require contractors to keep streets and sidewalks dirt-free, especially in residential areas. So instead of using manual labor and hand brooms to sweep the jobsite, a sweeper attachment can clean a small or large area with less effort and in less time.
Keeping the attachment connection points clean is extremely important when operating the sweeper because contamination can damage the motor, resulting in insufficient power to drive the sweeper broom.
Inspecting the bristles daily for wear is another critical maintenance practice. One of the most prevalent ways operators misuse the sweeper attachment is by applying too much down pressure on the bristles, Braaten says. "Operators think the harder they press the bristles down, the better it will sweep," he says. "If you're in a machine, you don't realize the strength that the carrier can hydraulically place on those bristles. If you reduce the amount of down pressure on the bristles, they'll sweep better."