Well--maintained chipper can be a highly efficient tool for processing debris on construction jobsites. That efficiency, however, can be quickly diminished if the operator ignores basic maintenance tips that keep chippers in top operating condition.
One of the biggest causes of unscheduled downtime for chippers is feeding materials such as metal, stones or dirt into the machine, says Rob Faber, commercial sales specialist at Morbark Inc. This can dull and chip knives quickly.
“In construction applications, a lot of times there are rocks and other foreign materials that might be in the brush pile that don’t get taken out and get thrown through the chipper,” he notes. “That can cause serious maintenance issues.” Faber suggests operators carefully sort through material piles to ensure nothing gets thrown into the chipper that could damage it.
Another common problem is putting too much material into the machine. “Some operators try to force feed the chipper with a knuckleboom, backhoe or skid steer--type loader,” says Leslie Kinnee at Bandit Industries. “In doing this, the material tends to be larger than the chipper’s capacity.” She explains that this is hard on a machine, leads to jams and can damage the chipper’s feed system.
Improper use of the clutch must also be avoided, including engaging the clutch at improper rpms. “A lot of contractors who don’t operate chippers on a full--time basis might think that since they have a 12--in.--capacity machine, but are only running 5-- or 6--in. material, they don’t need to have full rpm to chip because they’re not chipping big material. They’ll run it at half rpm,” says Faber. “For the machine to operate properly it must run at full rpm at all times, no matter what you’re chipping.”
Another common mistake is trying to unplug the chipper with the clutch. Sometimes an operator will attempt to dislodge materials wedged in the drum or disk by starting the engine, disengaging the clutch, then trying to force the disk or drum to turn again by jamming the clutch in. This will also cause premature clutch wear or failure.
To get the most efficiency out of your chipper and to avoid unnecessary downtime, it’s important to establish a scheduled preventive maintenance program. This includes mapping out the daily, weekly and monthly maintenance checks, and making sure operators follow them diligently. The operator’s manual will provide specific guidelines for your equipment. However, following are some general steps that should be included in your PM program.
On a daily basis, check the chipper to make sure it is operating correctly. In general, you should: