“In a lifting situation, for example, our rated loads are rated at 87 percent of the hydraulic capacity or 75 percent stability,” he explains. “The operator needs to keep that in mind. If he’s sitting at a severe angle, he’s going to have less lifting capacity than if he was in a stable position.”
Following capacity limits also applies when using attachments. If you have the wrong size attachment -- a bucket that is rated at a larger width than the excavator is capable of handling, for example -- that could throw the machine off balance and possibly tip the machine over.
3. Be aware
While it might seem a basic principle of equipment operation, remind your customers about the importance of knowing their operating environment. Operators should always make sure they’re operating in an area that is safe.
Special attention must be paid to underfoot conditions. Operators should be aware of the ground conditions the excavator is sitting on. These machines don’t react well to unstable ground, and they can slide sideways if the ground sinks underneath them.
Stability becomes an even bigger issue when working on uneven ground. “Operators need to position the machine properly,” says Smith. “The backfill blade on the excavator is designed for backfilling and to work as a stabilizer. They should use the blade to level the machine and get a stable platform.”
Because of their size, compact excavators are frequently used in very tight work areas. This makes it even more important for operators to check for potential obstacles that could affect performance. Neglecting to check the surrounding area could produce unwelcome results, such as getting the boom stuck in a tree branch or running into an object on the jobsite.
4. Keep it maintained
Daily preventive maintenance, including checking the fluids (coolant, engine oil and hydraulic fluid) is a must to keep compact excavators running optimally, says Connor with Bobcat. “If any of these levels are low, the rental customer should add the manufacturer’s recommended type of fluid,” he says. “It’s also important to keep these areas clear of dirt, so remind your customers to use a clean rag to check the levels.”
Regular greasing is another important, yet neglected, step to keeping compact excavators maintained. Daily greasing will keep the machine working properly for a lifetime, say sources.
Following recommended maintenance schedules is also a must. Follow recommended greasing, oil and filter change intervals, as well as ask customers to perform a daily walk--around inspection. During the walkaround, customers should check for leaks and loose nuts and bolts, as well as inspect the track tension. If the tracks are too loose or tight, they should be adjusted after greasing.
Proper preventive maintenance becomes even more critical when the machine frequently powers hydraulic attachments, such as hammers.
“Whenever the machine is using attachments, whether it be a demolition hammer or an auger, we recommend that you change the hydraulic oil and filter on a shorter interval than normal,” says Smith. Vibration from hammer operation can also accelerate wear. “You need to pay attention to connectors to make sure everything’s tight to minimize the potential leaks. You might also need to shorten up the grease intervals.”
5. Think safety
Safe operation of compact excavators lies primarily in the hands of the operator, which could make you think that it’s out of your hands. However, you need to stress to customers before they leave the yard the importance of keeping safety in the forefront of their minds. One important tip to pass onto customers is to resist the temptation to “go around” the safety restraints of the equipment. “There are built--in safety features on the machine for a reason,” says Smith. “To get under parking garages or in certain places, we’ve seen operators take the rollover protection system off, which is obviously not a good thing.”
Ultimately, safe operation of compact excavators comes down to common sense. Remind customers of this -- if something looks dangerous, they probably shouldn’t do it.