Cold climate is hard on your machines. No matter which equipment you choose, cold and snowy conditions can hurt the performance of the machinery. If mercury drops to the bottom of the thermometer, here’s what you can do to keep your machine running at optimum performance.
Best Practices to Maintain Heavy Machinery in Cold Climate
Heavy machinery, especially farming, industrial, and mining equipment require regular maintenance to keep up with its operations. It becomes even more crucial when you are operating in cold regions. Managing this massive, expensive machinery poorly in cold climate can lead to inefficiency. Also, a breakdown of such machinery not only is costly, but it can also raise various safety concerns.
While you are worried about keeping your machine operators warm, your construction equipment requires extra attention too. Cold weather is hard on everything – hoses, wires, hydraulics and more. It is important that you give your machines enough time to warm up before the heavy operation.
It is recommended that you protect your equipment from the harsh wind. Ideally, you should store your heavy equipment in a warehouse and use a block heater to fire up your engine.
Block heaters are the easiest and the simplest way to fire up your engine in cold weather and increase the temperature of hydraulic fluid and engine.
Keep the Batteries Charged
Another adverse effect of cold climate is that your equipment battery would require nearly twice as many amps to start. So if you want to keep your gear charged and ready for easy starting, you need to keep the batteries fully charged and warm. The battery may also freeze due to icy conditions. Attempting to charge them at such a low temperature can cause the battery to explode.
Jumper cables are usually a major concern when operating heavy machinery in cold regions with cold. If not handled properly, the cables can cause accidental reverse polarization hookup. This eventually causes severe damage to the electrical system.
Make Sure the Tires are inflated properly
You might have observed that the cold climate can cause equipment tires to lose air quickly. To avoid accidents, always inflate your machine tires in a heated area. Using dry nitrogen gas to inflate tires can eliminate ice crystals and prevent unnecessary deflation.
Some heavy machinery requires components as starting aids for ignition. Ether is the most common of them all. Improper usage, mishandling, and wrong storage of the machinery are also a matter of concern.
Jump starting the engine is often the last resort in such cases. However, if two or more people are involved in this process, it is essential to discuss and plan accordingly before attempting.
Operating Machinery in the Cold
In cold regions, it is not surprising for the windows to become frosty and foggy. Remember that foggy windows can significantly reduce visibility. You need to keep the windows clear as the operator should be able to see all of the obstructions, labor force, and other machines around.
For smooth operations, it is also important to keep a check on the rubber-tired and tracked equipment as they are susceptible to damage. The best way to resolve this problem is to use old tires and planks as parking equipment.
Don’t forget to pay attention to the ground conditions. If the surface is wet or frozen, operations could become more difficult. Tracks and wheels can easily slip on icy and frozen grounds. This does not only hold a potential threat to the machine itself but also to people, nearby structures, and other equipment.
For operational purposes, it is ideal to re-adjust the ground speed. This will enable you to keep a better control on your machinery. Additionally, it reduces the impact of shocks – such as sharp edges and brittle surface – on the machine.
Inspect the job site thoroughly. The more you are aware of the potential problems, the more you will be able to take care of them. If the region has experienced heavy snow, it is prudent to assume that the obstructions could be hidden under the layers. Not only could it cause damage to the machinery but also to the people operating it and others on site.
The key is to keep a realistic approach to production if the conditions get worse. When the environment becomes frosty, certain operations could ultimately shut down – for instance, deep digging. So instead of straining your machine and damaging its performance, adjust the workload.
Be vigilant with your approach.
Safety is essential. In addition to taking all these measures, making smart decisions can also save you a lot of damage and loss. If the conditions seem too unsafe for operation, it is best to report it to the authority and decide accordingly. Failure in doing so will not only put the machine’s life at risk but will also pose a threat to you and other members of the operation team.