When you hire heavy equipment for a short period, or for the length of a whole construction project, it’s important that you know how to maintain and drive these heavy pieces of equipment, as their large size makes them incredibly dangerous to operate if you don’t know what you’re doing.
When it comes to driving heavy construction vehicles there are several books, such as ‘The Safe Use of Vehicles on Construction Sites’ that give tips and guidelines on how you should alter your driving behaviour in these environments in order to ensure your safety, the safety of those around you, and keep your vehicle in good working order at all times.
Outside of these books, however, there are certain tips you should follow for the sake of everyone concerned. Take the example of an excavator (also known as a digger). Excavators are large, heavy pieces of equipment that can be driven around a construction site and used to remove soil from the ground. They’re common in building sites, but if you’re hiring one for the first time the learning curve surrounding how to safely maintain and drive one can be steep. To reduce this learning curve, read on…
How to Prevent Tip Overs
If this is the first time you’ve driven an excavator before you’ll have to be aware of several points in order to prevent potential tip overs. Because all vehicles are different, you’re encouraged to read the owner’s manual which should have been provided to you by the hire company. Once you’ve given it a good read through and you hop into the cab, make sure you:
Limit your excavation work to twenty degree slopes; anything steeper could result in you toppling over. Also ensure you stay away from the edges of ditches and banks, as they have been known to collapse under their weigh of heavy vehicles.
Ensure there’s a roll-over protective structure (ROPS) above you; if the vehicle you hired came with an ROPS, you should make sure it’s in place at all times.
Keep the bucket low when driving; this is especially important when driving uphill in order to keep your balance, but it’s a good rule of thumb when driving anywhere on a construction site.
How to Maintain an Excavator
When you hire your vehicle you’ll be presented with it in a fully working, well-maintained state. For this reason it’s essential that you keep up your maintenance on the excavator whether you’re hiring it for two days or two months, as the excavator hire company insists on maintaining quality vehicles. Four areas you should look to maintain on a regular basis are:
Ensuring Your Fuel is Uncontaminated
Diesel fuel can become terribly contaminated by water, as you know, therefore when you hire an excavator or any other piece of heavy equipment which runs on diesel you must check to make sure it comes with a fuel-water separator. These separators have inside them a sediment bowl that's designed to allow water to drain away from your fuel, often by using a special membrane that allows diesel fuel to pass though it, but blocks the path of any water which is currently contaminating your fuel.
You should check this filter at least once a week, as they do need to be replaced periodically. If you remember to fill your fuel tank after each use you’ll help to drain any moisture that has collected in the tank overnight straight towards the filter.
In conclusion, if you’re hiring a heavy construction vehicle or a piece of heavy equipment for the first time, such as an excavator, you should make a point to read the owner’s manual given to you by the hire company, as well as learning how to prevent tip overs, finding out how to maintain your vehicle, and learning how to filter water from your vehicle’s fuel.