By Lee Padgett, Takeuchi-US product manager
Hydraulics are the heart and soul of your machine. Over the last several years, hydraulics have become more sophisticated with better performance through larger pumps and higher pressures. And some machines maintain performance with less horsepower due to Tier 4 emission regulations.
Not only do hydraulics now feature higher quality components for improved lifting capacity and breakout forces, but they also make more versatile machines. That versatility starts with attachments.
A performance boost
Operators can now handle a wide range of tasks with a single machine, thanks to higher hydraulic performance. The capacity to connect a multitude of attachments continues to advance in the industry with stronger hydraulics, as well as attachment-friendly designs and features.
Improvement — even in the last five years — is evident. For example, the auxiliary hydraulics in Takeuchi’s larger excavators were recently improved with the addition of dual hydraulic circuits. Now, attachments, such as a hydraulic breaker, can mount on the excavator without detaching hydraulic lines.
The right flow
Multiple attachment presets on Takeuchi excavators can dial in proper flow adjustments for optimal attachment performance from the comfort of the operator’s station multi-informational display.
The biggest item to keep in mind when purchasing an attachment to pair with your machine is the recommended flow requirements.
Avoid making mistakes like operating the machine at full throttle as it could surpass the maximum settings of the attachment. Over time, excessive flow wears and damages the attachment, seals, components and hoses.
Attachments may add efficiency to a jobsite. Pick out the right attachments for your lineup and you can turn one machine into an all-encompassing versatile monster. If you do not yet possess multiple attachments, you may be missing out on the opportunity to expand your business.
Keeping hydraulics clean
It is important to perform regular maintenance and safeguard the hydraulic system from even the smallest contaminates. Like emissions compliant diesel engines, today’s more refined hydraulic components are highly sensitive to contamination.
Contamination will almost certainly shorten the life of or completely wipe out hydraulic components, depending on how much and what variety. To protect sensitive components, practice routine maintenance for everything from filters to fluid testing.
In addition to routine maintenance, cleanliness is also important when swapping out attachments. Keep dirt and other contaminates from getting into the system by cleaning attachment fittings on both the machine and attachment side before connecting. Clean the refill cap and surrounding area before replenishing hydraulic fluid.
We recommend connecting only new hydraulic attachments to your machine or ones already in your lineup. Otherwise, you may be introducing contaminated oil into your machine’s system by using an unfamiliar attachment. Unless you are willing to take the time to test the hydraulic fluid already stored in the attachment, you should be aware of the potential consequences.
- Check fluid levels
- Look for damaged lines, cylinders and hydraulic leaks around the machine.
- Clean hydraulic attachment couplers before connecting to the machine.
- Pay attention to hydraulic oil temperatures especially when running high-flow attachments like a mulching head.
Annual hydraulics maintenance:
- Take fluid samples to ensure hydraulic oil and vital components are at acceptable particle levels.
- Always replenish with manufacturer-recommended hydraulic fluid.
- Manufacturers have a new machine break-in period around the first 50 hours of operation. Follow scheduled hourly maintenance for replacement of filters and hydraulic oil.
The hydraulics system is the backbone and hardest working part of the machine. Damage the hydraulic system and your excavator, compact track loader or skid steer loader will be rendered useless.
Not only will damage or neglect cost you downtime on the job, but you’ll also pay thousands of dollars down the road. Make a plan to protect the most expensive and vital components of your machine.
When it comes down to it, a little daily preventative maintenance goes a long way.