Fuel-Efficient Excavation - Getting Maximum Mileage from Your Machines

22 November 2021

Not getting adequate mileage from your excavation or construction equipment? You’re not alone — many business owners are missing out on significant operational savings by not making small incremental improvements to improve their fuel burn. To reduce operational costs, lower your carbon emissions and increase your team’s on-site efficiency while offering competitive rates, minimising fuel usage is key. Here we outline some simple tips to promote fuel efficiency across your operations and get maximum mileage from your machines.

Minimise Idle Times

When a machine is idling it’s using fuel, which means allowing a machine to idle unnecessary is a key area to target if you’re to get maximum mileage from your construction equipment. With ongoing advances in heavy equipment engine technology, it’s no longer necessary to wait so long for heavy machinery to warm up before operating (except in extremely cold conditions) or cool down. The most efficient way to warm up the entire machine and not just the engine is to start off slowly and not just let it sit there and idle. To allow the machine to cool down gradually, drive slowly and easily before parking it. Limiting idling and using the automatic low-idle mode reduces fuel consumption on site and also helps to reduce unnecessary emissions.

Ensure Correct Tyre Pressure

When the tyres on an item of heavy equipment are at the correct air pressure, your operators will find that the ride, handling and stability increase, translating into greater productivity. Under and over-inflated tyres contribute to unnecessary fuel consumption and also make machines less efficient and safe to operate, so checking your machine’s tyre pressure regularly is something that you don’t want to overlook. While your operators may not have the time to perform a tyre pressure check before each shift, they should still check the tyres as part of their pre-shift check while supervisors should schedule regular tyre pressure checks.

Run and Shift at Lower RPM

Operating and changing gears at a lower RPM when a job doesn’t require maximum power increases fuel efficiency while placing less pressure on the engine and components, reducing wear and tear. Operators should know that excavation equipment is best started on low RPM before gradually increasing to higher RPM to ensure minimal fuel consumption and smooth operation as the machine gradually warms up, but they should also look for opportunities to operate and shift gears at lower RPM to minimise fuel usage.

Monitor Your Machines

The proactive monitoring of machine maintenance and health issues helps to identify issues before they become problems. Monitoring and machine maintenance offers many ownership benefits, such as reducing repair and overall operational costs, and increasing operator and worksite safety, but it also plays a major role in reducing fuel consumption. When parts and components aren’t operating correctly they can require more power to run and that increases the amount of fuel they consume. Connecting your fleet assets with an after sales service program like Hasting Deering’s HDAdvantage® program provides an overview of your machines’ fuel consumption along with idle time, oil condition, fault codes and more, enabling you to closely monitor each machine and effectively schedule maintenance and repairs.

Ongoing Servicing and Repairs

As mentioned above, when construction or excavation equipment isn’t in optimum operating condition it consumes more fuel and that can see your operating expenses increase rapidly. In addition to monitoring your machinery with a proactive machine monitoring program that enables you to identify any faults early on and carry out repairs, scheduled servicing is essential. Following the scheduled servicing requirements outlined in the owner's manual ensures your machinery is serviced in line with the manufacturer’s recommendations. This helps to keep warranties valid and ensures machinery is operating as intended, which is a major driver of fuel efficiency.

Inspect Air Filters Regularly

As even the slightest increase in filtration efficiency can have such a significant preventative effect on the airborne contaminants that can infiltrate a diesel engine, inspect air filters regularly and clean and replace them when required. As a business owner, it’s important to understand that air filters act as an engine’s main defence against contaminants like dirt and dust particles, and that if these contaminants enter the engine block, they can cause significant damage and require costly repairs. Additionally, correctly functioning air filters boost machinery fuel efficiency and the larger the item of equipment, the greater the opportunity to reduce fuel consumption and lower emissions with a clean, high-quality Cat air filter.

Change Engine oil Regularly

Similar to an air filter clogged with contaminants, the thicker the engine oil viscosity, the harder the engine has to work to push oil through the engine and its components. While engine oil is the specially-designed lubricant for maintaining and lubricating engines, its condition has a significant effect on fuel efficiency, making regular servicing and oil changes with quality Cat oils and fluids essential to protecting your engine components as well as delivering cost-effective operations.

Efficient On-Site Communications

In addition to maintenance and operational considerations, it’s also possible to get more effective mileage from your machines with more efficient on-site communications across teams. Across many worksites, the main cause of excessive idling and machinery run times is poor communication between teams and team members. When teams communicate effectively and operators know where to work and when, it reduces excessive idling, travel and machinery run times, delivering maximum mileage for your machines and more cost-efficient and productive worksite operations for your business.

Hastings Deering is the official Cat dealer for Queensland and Northern Territory. To speak with a Cat specialist about getting maximum mileage from your machinery through engine rebuilds, Cat parts, our HDAdvantage® program or scheduled Cat servicing, contact your local Hastings Deering branch.

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