Keep Artics in Tip-Top Shape
Better Roads Staff
Today’s articulated haulers have sophisticated computer systems that continuously monitor nearly every important operating function, including engine, braking, transmission, and hydraulics — all while the hauler is hard at work.
By Richard Iddins
Less than a decade ago, completing the many daily, weekly, and other periodically scheduled service and maintenance rituals on articulated haulers was a time-consuming, expensive, and, often, not-so-operator-friendly chore. But several recent design and engineering innovations by manufacturers are changing all that.
Service and maintenance regimens of todays’ articulated haulers can now be completed in a more streamlined, less cumbersome, and not-as-frequent fashion compared to older models.
The resulting benefits for owners and operators are many; including less time spent attending to daily and weekly service tasks, increased productivity, and reduced maintenance costs.
Credit the computer … and Tier 4
At the core of the reduced service and maintenance interval movement is our trusted friend — the computer. Today’s articulated haulers have sophisticated computer systems that continuously monitor nearly every important operating function, including engine, braking, transmission, and hydraulics — all while the hauler is hard at work.
The vast majority of the advancements made in monitoring functionality can be attributed to engine design enhancements that were necessary to comply with Tier 3, Tier 4 interim, and Tier 4 Final requirements.
The day of the mechanical engine is gone. With the onset of the Tier 3 engines, and, of course, today’s Tier 4 Interim and approaching Tier 4 Final, all of these engines have to be electronically controlled. As the Tier ratings have increased, vast improvements to the cleanliness of engine combustion chambers have been realized. The result is a cleaner-burning engine with less carbon and soot buildup. All these factors help extend oil life and increase the intervals necessary between oil changes.
Being electronically controlled, computer systems can self-diagnose. When a system can self-diagnose, it tells operators right on the display what’s going on, and what may potentially be wrong. It monitors those critical operating functions and warns operators well in advance and long before there is any damage.
Recognizing that the integration of Tier 4 engine technology also represented an opportunity to facilitate other engineering enhancements, manufacturers have polled customers to gain feedback about issues related to existing models that were of greatest concern. Overwhelmingly, owners and operators cited service and maintenance; expressing frustration with the amount of time it was taking and the general inconvenience of performing daily and weekly maintenance tasks. As a result, manufacturers have responded.
It doesn’t stop with engines and oil changes. Engineering enhancements resulting from Tier 4 emissions standards can also be credited for extending hours between change intervals for fluids throughout the entire hauler — in many instances, for up to twice as long.
And then, there’s the computer credit. Some manufacturers offer a computer-controlled monitoring function that automatically checks primary fluid levels continuously. With the system, daily and weekly maintenance is no longer required. It provides an oil-level reading prior to starting the engine. The operator simply turns the ignition key to the first position, and during the time computers are booting up — simply a matter of seconds — the system will check and display the oil level.
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