Using Heavy Machinery In Cold Winter Climates
As work conditions vary due to the changing seasons and industry needs, many businesses or individual contractors may store their equipment while others will utilize their equipment outdoors in harsh, winter weather. The cold winter days can start as early as October and linger through to April, so it is definitely a good idea to prepare your machinery for winter usage.
On industrial or construction equipment, make sure to install the correct lubricants and condition hydraulic hoses before it gets too cold. Install the correct fluids and lubricants for the engine, hydraulic hoses, transmission and the final drive. The outer wrapper of hydraulic hoses can crack when flexed in colder temperatures, therefore it is best to operate your machine so that the hydraulic oil temperature heats up, then continue running it before heavily working it.
Along with the proper, preventative lubrication and fluids, it is a good idea to use block heaters to fire up your engine in cold weather. Block heaters will help increase the temperatures of the engine and hydraulic fluid. To learn more about block heaters, check out the Wiki page here: Block Heater.
To operate at maximum capacity, ensure your batteries are fully charged and warm. As cold weather starts moving in, your batteries will be required to generate nearly twice as many cranking amps in order to turn over. If you are working in very rigid, subzero temperatures, it is a good idea to store your batteries indoors when the machine is not in use.
One of the most critical things you can do to ensure your machine works fully as intended in cold, winter climates is to always run the engine until it reaches its normal operating temperature. You will help prevent the intake and exhaust valves from sticking by letting it warm up to an optimal running temperature before using it.
At the beginning of every shift, check that your tires are properly inflated for your machine. Colder weather can cause the tires to lose air quicker, so it is a best practice to check the PSI before use. If available, it is best to inflate your machines tires in a heated area to help the tire bead seat better.
At the end of a shift, make sure you fill the fuel tank. In order to avoid your fuel tank freezing, ensure that the tank is filled at the end of the day. By taking these steps your machine will be better prepared for the cold, winter climates.