Regular machine maintenance is an important part of the fleet management strategy in achieving higher machine efficiency, improved productivity and reduced downtime. Scheduled maintenance planning is a preventative strategy that enables machine owners and operators to effectively plan for repairs, costs and downtime. Since maintenance schedules and intervals differ by several qualifying factors, it’s easy to apply the wrong strategy.
This becomes even more important for Tier 4 Interim machine maintenance because it’s that much more segmented. While some routine maintenance steps have been eliminated or reduced with improved technology, not all Tier 4 Interim maintenance requirements are the same—sometimes not even within the same machine family. And remember, when we talk about Tier 4 machines, we have to keep in mind that Tier 4 Interim and Tier 4 Final machines exist and some of those requirements can be different.
Maintenance Differences between Tier 4 Interim Machines and Previous Generations
Tier 4 Interim machines have special requirements for fuel and engine oil to maintain emissions standards. Some require a special fuel additive; others require a diesel particulate filter (DPF), which may need periodic replacement. The fact remains that Tier 4 Interim maintenance differs from previous generations and is further segmented by machine type, size and manufacturer.
We can break this down further by dissecting and comparing specific machine examples. Some Tier 4 Interim Cat® machines have eliminated a few traditional maintenance requirements with the implementation of Tier 4 Interim technology. For example, the Cat Dozers C4.4 engine no longer requires a periodic valve adjustment, which saves time and reduces maintenance costs.
While some Tier 4 Interim Cat machines have completely eliminated some maintenance requirements, others have designed component configurations to make maintenance easier. For example, the DPF in the Cat Tier 4 Interim-compliant Backhoe Loaders is mounted on the frame and outside of the engine compartment, which leaves the engine compartment wide open for easy, routine maintenance.
In addition to reduced maintenance requirements, some Tier 4 Interim Cat machines are equipped with specialized software, like Product Link, for remote monitoring and data acquisition. For example, the Cat Small Wheel Loader family software package includes onboard monitors that help operators identify the best procedures for reaching high efficiency. Important data, like machine fault codes, are stored to aid in troubleshooting for reduced downtime.
Considering Your Tier 4 Interim Maintenance Options
The best way to get the most out of your maintenance strategy is to be familiar with your fleet and its unique maintenance requirements. No two maintenance strategies will be the same because each fleet is made up of different machines that serve different applications and job requirements. You can build a successful maintenance schedule by taking advantage of available resources to make more informed decisions regarding maintenance strategy.
Assess your current maintenance strategies. If your maintenance practices for your Tier 4 Interim machines are driven by an older generation of machines, it could lead to unexpected downtime, premature component failure or machine warranty void.
Keep service manuals on hand. Using manufacturers’ recommended maintenance intervals and service requirements will help avoid unnecessary costs and downtime. You can modify recommendations to fit your specific job requirements.
Contact your local representative. Your local dealer will be able to provide more detailed information about your maintenance strategy options customized for your specific needs.
We’d like to hear about your experience with Tier 4 Interim maintenance.
What questions do you have regarding Tier 4 Interim maintenance?
How does your Tier 4 Interim maintenance differ from machines in your fleet from previous generations?
What can Caterpillar do to make Tier 4 Interim maintenance easier?
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