Compact track loaders have become a vital fleet member on farms and ranches due to their versatility. However, not all compact track loaders offer the same performance capabilities. There are several considerations to make with uptime in mind—most importantly, serviceability, support of a dealer network and parts availability.
Service and Maintenance Time
Daily maintenance inspections on compact track loaders are essential to achieve maximum machine longevity. You must monitor your machine’s condition regularly in order to detect potential issues that could turn into bigger problems if ignored. With this in mind, the first thing to consider is the positioning of components such as the engine air filter, battery, engine oil dipstick, engine oil filter, electric priming fuel filter and water separator, hydraulic oil level sight gauge and hydraulic oil filter. Important questions to ask your dealer include:
Are these components accessible by simply opening the rear engine door?
Is the rear engine door on a hinge or does it need to be removed and set aside when servicing or inspecting the machine?
Are tools needed to access or check the components?
It is also important to consider the component layout underneath the cab. A complicated layout will take longer to inspect or troubleshoot the machine. Look for a compact track loader with a well-organized component layout underneath the cab which will be easy to clean out, inspect and identify any issues.
Compact Track Loader Fuel Systems Factor into the Uptime Equation
Proper fuel system maintenance is another key element of routine care for compact track loaders, especially with the fuel system technology required to meet today’s more stringent emissions regulations. It is necessary to always use clean fuel, regularly drain any water from the fuel water separator and change the fuel filter element within the recommended intervals.
Fortunately, there are several fuel system advancements that are significantly improving ease-of-maintenance and decreasing machine downtime. Some of these features include:
Transparent fuel water separator housings that allow you to visually inspect for water in the fuel daily.
Electronic sensors on the fuel water separator that alert you to water in the fuel.
Tubes connected to the bottom of the fuel water separator that allow you to easily drain it when necessary.
Automatic electric priming pumps that prime the fuel system with the turn of a key switch.
Fuel systems in which the air is automatically bled while the machine is running, without having to open bleed screws or use tools.
Dealer Network and Parts Availability
With many dairy farms, cattle ranches and feed lot operations located in rural areas throughout the country, an industry-wide concern is the proximity of dealer technicians and parts availability.
Even if the dealer isn’t located in your immediate geographic area, you still may receive better and faster service from larger dealerships. Larger dealerships often have greater capabilities, advanced support structures and access to more resources, including field service technicians. Located throughout the dealer’s region, these technicians can come out to customers’ farms or ranches to perform regular maintenance and assist with any repairs.
Parts availability is essential when performing maintenance or repairs, especially for rural operation owners. Larger dealers are more likely to have higher counter availability rates, as well as faster parts shipping time. Most guarantee delivery within 24 to 48 hours. Additionally, they have parts drop boxes located throughout their service region to provide you with convenient access.
The end goal is always increased production and revenue, and this cannot be accomplished without optimal machine uptime. That is why it is critical to consider factors that will increase uptime when spec’ing your next compact track loader to help ensure the success of your operation.
I am a Pre-Field Agriculture/Product Application Representative for Caterpillar. I recently graduated from North Carolina State University with a dual degree in Agriculture Business Management and Agriculture Science, concentrating in Leadership and Environmental Technologies. I focus primarily on the relationships between customers, dealers, and the product specialists for the Building Construction Products division. Growing up on a beef cattle farm, I have several years of machine operation experience and agricultural knowledge. Thomas Jefferson said it best in that, "Agriculture is our wisest pursuit, because it will in the end contribute most to real wealth, good morals, and happiness."
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