Anyone with experience working on a construction site knows that one of the top profit killers can be unexpected downtimes. When an excavator breaks and a worksite comes to a halt, costs can add up quickly. And with a new unpredictability in timelines for a part’s deliverability and availability, a sudden breakdown can lead to a less than clear answer to knowing when you’ll get back up and running.

Luckily, it looks like normality is on the horizon, but until that day arrives, identifying potential problems and preparing in advance can help you avoid escalating issues from downtimes. To help, we’ve identified a few key parts on an excavator to evaluate or add to your spare excavator parts inventory and some simple tips to put in place to make your downtimes as short as possible.


Keep Excavator Parts That Routinely Wear Out in Inventory

Even at the best of times, knowing what filters, seals, and gaskets need to be replaced at certain times is a good way of planning ahead and making sure your present self does your future self a favor by keeping those parts in inventory. But today, even the most common consumable part can be met with a surprise delay in delivery.

Now is a good time to extend your inventory of parts at the ready to include any low-cost part that could lead to prolonged downtime from sourcing or delivery — nobody is happy when a worksite comes to a crawl while a $5 bolt needs to be found and delivered. 

To find what parts you might consider keeping in stock it can help to take a good look at the machine, look at the wear in areas of the machine, and ask yourself, “If this simple part breaks, how long will downtime be while it gets repaired?” It can also help to talk to the machine’s operator. Often their familiarity with a particular machine can lead to straight insight about simple parts that are much more critical than you expect.

Pay Close Attention to Your Undercarriage

The undercarriage on your excavator is routinely an area that is prone to wear and tear, simply from its position on the machine and the work it performs. For this reason, you should take time to do a deep dive on the condition of parts that exist in high-friction areas or that are routinely subject to impacts and wear.

Excavator undercarriage parts to inspect and to consider having spare parts on hand (depending on cost and condition) are:

  • Bottom and Top Rollers
  • Sprockets
  • Track Adjusters and Track Springs
  • Tracks, whether Steel or Rubber

Create a machine log that records the condition of parts

You can use specialized software – or simply use a spreadsheet – to create a machine log that tracks the condition of the parts on your excavator, their current life span and any problems. This simple tool allows you to quickly view the critical components on your excavator and plan for early repairs.

In your log, you can also add notes about any problems and even do a quick search for available replacements – if a part shows signs of a problem, you can determine if a sudden failure can be fixed quickly, or if having its replacement on hand can save you money in the long run.

If you have multiple machines, machine logs can also help you understand the health of your entire fleet, allowing you to visualize what happens if one critical machine breaks down and affects the entire jobsite. If renting a replacement machine is a possibility, you can even keep rates in this file so you can see what your costs might be if you need a temporary replacement machine and don’t have time to wait.

 Move Unplanned Downtime into Planned Downtime

Every excavator will need some amount of planned downtime to keep it performing well, and balancing how much time it spends in maintenance and how much time it spends at work is always difficult. But one way to keep maintenance time lower is to make sure planned downtime is as productive as possible.

During planned downtime take a hard and close look at any adjacent parts or parts that can be replaced or repaired simultaneously. Often you’ll discover a part that is on the edge of needing maintenance, but that giving it attention now while the machine is already inactive will save immensely in time. A good mechanic that takes a proactive approach often knows that getting every workable second out of a part often isn’t the choice that pays off in the long run.

Even some early calls to determine availability or repair times can be built into timelines. Waiting a day or two is much more palatable if you know that the downtime will only start once the part arrives and the entire machine will come out ready to run for the longest span possible.

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