It’s not uncommon to see farmers neglect their fleet of machinery and end up rushing to the garage for costly emergency repairs. Yet simple preventative maintenance performed at the start and end of the season could save farmers thousands of dollars in repairs.
The word says it. Preventive is to prevent possible breakage and check the premature wear of a machine. Carrying out interviews, therefore, makes it possible to detect small problems to resolve them before the season and thus avoid having to stop operations and suffer a loss of time and especially money.
What to check?
First, run your machine, be it a tractor or a hay baler for example, and pay attention to the noises it makes. Check the belts. Are they cracked or worn? Are they starting to fray? Also, check your oils and filters. How many hours have they gone? The idea is to know whether to change the oil before the season. Checking the oil helps to find out if it is contaminated or if there are any leaks or other types of leaks. It is much cheaper to change a seal than to change parts. And add oil!
For hay machines, also check gearboxes. Farmers often change the header oil every year, but leave the gearbox oil alone. Yet the gearbox spins as fast as the table. So we should be paying as much attention to it. How many times have I seen gears that didn’t even have teeth anymore, they were so worn.
I also insist on this very important point: do not wait before making your repairs and above all do not wait for the following season. It’s the worst thing! I see a lot of farmers who had a break in the fall and decide to leave it like that because the season is over. Then, when spring comes and the first cut of hay comes, they phone the garage because the machine is broken. Quick, we have to fix it. It’s pressing! Plan and do this during the off-season, before storing for the winter.
The expert’s advice
If I have one piece of advice for all farmers, it’s this: create a maintenance schedule and keep a record of your vehicle or machinery maintenance. Moreover, there is a maintenance chart in all the operator’s manuals for each machine in your possession. This principle applies in general, not only in the ‘world of agriculture’. For example, if you are dealing with a compressor like the Atlas Copco ZT & ZR Series Air Compressor, there is always a manual that can help you carry out the proper maintenance process. At the garage, I see farmers arriving with a notebook in which they have noted the date of the last oil change, the last maintenance, or the last repair. This is an excellent initiative and it also helps to avoid oversights.
The most common errors
In nearly 14 years of experience, I have noted three errors that we see far too often. The first is the lack of fat. It is essential to lubricate the various components of a machine that needs it. Grease reduces the friction of one part against another and greatly contributes to the better functioning of the machine in addition to extending its life. For example, the front axles of 4 x 4 tractors, the central pivot, and the side pivots, too often forgotten, lead to too frequent and above all costly repairs.
In the second place, I noted the oil changes, which are not frequent enough. Oil cleans, lubricates, inhibits corrosion, and more. Moreover, checking the oil helps prevent leaks and see if it is contaminated, which, in many cases, can lead to collateral damage.
The third point is just as important as the first two. Avoid extreme wear of parts. Don’t wait until the last minute to change a part thinking you’ll save money rather than buying a new one. A broken piece malfunctions and ends up breaking other pieces. Result: we end up with a lot of stuff to change and it costs a lot more than expected. An example? Press knives. Some farmers will wear them to the bone to the point where the knife no longer does its job and will contribute to accelerated wear of other parts, which again increases the expense of repairs.