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Back to School with Compact Excavators

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By: Jason Riley, Demo Specialist, RDO Equipment Co.

For even the most seasoned equipment operator, it’s wise to stay up-to-date on the latest technique tips and regularly brush up safety practices. As students of all ages head back to school, what better time for every equipment professional to take a little refresher lesson in compact excavators. 

The following three areas are key best practices areas to review when operating a compact excavator.

Intro to Safety
Don’t let their size fool you – compact excavators pack a lot of punch and power. While a smaller machine, it deserves just as big a focus on safety as a crane, dozer or other large jobsite staple.

  1. Did you know most incidents happen, not during operation, but during the loading and unloading of the machine? The best safety tip for avoiding transport troubles is to use caution when loading and unloading, and ensure the boom is always facing the direction it’s being moved.
  2. Another safety precaution comes before even starting up the excavator: slips and falls from the machine. To prevent these types of accidents, always maintain three points of contact with the machine when getting in and getting out.
  3. Finally, know which control pattern the machine is in prior to operation to avoid improper direction and movements of the boom and bucket.

Workday 101
Before setting foot in the machine, during operation and prior to calling it a day, a few best practices should be part of each work day with a compact excavator.

  1. At the beginning of the day, do a quick pre-operation inspection of the machine. Check the tracks, look for any areas that appear to be damaged, and ensure fluids are all at adequate levels. Also, clean mirrors and replace any that are broken.
  2. When in the cab and ready to operate, be alert and aware of surroundings, including structures, different types of terrain and other machines working on the jobsite. Adjust operation accordingly for smooth traffic flow, efficient operation, and safety. And most importantly, watch for and always yield to people on the worksite.
  3. At the end of the day, it’s tempting to simply shut down the excavator and go home. But a few extra minutes spent on addressing two items pay back big time in productivity and reduced downtime.

Fuel up the excavator at the end of each day. It’s one less thing to worry about the next morning, but more importantly, a full fuel tank leaves little room for condensation in the tank and system. Condensation can ruin fuel and cause problems in the engine so this one simple practice can save time and money due to wasted fuel and costly repairs. 

End-of-day is also prime time to address any points that need grease. Again, not only does it save a step the next morning, the bushings and pins are more receptive to grease when warm, after a long day of work, than when they’re cold, prior to machine start-up in the morning.

Advanced Tips
Every operator can benefit from drawing on experience of others. Here are a few tips from the experts at RDO Equipment Co.

  1. “To achieve faster cycle times when using a bucket, go into the dirt at a 45-degree angle, and come out at a 45-degree angle.” -- Kenny Lopez, Rental Sales Professional
  2. “Most John Deere compact excavators have an automatic shift feature that essentially acts as an automatic transmission. If you leave the tracking speed in high, it will automatically shift to low when under pressure, then return to high as you straighten back up again. Other brands, you have to manually shift but these do it on their own.”-- Tory Williams, Product Specialist
  3. “Increase productivity by placing spoils close to where you’re digging versus taking the time to rotate and put them behind or further away.” -- Robert Mommsen, CWP Sales Professional

Head of the Class
This back-to-school season, a quick review of safety and operational tips can be the difference in leading your team in optimal equipment operation or getting schooled on the jobsite.

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Looking to buy a new compact excavator? Learn more about Choose Your Deal - a special offer on John Deere compact equipment now through June 30, 2017..

About The Author
Jason Riley is a Demo Specialist with RDO Equipment Co. and based in Phoenix, AZ

For more information on excavators and all compact worksite products from John Deere, visit your local RDO Equipment Co. store.