For people who work in construction or mining, it is not at all unusual to work on a slope. When used properly, excavators can be very helpful but it is essential to be careful. From using the right pieces of equipment such as screening bars and grouser bars to providing the right training, there are things that can be done to keep workers using excavation equipment safe and sound.
ForProductionPros.comandnbsp;has put together more information about what companies should do when they want to use the effective equipment on a steeper slope. They say that there are a different set of details that need attention on a slope vs. flatter areas.
Matt Hendry, product specialist, Hitachi and John Deere excavators, says “An excavator is capable of climbing some pretty steep slopes. When working on slopes, it takes a lot of extra care.”
The first thing that needs to be done is review the worksite and what exactly will be done there. This is mainly because so many things can go wrong at just about any time that cannot all be prevented. George Lumkins for Kobelco Construction Machinery USA has said, “The operator must assess the situation carefully on a case-by-case basis, and is responsible for the safety of himself or herself, the machine, surrounding equipment and the surrounding people.andrdquo;
Each job site and each slope is unique. It is crucial to ascertain the amount of traction that is needed. Tracks can be very helpful but there is only so much that can be accomplished with them on steeper slopes.
Lumkins continued, “Ground-to-track shoe traction is the limiting factor for safe operation. If you cannot dig parallel to the tracks, pointed downhill, and not slide the machine toward the bucket, the slope and ground condition are too steep for safe untethered operation.”
Having admitted the limitations of track usage, they are still essential on job sites that involve excavation but they need to be positioned properly. “If you are working on a slope, you want to be sure the tracks are pointed up and down. Getting sideways on a steep slope can get real interesting in a hurry. If you are working uphill, you want the idlers forward. If you are working downhill, you want the idlers pointed down slope. The drive motors are heavier, so you want more weight behind you. The idlers are designed to take the digging forces of the machine and spread it through the frame via the through axles connected at both points. The drive motors are connected to one side of the frame. So the load factor, on a regular basis, [should be] over the idlers,” said Hendry.
All equipment used on one of these job sites needs to be carefully positioned. From screening bars to grouser tracks parts and grousers, companies need to pay attention to the placement. For instance, the tracks need to be pointed downhill. Their attachments have considerable weight, which can be an advantageous thing.
If there are stability issues, they can be mitigated by the correct placement of the boom and attachment. This is most useful when going downhill. Lumkins says, “Going downhill, roll the arm perpendicular to the boom or slightly out, level the bucket, keep the bucket just off the ground, but not dragging, and point the attachment downhill. This will aid quick reaction to control the machine if it begins to slide. Never back down a slope as you need the attachment in front in case the machine slides.”
Similarly, screening bars should be placed correctly when they are part of the excavation equation. That is for several reasons, the proper method of action and the efficacy to the job at hand.