Motor graders are the stalwarts of the construction process. Owing to the fact that these heavy-duty machines perform the hard tasks, they need to be looked after so that they continue to perform optimally.
The operation of the entire motor grader machine rotates around its blade, or moldboard, and its precise movement – from the turntable and frame, to the hydraulic cylinders and gears. All these parts need to be taken care of and well maintained.
Generally, one needs to follow the manufacturer’s guidelines and instructions for checking parts and getting them serviced and repaired, and don’t overlook the basics, such as the fan belt, engine oil, gearbox repair service and battery contacts.
According to Sanna Halttunen, the Director of Exports at Veekmas Ltd, a leading supplier of the Low-profile UG motor graders and motor graders for construction offers some insights on how manufacturers ensure prolonged life of the graders. She says manufacturers should ensure the economic efficiency and long term profitability of the end users of the graders. She further encourages seamless and long-term cooperation and open communication between the parties involved to make sure that the end result is a functioning and long-lived quality product which keeps well its resale value
They offer graders with the strongest frame, drawbar circle and chassis in the market. This ensures that the grader does not vibrate and is not flexible either in hard working conditions. The sturdy steel main frame and the most components in the drawbar circle can even be recycled at the end of the product life cycle which also proves the strength of the components. The joint construction of the drawbar circle consists of straight pins and bushings, and no ball joints are used in the drawbar circle. The outer turning radiuses of Veekmas motor graders are especially small.
The motor grader’s moldboard, the moveable blade ring-mounted beneath the grader’s frame, can be swivelled vertically to adjust the angle of the blade itself. Moldboards come in various sizes, depending on motor grader model and function.
Because the moldboard’s hard cutting work, keeping it in tip-top shape is crucial and essential for ensuring a motor grader’s productivity and longevity.
It’s vital for the operator to perform a basic pre-use inspection of a motor grader. Ideally, operators should also perform periodic inspections during pauses in operation during the day and after shutting down.
This is the part that is directly in contact with the soil, so special attention and care needs to be given to its cutting edge.
There are high levels of wear and tear on the cutting blade, or blades, attached to the moldboard, especially if the blade is pitched back, rather than at right angles. For this reason therefore, blades need to be regularly inspected and replaced – in some cases, even on daily basis. Depending on the surface being prepared, blades should be checked after every 25 to 50 hours of operation.
In case the blade gets too worn out before it’s replaced, the performance of the moldboard will be compromised. Failure to maintain the blade’s edges and the bolts that keep them in place, you may end up causing the whole moldboard to be replaced.
Proper maintenance is vital for keeping a motor grader performing optimally – and of all maintenance tasks, the most important is ensuring that the grader has a good cutting edge.
The blade that’s bolted to the moldboard has a cutting edge along its bottom. Depending on the grader, there may also be cutting edges attached on each side of the blade.
It’s the cutting edges that do the real work, cutting into the material to be graded. The time it takes for the edges to get worn down will depend on how abrasive the material is and on factors like the angle at which edges make contact with the material.
The CASE 800B Series Graders’ come with moldboards that have exclusive multi-radius ‘involute’ design with three separate radii that allow for efficient movement of material across the moldboard. In road maintenance applications, it mixes the aggregate evenly as it is spread to create the new surface – a critical aspect to ensure the durability of the road repair. The design also requires less power to move more material, resulting in more fuel economy. In addition, the multi-radius ‘involute’ moldboard moves material more efficiently, so the job gets done faster.
When to change a motor grader blade
Generally a motor grader performs optimally with about 3.5 centimetres of useable space exposed on the cutting edge. If this edge gets worn down too far, the grader won’t work as it should. There’s also a risk of wearing right into the moldboard, which may then have to be replaced.
Depending on the type of material a grader is cutting, manufacturers recommend that you visually inspect cutting edges after every 25 to 50 hours.
Blade slide and turntable
The blade slide enables the moldboard to move on a swivel track, and it should be checked on a monthly basis or so. The bronze or metal shim glides that control the blade slide’s movement is also subject to wear and tear.
Luckly, replacing and removing the glides, which are located on four different points and should all be replaced simultaneously, is a quicker and easier process. To make sure your machine gives you the fine and smooth cut you want, the brushings in the slide also can’t give too much play. If the movement of the slide is too loose, the clevis pins keeping it in place should be replaced.
If dirt clogs your machine’s air filters, their efficiency will be highly compromised and the motor grader will consume a lot of fuel.
Occasionally check the machine’s air filters according to the manufacturer’s recommendations and keep watch of the “restricted alert” signals, if your machine has one, which alerts you to problems with airflow. Pre-filters are vital in reducing the amount of dirt that may enters the air filter, so they can be installed to prevent you having to occasionally change the air filter as often.
Standard on some machines and optional on others, these reduce the work of the moldboard for rough grading or cut-outs. The “teeth” of the scarifier should not wear down to the point of reaching the scarifier shank, or pocket. In such a case, you’ll have to replace the shank − a far costlier task than replacing the teeth.
Operator station and controls
To ensure precision and operator safety and comfort, the seatbelt, floor mat and handles need to be regularly checked. Loose blade handles may also make jobs more difficult and tiresome to perform, especially where precise work is needed. Veekmans motor graders are built with high innovative technicle solutions like tilting cabin, transversally situated gearbox as well as CAN-bus based electronic control and monitoring system. Several technical details, which facilitate operating or improve operator friendliness, can be found on Veekmans motor graders. The results of Veekmas Ltd’s product development have often been unique in the word.
CASE 800B Series Graders are uniquely designed with spacious cabs that provide a supremely comfortable work environment, with all controls within easy reach on the new right-hand side console, all the most used switches on the front panel and ergonomically positioned low-effort control leavers. The improved noise, dust and cold insulation creates comfortable internal climate, while the ample glazed windows provide excellent visibility all round.
Tyre traction affects the machine’s grade, so the pressure of the tyre needs to be monitored carefully. The tyre tread is also pivotal to the machine getting “good bite” on the ground. A half-inch deep is the absolute minimum for a grader’s tyre tread.
The African market remains ripe and untapped. With this growing potential come several challenges. Krzysztof Trybuch from MISTA, a Poland based firm that supplies motor graders cautions suppliers to be brace up for a tough working environment as they entrench in the African market. “African market is currently developing great potential. However, potential suppliers must be remembered that they will face various, harsh working condition and requirements for operation and use of the machine, depending on different destination regions. Also the potential users and purchasers should be aware of the same aspects of use of the machines.
They price should not be the only criteria for evaluation the offers” he says. He advises potential buyers to consider a number of factors before buying. “A level of technological development of the machine and its solutions used inside, standard and additional attachments and ability of cooperation with peripheral systems in a construction site, main component origin, and general features and advantages it offers should be taken into consideration very carefully. Due to complexities in buying and shipping, Jeremy Torgerson, the sale and Business Development Director at Track II Corporation advices potential buyers to deal with credible suppliers.
“The key to making a wise decision is dealing with a company that knows what they’re doing. By attrition, the more-seasoned company is going to make the transaction easier and will most likely be able to react and overcome pitfalls along the way. Access to information on equipment & shipping companies is easy, anybody can get it. But when you’re spending $50,000 to $150,000 on a piece of equipment, it’s a big gamble if you don’t know who you’re dealing with. Ask for trade references. Take a trip to see their shop. Just do your homework and qualify your vendor”, he says
Dale Oldridge, the Product Marketing Manager at Bell Equipment believes the industries in Africa are losing the skilled motor grader operators who significantly reduce the period to complete jobs on site. There is not enough young talent being trained to operate efficiently and effectively, as more companies are becoming reliant on new technologies being introduced into the industry in terms of GPS leveling systems and grade control.
Granted these technologies are helpful, but they are costly and are making operators complacent. He also adds that when looking to purchase a piece of earth moving equipment, some buyers in the industry is convinced that purchasing on price will result in the best solution at that time. He states that equipment can only earn you an income if it is running so it is important to partner with an OEM who has well established maintenance and parts supply facilities in order to reduce your downtime and ensure you are able to operate to generate income.
A number of both global and local firms have however made an impact as far as importing motor graders in Africa is concerned. Brand Tractors Limited is a key supplier of high quality and well priced motor graders with credible dealers in Zimbabwe. The company also assists in shipping to clients who order from their main store. Holland Machinery, a Netherlands-based company has a high experience in dealing and supplying machines for specific industrial sectors.
Holland Machinery uses a unique customer-centered approach of supplying all the required equipment and accompanying both machines and procurement items all the way through to the customer. According to the company’s Commercial Director Ms. Anne Baranetc, Holland Machinery has a strong client-oriented policy where they make sure the machines get to customers in order and on time. The company offers not only construction equipment but also a full range of accessories and spare parts that can be ordered any time.
HİDROMEK is the leading construction equipment manufacturer in Turkey for backhoe loaders and hydraulic excavators. In 2013, HİDROMEK acquired Mitsubishi Heavy Industries’ motor grader business and since then, Hidromek MG 330 and MG 460 motor graders have been manufactured in Thailand. HİDROMEK sells crawler excavators, wheeled excavators, backhoe loaders and motor graders in Africa. MG 330 and MG 460 are built to handle almost any job-precision finishing, scarifying, bank-cutting, ditch working. The clean and powerful turbo-charged diesel engine has been adopted for the MG 330 and MG 460, ensuring reliable work under the toughest conditions. Dual independent braking systems mean that the MG 330 and MG 460 Motor Graders can be brought to an immediate stop at any time, while the cab is designed with full attention to operators’ needs.