Hired Excavator Problems and What to Do About Them

Cation tape behind a fence to warn people about a hazard.Heavy construction equipment is costly. It is why one of the best ways to cut costs is to dry hire the required machinery for the ongoing project. When you hire a piece of equipment, you trust that it will do its job when on-site. However, no matter how high-quality and sturdy the machine is, some problems are unavoidable due to the environment they are in and human error.

Unfortunately, equipment breakdown can be devastating to your project. The delay can cause a lot of headaches, not to mention it can cost your company. We are not just talking about money here, because it also loses you time, materials, and human resources. Time is money, and there are jobs where you cannot afford any interruptions.

Most of the time, equipment failure takes place when you least expect it. Therefore, you are not ready for the additional expense that you may have to put your attention to. Usually, the machine breaks down when it is most needed.


So, What Should You Do When You Face This Kind of Situation? Do Not Panic

One of the first things that you should do is to calm yourself down. You may start getting angry and emotional because of unexpected circumstances. You are not prepared for it, so it may take a while for you to figure out what to do. In reality, it is difficult to think when emotions are high, and you are panicking.

Understandably, you are not happy with the situation because it affects your operations negatively. Equipment breakdowns are inefficient for the schedule of your construction project. Everyone becomes tense, from the stressed-out operator to the aggravated supervisor. The whole construction crew can experience the pain of the postponed job, especially for those who are interdependent on the machinery.

If a particular machine stops operating, it can bring the whole job site to a standstill until the problem is solved. This downtime is usually a part of the time allotted for the project, which means the company has to pay for it.

When you have just hired an excavator for a small commercial construction project, it can already halt the entire job if it breaks down. Poor maintenance often leads to the machine dying. As the engine sits, trucks line up while drivers wait for orders.

The question now is this: what are you going to do when the excavator you hired stops working? There are a few steps to follow, and ESM Resources will outline them all for you below.

A excavator from ESM Resources working at a mining camp.
ESM Resources is proud to maintain a perfect track record related to all Excavator hire and selected machines.


Verify That You Really Have a Problem With the Hired Excavator

Symptom recognition is where it begins. You and your personnel will need to check everything involving the machine, such as the operator, indicators, control, and even technical documents. This way, it will become easier to recognise whatever the problem may be.

Talk to the equipment operator since this person will be among those who will perform the first actions. The operator is usually familiar with the equipment. Therefore, you can ask him to supply you with details about the machine failure.

Some of the things that you can enquire about are:

  • What are the indications of the problem?
  • Who discovered the trouble, and how did that person find out?
  • What were the conditions on-site when the problem occurred?
  • Is the equipment working intermittently, or has it stopped working altogether?

It always helps to have a technician or a trouble-shooter in the area. This individual will help provide a firsthand impression regarding the condition of the excavator.

Two men discussing the functionality of an excavator.


Take Photos for Evidence and Faster Action

Although your goal is probably to try fixing the issue, your goal should be more on gathering evidence. Take photos and document what took place before, during, and after the breakdown. All these pieces of information will be necessary when you talk to the lender about the equipment. Be sure that you had described all the unusual happenings at that time, such as any screeching noise before the machine stopped functioning.

The photos will be useful later, especially if you think your trouble-shooter cannot figure out the problem. Gather the documentation, so that you have something to show the lender.

Sometimes, the problem occurs because the lender sent an excavator that already has some issues. It is why, before the operation, you should inspect the machine thoroughly. Have a pro check it prior to any activity. It will help ensure that the equipment works without issues, and it only stopped working on-site.

Some things that you can check are the boom and arm of the excavator, as well as its upper and lower frames.

A birds eye view of an open pit mine site with machines.


Narrow Down the Possible Root Causes

Although your primary task is to find a solution and not try to get the equipment working again, it helps to know what the real cause of the breakdown is. If you have a technician, mechanic, or a trouble-shooter, you will have to rely on their technical skills and experience. It is now their job to test the equipment and read its instruments.

Often, when you hire an excavator, you will be provided with operation manuals and other relevant documents. This way, you will know what to do in case it stops working. With the documentation and guidelines, guesswork is eliminated. Finding out the real cause becomes more straightforward.

Typically, the most common reasons for engine or machine failure are:

Thermal: When temperature keeps fluctuating at significant levels, it can result in equipment malfunction. For instance, the machinery starts cold and becomes overheated while warming up. Weather is often a factor here.

Mechanical: If the equipment breaks down because of intense vibration or collision, it is a mechanically induced failure. Other causes include mechanical shock and operator abuse, where the driver pushes the machine beyond its limits.

Erratic: By far, the most difficult to diagnose is an erratic failure, which is often impossible to predict. The problems simply occur randomly under any operating conditions.

Some reasons why the machine stops working can suddenly go away without an individual’s intervention. Others are easy to solve once the cause is determined. However, there are also issues that you should take with the lender of the machine. In such a case, it is not recommended for you to start trying to provide a resolution.


Contact the Lender or Owner of the Excavator

If it seems like the problem cannot easily be fixed, and it can cause delay to your job, you should never wait to tell the lender right away. Repairs or parts replacements should be done by the owner. By contacting the lender with the compiled photos that you have taken, resolution can be made promptly.

Usually, repairs can only be performed after the on-site assessment. Once the excavator works again, normal operations can resume. If the repair takes longer, you can ask for a replacement of the malfunctioning equipment.

Most of the time, the best approach is to assume that the equipment will take some time to be repaired. Therefore, you have to request for another excavator. By doing it in advance, you can have it delivered to your site almost immediately. Also, you can plan an area for the new equipment as it arrives on the job site.

Due to the massive size of the equipment, you may have to give it some space as it enters your yard. If the area is limited and you still have the broken-down machine parked on-site, it can cause even more delays.


Correct the Problem by Focusing on Its Cause

If the hired excavator stopped working because you have an untrained person working the equipment, you should fix this issue quickly. The majority of breakdowns are due to human error. Even if the machine was properly maintained, a lack of knowledge of the operator could quickly cause it to malfunction.

Of course, the solution is to ensure that the person operating the machine is proficient.

Other causes may include:

  • Operators ignoring warning signals from the equipment
  • Overrunning the capabilities of the excavator
  • Worn parts
  • Component misalignment

Sometimes, the problem is out of your control, such as the weather. Poor weather conditions can strain the construction equipment, causing major wear and tear.

When you have figured out what the real issue is or its root cause, it is typically simpler to find the fix.


Talk to Your Personnel

Construction companies in Australia exceed 390,000. Projects, requirements, and staff are all different elements for every operation. There are times when excavators are only used for a specific task. Others require at least one machine on standby. If your equipment is manned by just a few people and the other members of your crew are working on other tasks, it is still vital that you communicate with them.

When a machine breaks down on-site, it means there is a possibility of a delay. The rest of your team may be waiting for some progress on the construction site. However, if the equipment suddenly stops working, it means the others will need to reschedule their jobs. The best thing that you can do is to talk to everyone and tell them about the situation. This way, they will know the correct approach for the disruption of the project process.

Shift change with locks on a mine site.


Follow Up With the Lender to Prevent Issues in the Future

Before you hire a piece of equipment, you must check the reputation of the lender. You should read the terms and conditions provided to you. Understand what hiring entails. Make a note of the expected response on your part in case the machine you have hired stops working.

Once you have decided to rent the machine, you should be allowed to contact the lender at any time. If you had some good experience in hiring with the company, communicating the current problem is the key. It will help prevent any other issues if ever you decide to hire an excavator again.

A 308 excavator being maintained on a mine site.


Know Some Preventative Maintenance to Ensure Construction Equipment is Always in Good Condition

When you hire a piece of equipment, it comes with a certain level of responsibility. You are required to look after the machine, especially when you start using it. The risk of the rental equipment is typically transferred to you from the moment it is sent or picked up by your staff.

Although it will depend on the agreement, you have all the liability with the hired equipment. It includes damage to property, equipment loss, damage for personal injury, and rental equipment damages. Any conscientious business has a program to address equipment used on site. This program is typically known as Preventive Maintenance (PM), where the staff members are trained to anticipate and act to any equipment failure accordingly.

The point of Preventive Maintenance is to ensure your personnel will know what to do even before the breakdown takes place. When the PM practices are successfully implemented within the organisation, all efforts can help extend the lifespan of the equipment. As a hired piece of equipment, your goal is to minimise unscheduled downtime, which is possible with the help of effective PM.

The program you execute can include:

  • Improving the reliability of your staff and how they use the machinery
  • Decreasing the instances of parts replacements and repairs
  • Enhancing inventory management
  • Reducing the unexpected breakdown of equipment

Please note though that technical failure is not included as part of the hirer’s responsibilities. Therefore, if the machine broke down as a result of a technical problem, it is the lender’s job to take care of the problem. In some situations, though, all the repairs and other duties rest on the hirer’s shoulders. Therefore, it is essential to understand what the agreement entails. This way, the entire process will flow smoothly.

If you need to hire an excavator for your project, just contact ESM Resources. We always make sure that all our pieces of equipment are in excellent condition. We focus on preventing on-site repairs or at least at a minimum. To achieve this goal, we check and test all our machines thoroughly before letting our clients hire them.

Talk to one of our ESM Resources experts today!