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Protecting Hot Machines

Operating generators, compressors, light towers and other common rental equipment in hot conditions poses a number of challenges. Here’s what to tell your customers and maintenance staff when equipment is going out on hot days.


October 27, 2020
By Jeremy Baily

Topics
Coolant, belts, batteries and lubricants all break down faster in the heat. Photo: GettyImages/xijian

Excessive heat accelerates wear on machine components and can cause damage if your machines are not properly managed and maintained. While you can’t control the weather, these four best practices can control the chance of equipment failure caused by the summer swelter.

1. Fully service machines
It’s not uncommon for rental or seasonal equipment to sit in the yard during the winter months. As road construction, lawn care and outdoor events increase the demand for portable power, it’s important to fully service any machine that hasn’t been in use for several months.

Generators, air compressors and light towers all require their engine oil to be changed, as well as their oil and fuel filters. Compressor oil and filter should also be changed when applicable. Check the quality of the engine coolant using a refractometer. Coolant that is 24 months old or older should be replaced regardless of quality. Check fan belts for wear or loose fit and replace or tighten as needed. Check tire tread and pressure, as well as the machine battery.

Perform a visual inspection of internal components and wiring to ensure rodents or other small animals haven’t built nests or chewed through wires. Exposed wires can cause electrical shorts.

Allow the machine to operate in a loaded condition to check for leaks or other issues that may arise before deploying to a jobsite.

2. Idle for three to five minutes
Protect engine components from damage by allowing a machine to idle for three to five minutes before shutting down. Idling allows oil to flow through the oil cooler in order to lower the temperature. Shutting down a machine with hot oil could cause the oil to cook, creating a sludge-like consistency. The thick consistency leads to improper lubrication and eventually causes damage to the bushings and bearings.

3. Adequate lubrication
Make sure all fluids are at optimum levels to maximize cooling and lubrication. Use correct viscosity engine oil and compressor oil for the ambient temperatures and appropriate fuel blend for seasonality. Because ambient heat adds stress to machines and can accelerate wear on components, it may be beneficial to shorten the intervals between routine maintenance to ensure adequate lubrication and cooling. In other words, an oil change may need to be completed at 250 hours instead of waiting until the standard 500-hour mark.

Oil sampling and analysis conducted by a third party can help identify the appropriate interval for routine maintenance. Oil analysis looks for contamination and oil breakdown. An analysis determines whether oil needs to be replaced immediately or can continue to be used in the machine.

4. Proper spacing
Proper spacing around machines aids in adequate air circulation to prevent heat buildup. If multiple machines are on site, a 10-foot circumference around each machine is recommended to aid in dispersing exhaust fumes and directing discharge heat away from nearby machines.


Jeremy Bailey is the director of product and program management at Doosan Portable Power.