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What should be checked daily on an Excavator or other civil equipment prior to starting?

Pre-start checks are essential to ensuring the machine is well looked after and in best working order. Each machine can vary, please check the manual for machine specific pre-start check lists.

Excavators and machinery pre-starts can be broken down in to three steps:

Step 1 - Visual inspections of important features prior to starting the machine

Step 2 - Visual & function tests while the machine is turned on but stationary

Step 3 - Testing the machine’s functions during a short drive

Step 1 - Visual inspections of important features prior to starting the machine

  • Inspect Hydraulic Lifts & Tilt Rams (if applicable) - are these lubricated and carry no damage?
  • Battery - check the bracket terminals secure and clean
  • Check the battery electrolyte levels correct and caps in place
  • Safety Fittings and Features
  • Seat and Seatbelt working and no damage
  • Ensure the Data Plate is readable
  • Ensure Warning Decals are readable
  • FOPS & ROPS - are they secure and in good condition?
  • Coolant, Oil & Fuel Levels
  • Engine Oil Level
  • Fuel
  • Transmission Oil Level
  • Hydraulic Oil Leve
  • Check Coolant Level Correct for temperature
  • Fluid Leaks - ensure there are no fluid leaks under the machine
  • Attachments
  • Attachments like Buckets, Brooms, Spreader Bars etc - ensure they are secure and the pins secure
  • Is there any damage to attachments that is visible? Make a note
  • Ground Engaging Tools and surface (such as tracks, buckets etc) - is the cutting edge loose or worn?

Step 2 - After turning the machine on:

These are general functions and common to all machines:

  • Horn - does it work? And is there any issue with its volume?
  • Check the Hand Controls are operating correctly
  • Foot Pedals - make sure they are clean and operate correctly
  • Control Panel - check if there are any issues with warning indicators, lights and gauges
  • Reversing Beeper - do they work and does the machine operate in reverse?
  • Lights - do they work? Can they operate on spot or drive mode?
  • Is the Rotating Warning Light operational
  • Check the Park Break holds the machine on an incline

Step 3 - Testing the machine’s functions during a short drive

To complete the final checks you need to drive the machine a small distance.

  • Is the steering working well with no undue noise/stress?
  • Steering clutches - is there no excessive play?
  • Creep - the machine doesn’t creep when controls are neutralised

For an excavator pre-start also check the following:

  • Ensure the track chain has correct tension
  • The boom and dipper extend to full height
  • The bucket tilts and crowds to full travel
  • Slew - ensure the boom slews correctly and to full travel, with a smooth motion
  • Check the Auxiliary Hydraulics are operating
  • Check any survey equipment or GPS that might be fitted

If concerns are noticed with any of the above checks, then the operator can report these and repairs can be done promptly.