A daily checklist for chipper and grinder maintenance

In Issue03, WoodTECH by FIEA1 Comment

This checklist and pointers for inspections of your wood grinder or chippers recently appeared in the Wood Business publication. A full link to the original story is detailed below.

As a business owner, you do not simply purchase a wood grinder or chipper, you invest hard earned money in an asset that over time is expected to produce revenue for your business. To maximize this revenue, the machine must work consistently and efficiently, producing a merchandisable product for your market. Machine downtime and inefficient operation will create excessive expenses increasing operating costs, which reduces your gross profit.

Scheduled service such as changing out air, oil, and fuel filters along with draining and replacing hydraulic and engine oil should be completed per the recommended maintenance schedule in your machine service manual. Compliance with this schedule is essential in keeping the air and oil needed to efficiently run the components on your machine clean and contaminant free. But it’s also important to stick to a daily checklist for uncovering risks that if neglected, can create costly repairs and unwanted machine down time.

Daily inspection of your chipper or grinder before and after operation should be incorporated into the daily schedule for all operators. “A 15- to 20-minute walk around the machine can end up saving you thousands of dollars in repairs,” says Bill Jensen, Peterson Pacific parts sales rep for the Pacific Northwest. “A machine inspection should be a part of the daily routine and never neglected. These are expensive machines and you can’t make money if material is not coming off the conveyor belt or out the chip spout.”

Begin your daily inspection by ensuring the battery disconnect switch is disengaged and a lockout tag is used so it is clear that the machine should not be prepped for operation. Always make safety your first priority.

“Start by looking for potential fire hazards,” Jensen says. “Material build-up around the engine and the fuel and hydraulic tanks can ignite under the right conditions.” Always remove these threats either manually or using compressed air to blow away debris from the machine.

“While I’m looking for wood build-up, I’m also searching for hydraulic oil leaks. Hydraulic oil is expensive so you want be sure to keep the oil in the tank,” he says. Major leaks need to be addressed immediately but if you feel the leak is minor, make notes and correct the problem at your earliest convenience.

The next area for inspection is the mill where the grinding and chipping of material takes place. On a grinder, always check the tips of the grinding bits to make sure the cutting edges contain sufficient carbide to make it through a shift. A worn bit is unproductive and should be turned or changed out immediately. On a chipper, sharp knives are critical to maintain chip quality.

Inefficient bits or dull knives create excessive vibration on a machine. “Vibration adds stress to welds and fasteners which can lead to cracks or breaks,” says Jensen. “All components are impacted – fittings, hoses, tubes, pumps, motors. Minimize vibration stress as much as possible.”

Pay special attention to fasteners, which secure bits to holders and fasteners and clamps holding chipper knives in place. “Losing a bit or a chipper knife during operation can be catastrophic, loose steel tumbling free in a grinder or chipper mill creates expensive repair bills,” Jensen says. Replacing inexpensive fasteners is low-cost insurance compared to the damage that can result from a dislodged bit or knife. More >>.
Source: Wood Business

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Jocelyn McDonald
Jocelyn McDonald

My husband wants to get a wood chipper to mulch some of our older trees, and your article had great tips for maintaining equipment like this. I liked how you said my husband should check the chipper for fire hazards, such as material build up around the engine. Thanks; we’ll keep this in mind if we get a wood chipper.