Maintenance Tips for the Off-Season and Beyond…

Successful sweeping companies tend to employ a good maintenance program for their sweepers although each maintenance program looks different from company to company. Some companies want their drivers to know how to perform basic maintenance on the sweeper so that they can fix something small out in the field, while others have a full team of mechanics that check each sweeper when they come in the morning.

Many companies look to the off-season to buy new (or new to them) equipment. Remember that maintenance starts as soon as you get a sweeper. “It is important to go through that manual when you first receive the unit, even if you’ve been in business for many years, as minor points of maintenance change from model year to model year,” says Costas Cordonis, Schwarze’s warranty and training administrator.

“A good preventative maintenance program is the best cost-benefit value to your sweeper. Every sweeping contractor and municipality should have a program in place to catch any loose parts, misalignments, vibrations, etc. early on. To keep your sweeper energized and performing well, vital sweeper system
and parts must be well maintained and replaced in a timely manner as the need arises.”

Cordonis offers the following tips:

1—Clean the debris hopper daily. Daily cleaning helps avoid dirt accumulation, which will generate rust as well as restrict the air flow and the performance.

2—Maintain the hopper screen. This is essential because the hopper screen is the main area where the air flow will move freely to the fan. So maintain the screen, keep it clean and keep it free of any obstructions.

3—Inspect the fan and fan inlet. This should be done daily. Look for debris buildup that can cause vibration and result in bearing and drive line damage. The fan should be replaced at the first sign of machine vibration. When it is time to replace the fan, the drive line should also be replaced with new bearings to keep it fresh and up-to-date.

4—Inspect and replace air seals. All rubber seals that are associated with the fan inlet, intake tubes and doors of the hopper should be replaced as they become worn to allow a tight seal for optimum vacuum. All rubber seals should be replaced routinely.

5—Inspect and adjust the sweeping head. On all air sweepers the sweeping head is considered the most important part of the machine. Any time the sweeping head is out of adjustment the sweeper performance will decline dramatically. A bent or twisted sweeping head will be very difficult to adjust, and since it is the most important part it should be kept in alignment and the rubber skirts replaced when it is no longer possible to be adjusted.

6—Inspect the rubber skirts daily. The rubber skirts reach the ground, so make sure they are sealing to the ground creating optimum vacuum. The rubber skirts should be replaced when it is no longer possible to achieve a good seal on the ground.

7—Adjust and replace curb brooms. The curb brooms are designed to move the debris from the curbs to the path of the sweeping head. As the curb brooms wear, they will require adjustment. It is necessary to replace the bristles or adjust the curb brooms’ strike pattern (as specified in your sweeper owner’s manual) to maintain the optimum settings. The curb broom bristles should be replaced when it is no longer possible to achieve the strike pattern to clean the curb efficiently.

8—Monitor and maintain the hydraulic system. The hydraulic system of the sweeper should be maintained regularly with the correct viscosity oil, hydraulic filter changes, and pressure settings to ensure high performance. Replace weak or inoperative hydraulic components at the first sign of hydraulic pressure loss. Replacing the hydraulic filter will prevent hydraulic oil contamination and also return back pressure which will develop restriction on the hydraulic flow.

9—Inspect the water system. The water system is vital to the life of the fan due to dusty conditions. A properly functioning water system will keep the debris moist as it enters the hopper, not allowing it to stick to the screen, which would restrict air flow. Also, inspect the water filter daily to make sure it’s kept clean and that spray nozzles are clear. Repair or replace the inoperable water system components to keep adequate dust suppression for your sweeper.

In the off-season

Cordonis urges owners to “keep a documented maintenance schedule to ensure a long life for all the parts on your machine. And go ahead and schedule an appointment with the Schwarze® Factory Reconditioning Center for a 32-point inspection. The Flexible Factory Reconditioning Program allows you to choose from one of our cost-saving packages best suited for you or ask us to customize and quote one specific to your needs.”

The off-season is a good time to do any major overhauls and can be a good way to keep employees working through the year as Roman Albert from Lot Maintenance references in the Spotlight article.

Cordonis offers the following off-season maintenance tips:

1—Increase your gutter broom speeds in the winter. If you’re sweeping in an area where temperatures are approaching freezing, you might find your hydraulic systems running a bit sluggish. In order to combat this, you can drop the weight of your hydraulic fluid down to a 20 weight. This will increase the gutter broom speeds and improve your hydraulic systems cold weather performance. Just remember to put back in a heavier weight oil when the temperatures rise.

2—Minimize damage to your dust suppression system.
In the winter, water systems can easily fall victim to freezing temperatures, especially if your sweeper is not stored in a heated building. If your machine is left to the elements when not in use, it’s a good idea to drain your water system. Just remove the water filter located near the bottom of the water tank. Sweepers vary, but draining the water from your system will help minimize damage to your dust suppression system.

3—Extend the life of your sweeper’s magnetic coils. It’s that time of year again when salt and sand mixtures are being used on winter roads. To help you get maximum life expectancy from your hydraulic components, specifically your magnetic coils, now’s a great time to inspect them. If the coils are dirty or grimy, they can be taken off the valves, cleaned, greased and re-installed. This will help ensure they last longer and keep your machine running smoothly.

Story by Jennifer Taylor