Guidelines for Setting Up and Operating an Excavator Properly

  • Editorial Team
  • Excavators
  • 2 June 2023

Operating an excavator requires careful setup and adherence to specific guidelines if you want to ensure safety, stability, and optimal performance. This guide provides detailed instructions and recommendations for setting up your excavator, identifying and marking utilities, and following trenching trends to improve productivity.

1. Setting Up Your Excavator

A. Platform Stability

– Opt for a larger platform for more stability.

– Dig in the front or back and dump to the sides to reduce distance and enable easy access for trucks or spoil piles.

B. Lengthy Reaches

– Dig diagonally across each corner of the tracks for maximum stability when performing numerous lengthy reaches.

– Maintain stability and minimize cycle times for improved productivity.

C. Digging Range and Positioning

– Stick’s optimal digging range is between 35 and 45 degrees from vertical back to vertical.

– Avoid digging outside this range to maintain productivity and stability.

– Fill the bucket when the stick reaches the vertical position.

– Slide the machine’s undercarriage forward or backward between passes to maintain the recommended digging range.

D. Utilizing Crowding and Curling Forces

– Create crowd force by sliding the stick inward while digging.

– Bucket cylinder and linkage produce the force for bucket curling.

– Optimal bucket curl force should be 10% to 15% higher than stick crowd force for optimal performance.

– Design of the bucket and ground-engaging equipment can significantly impact excavator performance.

2. Identification and Marking of Utilities

A. One Call System

– Contact the local One Call System at least 48 hours before digging.

– Comply with legal requirements and avoid fines by notifying utilities of your excavation plans.

– Local utilities will visit and mark their facilities after receiving your information.

B. Tolerance Zone and Markings

– The tolerance zone around a mark extends between 18 and 36 inches on any side.

– Markings provided are approximate, so exercise caution.

– Avoid digging within the tolerance zone to prevent damage to utilities.

C. Flag Color Code

– Electrical power lines, cables, conduit, or lighting cables: Yellow flag.

– Gases such as natural gas, oil, steam, gasoline, etc.: Orange flag.

– Phone, cable TV, alarm, signal, or communication lines: Blue flag.

– Slurry, water, or irrigation lines: Green flag.

– Drains or sewers: White flag.

– Survey markers (temporary): Pink flag.

3. Trenching Trends

A. Digging Technique

– Start from the top of the trench and work downward in layers.

– Avoid digging up the face and filling the bucket from the bottom.

– Digging from the bottom up is more difficult and increases the cycle length.

B. Excavator Positioning

– Position the excavator to face the work area, avoiding digging over the side.

– Work within the excavator’s maximum digging envelope for optimal efficiency.

– Utilize the force of the stick and bucket to fill the bucket fully in each pass.

C. Trenching Sequence

– Finish the far wall of the trench before moving on to the straight walls.

– Extend the stick while lowering the bucket to move in a straight line.

– Keep the bucket open and standing upright.

– Proceed to the nearest wall, maintaining a vertical cutting edge while raising the bucket.

By following these comprehensive guidelines, you can ensure safe operation when working with your excavator. Proper setup, accurate identification and marking of utilities, and adherence to trenching trends are crucial for maintaining stability, maximizing productivity, and preventing potential damages or accidents. Remember to prioritize safety at all times and comply with local regulations and best practices to create a secure and productive work environment. Implementing these guidelines will not only help you achieve optimal excavator performance but also contribute to the overall success of your excavation projects.