Monday, 30 November 2015

Is your irrigator going to perform for you this season?

Most of the country's irrigators should be well into gear by now, so it's a good time to ensure that your system is going to get you through the season with as little hassle possible.

Giving your irrigator a mid-winter service is generally the best way to prevent mechanical breakdowns the following season. A mid-winter service generally involves things like lubricating joints, replacing oil in gearboxes, looking for signs of fatigue, etc. Addressing these points will go a long way in setting you up for a happy irrigation season to come.

Avoid scenes like this!

If you have or have not given your irrigator a winter service, there are several crucial things that you should check at the beginning and throughout the irrigation season. Some of the simple things to check include:
  • Riser pipe is greased and well lubricated
  • Tower box components are free and not corroded. Depending on the type of alignment your pivot has, there may be points to lubricate. If joints corrode, seize, and fail this will cause your machine to safety out.
  • Alignment is good – when the pivot is running the spans naturally have a bow one way or the other depending on whether it is in forward or reverse. If this bow is always one way, that is a sign that the alignment needs adjustment and excess pressure is being put on spans, towers and the centre point. This can also lead to excessive wheel rutting.
  • No electrical components are exposed. Loose cable glands can let moisture in to electrical components and lead to premature failure.
  • Tyre condition – this one should be pretty obvious
  •  No obvious leaks – leaks should be treated early as can often be fixed by simply tightening components. For example, if a flange joint between span-pipes is leaking, that is a sign to immediately get up and check that the nuts and bolts are all tight – a simple way to avoid a disaster!
  • Visual inspection – anything that doesn’t look right probably isn’t.

Signs of fatigue such as the crack in this base beam bracket should sound alarm-bells!

If you are not comfortable with repairing any of the issues you find with your machine yourself, it is going to be much cheaper to get a service technician to come out and repair it now than it is going to be when it causes your machine to stop working, causes more damage, and affects whatever crop you are irrigating.