Broken or overly worn bucket teeth that need to be urgently replaced is a common source of frustration for those in the earthmoving game.
Unplanned maintenance and machinery downtime is a costly exercise and so a key focus should be ensuring the right bucket teeth and other ground engaging tools are supplied for machines and their operating conditions.
Why am I breaking or losing bucket teeth?
The most probable cause of broken bucket teeth, or one lost in service, is a worn adaptor nose, however digging conditions and operator skill can also cause broken bucket teeth.
Firstly, consider the frequency of your broken bucket teeth. Earthmoving is not an exact art and breakages can and do happen, however if you are constantly breaking or losing bucket teeth, you have a problem.
The breakage point can offer some insight into the cause of the break, however the most tell-tale sign that the culprit is your adaptor nose is when you fit another tooth on the adaptor. If it is a poor
fit with lots of movement between the tooth and the adaptor, then that is likely to be your issue.
The bucket tooth should fit snugly on the adaptor. If there is excess “play” or movement, then it will likely lead to broken teeth, lost teeth or broken adaptors.
If you have eliminated the adaptor nose as a culprit then next you should consider whether the bucket teeth are suitable for the machine and the digging conditions.
If you are running with a profile that doesn’t suit the machine or digging conditions, breakages are more likely to occur.
Analysing Bucket Teeth Wear Patterns
With bucket teeth costs measured in lost production time, rather than the actual cost of the part, anything that can minimise both planned or unplanned downtime should be welcomed.
The type of material you are digging is the biggest factor that will cause your bucket teeth to wear. Obviously, if you are digging into rock and other high impact or abrasive material, you will see much faster wear than if you are digging into dirt.
In fact, bucket teeth in some West Australian mines only last a few days before requiring replacement. And if you operate your machine with worn bucket teeth, you will see reduced productivity, higher fuel burn and risk of damaging the adaptor nose and facing even more significant downtime and unplanned maintenance.
One way to assess your bucket teeth performance is to analyse wear patterns. If you are facing premature wear or spot wear you should review tooth profiles, operating conditions and digging processes.
You might decide that changing to a penetration tooth or abrasion resistant tooth will result in better performance. Or you might discover that the uneven wear is simply a result of how the machine needs to operate to move the dirt. In this case, you might modify your tooth profile to one with additional material in the high wear area, and/or add a hard-face Tungsten Longlife Coating (TLC) to deliver better wear performance where it is required.
This will serve to increase the times between those maintenance schedules and will also mean you are not throwing away perfectly good bucket teeth that would still be serviceable except for that one area that has worn prematurely.
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