The right bucket tooth is one that wears well and evenly, is reliable, doesn’t break and for which there is an abundant supply. Cutting Edges Insights takes a detailed look.
If your mobile earthmoving machines are out of service due to broken or prematurely worn bucket teeth, it is likely you are not using the right type of teeth or adaptors.
As well as causing machine downtime, not using the right bucket teeth or adaptors will also undermine productivity through fuel burn and half-full buckets.
To help you ensure you have the right bucket teeth and adaptors, we have put together the following six-point checklist.
1. Match your bucket teeth to the machine and digging conditions
The size, shape and profile of your bucket teeth must match the adaptors and machine they are fitted to, as well as the digging conditions they will be operating in.
The right bucket tooth profile will penetrate the ground more easily and allow material to flow into the bucket. And full buckets drive productivity.
Undersized or oversized bucket teeth will see your machine struggle to penetrate the ground properly, putting undue stresses on your machine.
Furthermore, some bucket teeth are designed specifically for penetration, or abrasion, while others are general purpose all-rounders. Others are made for loaders, and others for excavators. A tooth that works well on an excavator will have a completely different profile than one used for loaders.
By ensuring you have the right bucket tooth system for your machine and associated digging conditions, you will find the sweet spot to boost productivity and reduce costs.
2. Balance hardness and impact strength
Bucket teeth and adaptors should not break. If they do you might be using the wrong parts or there could be a quality control issue.
Every time you change a bucket tooth it will lead to downtime and production loss. And if the broken component ends up going through the plant then it can cause hundreds of thousands of dollars’ worth of damage.
If you are certain you are using the right bucket teeth for your machine and the digging conditions and are still seeing breakages, then your bucket teeth may be too hard.
Generally, the harder the bucket tooth the better it will wear, however this must be balanced against impact resistance as harder bucket teeth are also more brittle and susceptible to breaking.
It is a balancing act in matching wear properties with impact strength and if you are seeing bucket teeth breakages you may want to talk to your supplier about what mechanical properties they are placing into bucket teeth in the casting process.
3. Match bucket teeth with adaptors:
Bucket teeth and adaptors must be designed to work in unison and if they are not matched correctly you can expect premature wear or breakages.
One adaptor can work with up to around eight different tooth styles, however it’s important to ensure these will meet your intended use.
Furthermore, if an adaptor is worn out, you will see tooth breakages, even if you are using the right bucket teeth for the machine and digging conditions.
Another consideration is matching adaptors to bucket teeth that are in supply.
4. Ensure there is enough supply:
There have been many cases where large and small Australian mining companies have installed bucket teeth adaptors that they cannot source matching teeth for, resulting in idle machines waiting for parts.
This is largely due to Australia being a smaller market with remote sites and low demand, compared with huge and more accessible global sites such as those in Indonesia, however COVID-19 has exacerbated this issue.
If you face this issue, the option is to either wait for your wear parts to arrive or remove the adaptors and replace them with new ones. Both solutions will damage productivity and profit, highlighting the importance of choosing the right adaptor.
Cutting Edges is committed to only providing bucket teeth adaptor systems that can be backed up with long-term bucket teeth supply.
5. Consider the level of supplier support:
Part of ensuring you have appropriate bucket teeth supply is inventory planning and forward ordering to meet projected demand – without ending up with an oversupply of stock and nowhere to store it.
Mobile earthmoving site audits are a critical part of this process, designed to formalise maintenance cycles and identify problem areas.
Some suppliers, such as Cutting Edges, work with you to complete this process and help ensure you have the right bucket teeth and other earthmoving spare parts as and when you need them.
6. Factor Workplace Health and Safety (WHS):
Changing bucket teeth is inherently dangerous, especially when they require a sledgehammer.
There has been a major push in recent years to make bucket teeth systems safer and simpler to install and replace. Cutting Edges’ hammerless R-Lock bucket teeth adaptor system is one such innovative solution.
Another way to drive safety is with high quality, longer-lasting bucket teeth that have longer changeout periods, because “the safest job is the one you don’t have to do”.