Operating Excavators on a Slope

Working on slopes can be a challenging operation even for the most highly skilled workforce, it requires knowledge and understanding of the terrain. Excavators are exceptional tools and when being manned by experienced operators they are an excellent machine to use on slopes. Here are a number of tips to help operate machinery on an incline a lot safer. 

Examine the conditions of the hill

One of the first tasks to be carried out is to assess the job site and the involved in the project. Various weather conditions can impact the safety and stability of a slope as factors such as snow, ice, mud, and rain can jeopardise the machines’ ability to operate.  It is best practice to stay updated on the weather conditions and keep in mind what the terrain may be like the days after a downpour. Although projects can have a tight deadline, waiting a day or two to allow the ground to improve will help avoid any possible risks of slips or overturns.

Use the right machine

It is important in any situation to use the correct machine for the job. When it comes to excavators a long reach excavator is the better option for slopes and angled digging. This means the machine can stay on the flat and stable ground whilst the long digging arm does the work making them the perfect machine for the task.   Another option is the spider excavator, designed to conquer the difficult terrain of the Alpine slopes this machine was created for a steep decline.

Use the 70% rule

Even excavators have their limitations and a principle to bear in mind is the 70% rule.  A 70% slope grade is the equivalent to a 35-degree angle, and an excavator should not be operated on such terrain to avoid slips or overturns. If the hill is steep enough to make you question it get a professional to survey it.

Use experienced operators

Operating a machine on a slope is a skill that comes with time and experience, it is not a task for the new guy. The expertise it takes to manoeuvre and coordinate an excavator is best left to the professionals, if you are not comfortable do not operate. When operating an excavator on a slop focus and attention to detail is a must as there is a lot of coordination and thinking involved as the operator uses their feet to move the travel motors while using their hands to navigate the machine.

Chose the right track and direction

Ensuring your tracks are pointed in the correct direction is crucial, they must be pointed up and down not sideways when operating on a slope. Ideally, you want more weight behind you to balance the heavy motor drive. Idlers bear the force of the energy generated when digging therefore they need to be pointed down the slope.

Protect your engine

The usual engine configurations are limited to a 30-degree incline due to lubrication, ensure you do not surpass that gradation for extended periods of time. Operating on a decline makes it harder for the engine to pump oil to the top of the motor which leads to starvation and lowers the lifespan of the equipment.

Check the equipment positioning

When travelling uphill positioning the boom & arm correctly can help massively. Stretching out the arm and keeping the boom low to the slope distributes the weight of the excavator and keeps it balanced when travelling up. You can also put the bucket teeth into the ground and use the arm to help you climb.

At Omnia Machinery, all of our heavy plant machinery is inspected before being prepared for shipment enabling you to buy in confidence. Browse our wide selection of excavators below from leading brands such as LiebherrHitachiHyundai and Komatsu. If you have specific requirements for your excavator that are not shown below, please do not hesitate to contact our knowledgeable team who can help to source the perfect machine for you. Before shipment, we always ensure that our machines are up-to-date and are fully tested. Should you require something more specialist, please contact us and our expert team will aim to source the machine required for your project.