How to Avoid Wheel Loader Transmission Repairs Caused by High-Speed Shifting
In a heavy production environment, wheel loader operators can be under a lot of pressure to keep their numbers up, particularly in the age of labor shortages. One of the most common shortcuts is high-speed shifting, when operators fail to make a complete stop when shifting between forward and reverse.
The average loader operator can make close to 600 such shifts a day, totaling over 200,000 high-speed shifts per year. Blame the “there’s no time to slow down” mindset and misplaced faith that production numbers will outweigh damage to the machine.
It’s common with short-cycle loading for the operator to build up speed, power into the pile, reverse the loader, “shove” it into forward gear and hit the accelerator, or vice versa. The operator loads trucks and hoppers all day and never touches the brakes. The combined weight of the machine with payload and related force and strain gets directed into the drivetrain and torque converter, possibly shortening the life of these components.
A common problem — compounded over time.
In most scenarios, the operator doing the high-speed shifting is not the owner of the machine. And let’s be honest, people don’t usually care about someone else’s property the same way they do their own. But for you owners, as well as fleet managers responsible for keeping a fleet up and running, high-speed shifts can be a major problem and expense.
So, how can you stop these from happening on your site? Here are a few tips:
- Operator training — Teach operators how to handle machines the right way, whether they’re new operators learning the ropes or experienced operators being kept up to date on best practices. Volvo Construction Equipment offers operator training courses various focuses — touching on everything from operating techniques to introductions of specific products by Volvo Operator Training Specialists.
- Opti-Shift and Reverse-by-Braking (RBB) — How about we take operators out of the equation when it comes to high-speed shifts? Volvo loaders size L110H up to L260H come with the Volvo-patented Reverse-By-Braking (RBB) function, not found in competitor loaders. Along with new torque converter with lock-up, RBB creates a direct drive between the engine and transmission. The engine’s rpms automatically decrease and the service brakes applied when it senses the operator is changing the direction of the loader. RBB also uses the standard machine brakes instead of the converter to decelerate the machine — putting less strain on the driveline, saving fuel and giving a smoother change of direction. Learn more in this video:
- Using machine data and Volvo insights — Not every Volvo model has Reverse-by-Braking, so owners and fleet managers will still need to be on the lookout for high-speed shifts. Volvo has a few different services that can help. One is to ask your dealer for a Volvo MATRIS (Machine Tracking Information System) report. It will give you an in-depth look at operator behavior and operation data throughout the life of the machine. Also, telematics can provide insights into machine use and misuse. With CareTrack®, the Volvo telematics system, you can log into a portal and get information that could indicate high-speed shifting is occurring.ActiveCare Direct™, a 24/7 machine monitoring and reporting service, goes a step further. Volvo analysts and a proprietary software sift through all of the Caretrack data for you, prioritize what needs immediate attention and provide recommended solutions. Owners also get monthly fleet utilization reports that provide an overview of fleet and individual machine performance. Among the items on the report are instances of possible machine misuse, including high-speed shiftsInsurance Auto Auctions, Inc. (IAA), a company operating hundreds of wheel loaders across North America, estimated they saved up to $400,000 a year by using ActiveCare Direct to catch instances of high-speed shifting and train operators to brake properly.Their savings is a testament to how costly ignoring high-speed shifts can be for a business. Consider these solutions and avoid unnecessary repairs. If you would like to learn more about the other benefits of ActiveCare Direct and what machines can use it, go to the ActiveCare Direct site.