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Hitachi Construction Machinery - North America

Safe Slope Operation

January 10, 2020

A Hitachi ZX160LC-5 works on a slope project.

Hitachi excavators are built with efficiency, reliability and durability to tackle tough jobs. However, operators should always take extra care when working on slopes.

Matt Hendry, product specialist for Hitachi, offers some tips for safe operation.

    1. Choose the right track type.
      Single bar grousers offer the best traction for slope work; they’re like dozer tracks and will penetrate for traction. They will also help hold the excavator on the slope. Triple bar grousers are good for flat and reasonable slopes, but they can slide once you get into the one-to-one and steeper slopes.
    2. Check your track direction.
      Correct track orientation is crucial for safe slope work. Be sure your tracks are pointed up and down when working on the slope – not sideways. Idlers should be forward for uphill work and pointed down slope for downhill work.
    3. Use the boom and arm position to your benefit for uphill travel.
      I recommend stretching out the arm and keeping the boom down low to the slope. Stretch the bucket and boom out, get the weight of the bucket and boom well forward of the machine, then walk your way up. You can also put the bucket teeth in the ground and use the arm to help pull you up.
    4. Adjust your effort on the controls.
      When operators are digging on a slope, they need to adjust how much effort is put into the controls. When you get off-level, an unskilled operator can get into trouble quickly. A skilled operator develops a good feel for the controls.
    5. Understand the grade to protect your engine.
      Typical engine configurations are limited to a 30-degree or 70-percent slope for lubrication of the engine. Make sure that you are not exceeding that gradation for long periods of time. You only have so much depth and oil in your sump. On severe slopes, it’s hard for the engine to pump that oil to the top of the motor. This results in starvation to the top of the engine and reduces engine life expectancy.

Contact your local Hitachi dealer for more tips and to help choose the best excavator for your slope work.