We asked experts from several leading companies: “If there’s one thing you could remind tree care professionals about maintaining their vegetation management equipment properly, what would it be?”

Here’s what they had to say:

Casey Gross
Tree Care Business Unit Director/Morbark

Don’t overlook the heart of the machines — the cutting mechanism. The knives need to be looked at every day. They cut up against the anvil or cutter bar, and if this is overlooked, the machine will perform poorly. Yes, it will still work, but it’s hard on the machine and will decrease its life. So, to make sure that your chipper performs to the optimum performance, you have to check that your knives are sharp and adjusted properly to the anvil.

Steve Talaga
Product Manager/Barko Hydraulics

Follow a solid, preventive maintenance program. Barko recommends performing a preoperative inspection each day before using machines, which includes checking fluids, greasing lubrication points, removing debris, cleaning out radiators and other items listed in service manuals. Regular maintenance intervals are also important, especially replacing fluids and filters on schedule. Barko has made it easy to understand what needs to be replaced by offering uptime kits that coincide with that regular maintenance. Also, remember to fix small issues before they become large issues.

Mike Balkom
National Sales Manager/Progress Rail Services

Preventive maintenance is critical to achieving optimal equipment life. The manufacturer’s manual serves as your best resource for tapping into the information needed to start an effective program. This manual will contain recommended operating instructions and maintenance intervals for all crucial components. Pay close attention to the factory-recommended fluids and filter change intervals associated with the engine and hydraulic components. Daily inspections are recommended, as they help prevent unplanned downtime by identifying worn or damaged parts before they fail. Lastly, keep it clean. Ensure your equipment remains thoroughly cleaned by following factory-specified intervals for daily and weekly operations. A high-pressure spray washer is a great investment and a necessity for off-road utility equipment.

Bill Schafer
Product Development Supervisor/ Loftness

Keep the cutting tools sharp. For example, more vegetation management professionals are starting to use knives instead of carbide teeth on their mulching heads. Knives are more aggressive and do offer greater performance, but unlike carbide teeth, they require regular sharpening to enjoy the most efficiency. When the knives aren’t sharp, operators and customers typically aren’t as happy with the performance of the equipment. This advice isn’t limited to mulching heads, however. Any vegetation management equipment that uses a sharp edge will benefit from regularly sharpening or replacing the cutting tools as needed.

Ross Hershman
Service Manager/efco

It’s all about routine maintenance. It happens to everyone — you get busy with bidding work, completing jobs, daily business administration and weather delays … soon, you find yourself running behind. To save time, you might let some things go to get caught up. One of those shortcuts might be maintenance on your equipment, but it will eventually come back to bite you. Take for example a chain saw: There’s nothing more frustrating than being on a job and it’s hard starting, providing poor performance, or worse, it breaks. Taking the time to give it “the onceover” will save you time in the long run. Following the manufacturer’s maintenance schedule will help minimize your equipment downtime and keep you productive.

Heidi Boyum
President, CEO/ Jarraff Industries

Daily inspections are important. Check for leaks and repair and tighten or replace loose fasteners. Check all fluids and fill as needed. Keep your machines clean and do regular filter and oil changes, as well as replace or repair any damaged parts. Following regular maintenance intervals is one of the most important parts of maintaining equipment properly. If in doubt of whether a component is worn to the point it needs to be replaced, it’s always best to replace it as a preventive measure. Follow all directives in your service manuals. Editor’s note: This response was provided by Jarraff’s parts/service dept. professionals.

Robb Fanno
Owner/Fanno Saw Works

A thorough, pre-job tool inspection is necessary for maximum production and safety. Always check a tool’s handle and head for any damage or weakness. Make sure the tool’s cutting blade is sharp and cleaned. In addition, keep an eye out for any cutting tools that have guards for safety in storage and transportation. Always have available the proper personal protective equipment.