Harvest Equipment Maintenance | Farm Safety | Geringhoff

As wintertime approaches, it’s the right time to prep and store harvest equipment so it’s ready to go next year. Of course, for those in warmer climates who harvest all year, the storage part is a little different.

However, in either situation, successful farmers take great pride in ownership, and they know ongoing harvest equipment maintenance is just as important as a season-ending routine.

It’s always good to know the equipment and take advantage of the tips and techniques in the owner’s manual or service manual that came with it. Good maintenance starts with inspecting machinery regularly, before and after harvest. This is the perfect time to replace wear parts as needed and adjust components to the specifications provided in the manual.

There’s no surprise that routine service includes checking and managing all lubricants and fluids, filters, cleaners and greasing. Plus, another good thing to remember is that it’s always wise to keep equipment clean, including hot surfaces being kept free of oil and debris. For winter storage, clean equipment with air and avoid using water when it can get into spaces that can rust. A cloth wipe-down helps, too.

That’s some of the standard stuff, but as usual, a few simple steps can make a big difference in the life of the equipment that helps keep you going.

At Geringhoff, we’re always here to help. So, feel free to contact your dealer for service as needed or call one of our specialists at 1-888-721-1340 during regular business hours, or email service@geringhoff.com.
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While you work to maintain equipment, please be sure to practice everyday safety tips that help prevent accidents. Routine fix-ups and safety reminders can seem obvious, but we truly appreciate our relationship and simply wish you a happy, healthy, injury-free work environment.

As you know, most equipment maintenance accidents are caused by taking shortcuts, and by making mistakes when tired, distracted or hurried. So, take your time, and it’s never a bad idea to refer to a checklist like the following, paraphrased from sensible guidelines, compliments of Texas State University, Rutgers Cooperative Extension, and Ohio State University Extension:

  • Be well rested, take breaks and be sure to wear appropriate clothing and avoid baggy, loose-fitting items or accessories like rings and chains
  • Include appropriate eye, ear, and face or head protection
  • Avoid alcohol and controlled substances when working
  • Clear others from work areas unless they’re actively involved
  • Keep all guards, shields, and access doors in place when the equipment is in operation, and in general keep equipment shut off and cooled down during maintenance, with brakes on and transmission in park or lock
  • Replace worn or broken parts as soon as possible
  • Keep hydraulic couplings and hoses in good repair, and remember that a broken hose can exert enough force to cause serious injury
  • With the noise associated with equipment, tools and maintenance, it’s good for co-workers to know common hand signals provided by the American Society of Agricultural Engineers – search ‘ASAE hand signals’ for this free resource

This is not an exhaustive discussion of safety practices, simply some friendly reminders to keep top of mind. Let’s face it, sharing common, preventive tips can help prevent accidents.

Now that we’ve completed this little refresher on some preventive maintenance and safety tips, let’s move to more urgent or unexpected repairs needed on the spot, while operating. That is, when the season winds down, there can be a tendency to keep pushing on, trying to get things done, and dealing with maintenance later.

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However, as they say, sometimes there’s no time like the present, especially when you want to avoid a bigger repair situation later

Check out this related insight from The Bader family of DK Harvesting as they agree with a pro-active approach:

“I’ve got used headers and new headers. If you don’t know how to run a wrench, you shouldn’t be in this business,” says Koby Bader, DK Harvesting.

Brother Damon Bader specializes in maintenance, and this custom harvesting team says it’s priceless to have their farm equipment mechanic with them the entire season. They can stay up and running without having to wait on dealers to do repairs.

“Having the mechanic sitting in the cab really makes the business run. They all pull together and it really shows,” says father Connie Bader.

However, regular, post-harvest maintenance is still really important. Brothers from Beetz Farms in Mendota, Ill., are tough on their Geringhoff corn headers, they say. However, they describe how special treatment in the off-season helps the corn harvesting equipment remain dependable and last a long time:

“We do more than most, I would say. Everything gets washed and greased, along with new bearings,” says Jeremy Beetz. “We usually replace the sprockets every year.”

Jeremy Beetz adds, “We haven’t broken a chain, we haven’t broken anything. We take all the deck plates off to clean behind them, paint everything and put them back on.”

They say that their 2010 heads had 10,000 acres on them, and even then, they didn’t have to get new chains on anything for the first five years.

Some say that prevention is a cure. The Bader and Beetz families might agree. If preventive safety tips, regular maintenance, and pro-active repairs help mitigate equipment failure and maximize well-being, then that may be a cure well worth pursuing.

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