CPCS A12 Excavator 180 Above 5 Tonnes Course

1. Introduction

An introduction will be given to the course. This will give an overview of the course, its aims, and objectives, and planned outcomes for trainees. It will also include information on the duration of the course and a brief explanation of the testing structure and the card scheme. This will help the trainee to see what is expected from the course and what they should achieve by the end of it. By giving them this information at the beginning, it helps to set the groundwork and give them a clearer understanding of the course and what they should aim to achieve. This, in turn, will help with the retention of information as the trainee will know what is expected from them and they can work towards meeting these requirements. Trainees will also receive a handbook that follows the course syllabus. This will be a guide for the trainee to work through, which will help them take in information and will also serve as a refresher prior to the theory test. This will help to familiarize the trainees with the testing structure and to help them prepare for the theory test, making them more likely to pass first time.

1.1. Course Overview

The course duration will depend on the plant category and the experience of the candidates. The experienced worker’s course for any category will typically run over 1 day, and tests will usually be carried out the day after training. The novice course durations and test lead-ins will be determined by the number of candidates and range from 1 to 5 days for each category.

This endorsement can be achieved either by an experienced worker taking a CPCS technical test or by a novice completing a plant operators course (theory and practical tests). This course provides the underpinning knowledge and the practical skills training and testing required in order to enable the candidate to progress to either the CPCS technical test or to the NVQ assessment.

This Excavator 180 course is designed to ensure that all plant operators working in a live environment have sufficient knowledge of the construction and capabilities of this type of plant. At the end of the course, the operator will be able to identify the basic construction, controls and components, explain the purpose of the various controls and gauges, and locate and identify the major components.

1.2. Course Objectives

The above outlines the learning objectives throughout the course. Regular theory and practical tests will take place throughout to continually inform the operator of their progression. On passing the CPCS technical tests, then the practical test, the operator’s standard of operation will be deemed safe and proficient in accordance with the above learning objectives and he/she will then be eligible for the CPCS trained operator card (red) endorsed in the various categories stated at the beginning of these course objectives.

By the end of the course the operator should be able to: – Undertake all pre-start and running checks, and operate the machine safely and correctly in accordance with manufacturers’ instructions and accepted good practice. – Fit and operate ancillary equipment. – Site the machine and carry out excavations at varying depths. – Grade, spread and level different types of materials. – Load material into various types of vehicle or into a dumper truck and/or over a range of obstacles i.e. into a trench. – Remove and re-instate a selection of shuttering and/or trench supports. – Place the machine in an out-of-service condition.

This course is designed to provide thorough practical and theory training in operating a 180- above 5 tonnes tracked or wheeled 360° excavator. This course is aimed at inexperienced operators with little or no experience of operating a 360° excavator. On successful completion of the course candidates will be awarded a CPCS trained operator (red) card. Available endorsements: A58/A59.

1.3. Course Duration

Due to our strict training-to-candidate ratio, each training session is 5 days (versus the industry norm of 4). We assign two days to each test (Theory and Practical) and one day at the end of the week for any re-training and/or assessments identified throughout the week. This ensures that the course’s learning objectives can be met within the minimum duration.

Candidates must undergo a minimum of 40 days of training. We offer two options: either 10 days for novice candidates or 5 days for experienced operators. These sessions are not taken as a block; novice candidates will be given the opportunity to gain experience operating the machine before progressing to the next training session. During this time, the candidate will complete a log book provided by CTA/CSO Plant, which must be completed prior to the Theory and Practical Technical Tests.

2. Excavator Safety

Personal protective equipment is designed to protect an operator’s eyes, ears, face, head, and hands, and clothing from the various hazards associated with excavator operations. The operator shall wear a safety helmet, safety boots, ear defenders, and eye protection at all times when operating the machine. The operator shall wear close-fitting clothing and shall not wear gloves when operating the machine. Any operator not wearing the specified PPE will not be allowed to operate the machine. It is the responsibility of the operator to provide their own PPE. All PPE shall conform to the appropriate British/European standard and be marked accordingly. It shall be properly maintained and replaced as necessary and at regular intervals. Nothing shall be done to decrease the protection afforded by the PPE, and it shall be compatible with any other item of PPE being worn. Before work is started, the site must be assessed for its suitability for the type of machine to be used. Who will be operating the machine and whether appropriate training has been undertaken should also be considered. If ground conditions are poor (i.e., soft, wet, steep) and there is potential for the machine to overturn or slide, advice should be sought from the owner of the ground or a competent person (i.e., Engineer) as to whether it is safe to use the machine. This may ultimately mean it is not safe to use the machine, and alternative methods of work will need to be considered. A risk assessment will identify the specific hazards and the control measures required. It should consider the safety of other persons not operating the machine in the vicinity and other site personnel who may be affected by excavator operations.

2.1. Personal Protective Equipment (PPE)

PPE should last for a reasonable amount of time as long as it is properly looked after. The main reasons for PPE becoming ineffective are through being lost or broken. It is the duty of the employer to provide PPE to their employees, and they should also ensure that the PPE is reasonable and appropriate. For example, if you were only required to work near an excavator for a few hours, it is not reasonable for your employer to ask you to purchase a high visibility vest.

If you’re working on a highway, you should ensure that your PPE meets Highways Agency standards and be aware that the client may require you to wear additional PPE such as hearing protection or safety boots with midsoles. Always be aware that there may be additional site-specific requirements for PPE. All persons working near an excavator should wear a hard hat to protect against falling objects and are advised to wear steel-toe boots to reduce the risk of crush injuries to the feet. High visibility clothing should always be worn by persons working around mobile plant to ensure that they are visible to the operator.

PPE is an important consideration when you’re operating or working around an excavator. The minimum PPE for someone operating an excavator includes a hard hat, safety glasses, steel toe boots, and Class 3 reflective vest. All of these items must meet the specifications outlined in the Personal Protective Equipment Regulations 2002. If you’re operating an excavator near traffic, you may also need additional PPE such as ear protection and gloves. Anyone working in an area where there is a risk of being struck by flying debris should wear a visor to ensure their eyes are fully protected. In some situations, such as demolition work, the risk of flying debris may be so severe that a visor alone is not sufficient protection, and it is recommended that the operator wears full face protection in the form of a face shield.

2.2. Excavator Inspection and Maintenance

The inspection and maintenance activity can be subdivided into 4 key areas. Before use checks, servicing and maintenance, work equipment checks, and on-carriage plant checks. Each of these activities is closely related and may be carried out by the same or different competent persons. The extent and nature of the checking and maintenance for an excavator will be highly dependent on the age and condition of the machine and the environment in which it is operating.

Viewed in this context, inspection and maintenance of an excavator (both the On-Carriage and Work tool) is identified as a high risk activity that has the potential to cause multiple types of harm. Therefore, it is essential that the person carrying out this activity has the necessary skill, knowledge, training, and experience to carry out the work without putting himself or others at risk.

It is absolutely essential that an excavator is maintained in a safe condition. Failure to adequately maintain an excavator can be a high risk activity. A used excavator is a high value tool and can be a high risk tool; it is often highly weighted and propelled by tracked drive units. It has many exposed moving parts and because of the work it does, often operates in areas where there are underground services i.e. a high risk of contact with cables and other services. Excavation is an activity which often involves a high risk of overturn particularly if the excavation is laid back on a steep slope. It involves lifting and slinging often with a quick hitch and there is often the risk of a fall of material onto the operator. An excavator at an unsafe or incorrectly maintained condition is a potential danger to people (other workers and public).

2.3. Safe Operating Procedures

Do not use a mobile phone or operate fluids while operating above. Where the site permits, travel with the load. When travelling on the road, comply with the requirements of the Highway Code. In particular: Never load the machine into the travel configuration on the road. Use a plant and machinery escort vehicle, (T1/T2 vehicle with warning beacons and signs), as described in the Code of Practice for Safety at Road Works (COPTTM). In restricted areas or site access by road, long travel distances, or a small number of loading and hauling cycles, a low loader or artic transporter lorry may be the most efficient and practical way to move the machine by road. Check that the machine to be transported is within the legal loading parameters for the vehicle. Follow the advice in HSE publication OC/DE/15/4 “Load security on vehicles – Plant and Machinery”. Operate and park the machine to avoid risk from rolling. Always use the proper parking procedures for the specific machine and slope conditions, engage the park brake device, and use wheel chocks when directed by the manufacturer. Lower the work equipment fully to the ground, tilt the attachment slightly, and turn the machine off. Always remove the ignition key. When working on slopes, consult specific machine operator’s manual for safety notes and procedures. Ensure that operators are in proper training and are qualified to operate the specific machine. This could include a practical test on the machine. Never allow an operation that is unfamiliar or unsafe.

2.4. Hazard Identification and Risk Assessment

Risk assessments allow workers and managers to understand what activity can pose a risk to their safety and health, the nature of the risk, and precautions to be taken to avoid the risk. This is accomplished through a systematic examination of the workplace to identify all activities and factors which may endanger the worker’s safety and health. The basis of risk assessment is the identification of hazards. This is best achieved in a group situation in which a cross section of people involved in the activity take part and is the best way to get workers involved in understanding the risks and ways to avoid injuries. Brainstorm all the possible things that might cause harm, e.g. a worker might trip over the electrical cable, chemicals, people who aren’t really machine operators wandering into the work area. Concentrate on the significant and specific rather than the minor or overgeneralized hazards. Step back and take a look at the larger picture and identify any long-term hazards. Once hazards have been identified, what must be done is to determine who may be harmed. Note that occupational hazards usually include not only workers but also contractor workers, trainees or other students, maintenance workers, clerical staff, etc. Visitors, neighbors, or members of the public might also be affected by your activities. Try to identify whether the hazards are particularly risky because of the group of people involved, e.g. migrant workers who may not understand English very well. A clear understanding of who might be affected by particular activities will make it easier to identify the best way to control the risk.

3. Excavator Controls and Functions

The first main function is the design and control of the digging pattern by moving the machine and positioning the front, and/or rear, in relation to the excavation. This will usually involve the movement and slewing of the upper structure simultaneously with an operation of one or more functions on the dipper arm. Progressive movement of the machine to fill and slew to change its position will lead to inefficient use of the machine and poor results of the job. The function of track machines lends itself to ‘dig and push’ techniques and it is recommended that learners practice changing the line of the machine and digging in different directions with a blade and materials. This will develop a feel for control of the machine and use of combined operations. After a few passes at digging, the machine should have the correct position to carry out the excavation and this position should be maintained, paying attention to the vertical and horizontal alignment of the tracks to prevent slippage. Step one is to move the front or rear of the machine over to the intended position for the excavation. This will be more frequently with the front to dig with a bucket but may be to position the rear for use a compaction plate or other rear tool. The main operations involved in above are: Track Movement, Dozer and Blade Operations, Front Shovel Excavating and Manoeuvring, Rear Excavating and Tool Change.

An excavator has many components, and to produce consistent results, it is important that they are used correctly in relation to each other. Before attempting to operate the machine, trainees should familiarize themselves with the function of each component and the control layout. Manufacturers’ brochures and operator’s manuals will give details of components and control functions for specific machines, and if a machine is unfamiliar to the instructor, these should be referred to. Modern machines have a large variety of attachments and accessories, which may be operated in several different ways. For the purpose of this training, we can classify actuators for attachments as hydraulic or mechanical, and it is essential that trainees understand the function and mode of operation of each, as misuse can cause damage or unsafe situations.

3.1. Understanding Excavator Components

Compact excavators have an assembly much like a full-sized, free-sitting backhoe, and they have the same purpose and functionality with some exceptions on the capabilities of the larger machines. This assembly is referred to as a backhoe mounted to an excavator – this is really a backhoe attachment suitably mounted on the earlier mentioned quick coupler and long arm configuration. This takes the capability of a compact excavator to a higher level for a certain task, but the detachment and rear installation of the backhoe assembly limits the overall purpose of the compact excavator with it essentially becoming a backhoe in mobility.

A backhoe is an excavator with an arm that moves in an inward motion to dig, particularly to quite shallow depths, then a standard reaching movement. The backhoe is most typical in the form of a tractor. This is a general-purpose machine that can be transported easily on a trailer. It can be quick to be backhoe from one site to another, and access into a digging site is easy. With these advantages, it is especially useful for small construction.


A typical backhoe has the following distinct parts: a boom, dipper stick, bucket, and a cabin that sits on a platform with wheels or tracks. In modern construction, backhoes are almost always equipped with wheels. It is unusual to find tires to be more effective than railway wheels and too inflexible to be of more use than tracks, but more mobile than what is needed for continuous track-type crawlers. The digger and its assembly is a vehicle – machinery – the term excavator is often used to roll together the function of a self-propelled assembly and machinery. Some backhoes have hydraulic cause attachments at the rear to be mounted to the boom rather than fixed with a busing and pin as used for direct mount – this allows wear and tear to be minimized by systematic changeovers.

Typical excavator

Generally, an excavator offers only one substitute for the standard digging bucket – some form of ditching or cleanup tool. This means that the machine is dedicated to a particular range of duties. It is often possible to use large hydraulic machines with a quick-coupler to change between the standard arm and a long reach configuration bucket, and this extends their flexibility further. Mini-excavators typically have a selection of backfill blade attachments. Several companies include the option of a hydraulic thumb which is very useful for versatility in attachment style. This simple accessory often allows the same bucket to be used for a greater range of tasks, saving the expense of additional standard buckets or coupler-mounted buckets. Long reach assemblies will have their own range of attachments and will be designed specifically for the expected tasks.


3.2. Operating Excavator Controls

It is important that the operator familiarizes themselves with the specific excavator controls and functions. Although the format and operations of the controls may vary according to the make, model, and manufacturer of the excavator, the basic fundamental principles are the same. The main controls operate the slew-brake, the track-brake, and the combined travel levers. These controls determine the direction and speed the excavator will move in. Above those controls, on the right side, are usually two levers that operate the boom. The upper lever controls the lifting of the boom and the lower lever controls the curl or tilt movement of the bucket. The bucket control will be either a lever or pedal mechanism. On the floor, there will be two pedals to control the track movement. The left side track control is operated by the left-hand pedal, and the right track control is operated by the right pedal. There may also be extra controls for angle blade, dozer, and other attachments. Some excavators have a backhoe configuration and therefore have different controls for the front loader bucket and rear digging bucket.

3.3. Excavator Attachments and Accessories

Use of attachments: Safe use of attachments on different materials with correct bucket curl. Tooth selection for ground conditions and material to be loosened or loaded. Comparison of digging rates between standard bucket and grading bucket on wet ground. Efficiency of ditching or grading bucket in relation to the angle of tilt and depth. Use of a riddle bucket, rake, or sorting grab for sifting and sorting. Use of a selector grab or timber grab for demolition or handling large objects.

Quick hitch: Use of quick hitch, with power on and power off mechanisms. Ensuring attachment is fully engaged. Use of the bucket to check the front pin retention. Fitting of rear safety pin or manual hitch. Changing attachments and use of the safety holding area.

Buckets: Anatomy of a bucket; teeth adaptors, lip and side shrouds are frequently replaced due to wear. Cracked, bent or worn spheroidal graphite (nodular) cast iron bucket is likely to fracture without warning and should never be repaired by welding. Impact abrasion and high-stress abrasion on different areas of the bucket. Severe abrasive wear from handling sand at a high dump angle. General purpose and heavy-duty bucket capabilities. Bucket selection for different ground conditions.

4. Excavator Operations

The section for trenching and backfilling will demonstrate the best practice for achieving the desired size and shape of a trench using the least amount of effort. Getting in and out of the trench is something that must be done safely and efficiently, and trench access and egress will be taught step by step. There are many considerations to make before and during a trenching or backfilling operation, and with the knowledge gained from this module, the candidate will be able to do it right.

Excavating is the most common of all earth-moving activities. Whether it’s a trench for utilities, a hole for planting a tree, or an embankment for a road, the general process of digging a hole is the same. The candidate will be shown effective techniques for digging a square and level hole as this is the basis for all other excavations. Sloping and benching is also an important concept to grasp, and the candidate will be taught how to calculate and achieve the correct dimensions for a safe excavation. Loading techniques involve transferring material from one place to another, usually from the ground into a transport vehicle. This may be required in many different situations, and the candidate will learn the best techniques for this using both the front shovel and backhoe methods. In certain instances, it may be more beneficial to drag material as opposed to lifting it, and there are specific techniques to achieve this.

An excavator is a mobile machine that can be used in many different ways. It consists of a boom, stick, bucket, and cab on a rotating platform known as the “house”. The house sits on an undercarriage with tracks or wheels. Excavators are the most popular item of construction plant in the world, and the uses for an excavator are not confined to digging. There are many different attachments available for an excavator which will enable it to perform many different tasks. This module will serve to teach the candidate how to operate an excavator safely and effectively.

4.1. Excavating and Loading Techniques

Avoid driving the machine onto the face of the excavation. Do not undercut. When tracking across a slope, the upper tracks are likely to ride up, causing the machine to slew. This will result in track damage and a dangerous situation. When backtracking, it is likely that the machine will slide in the direction of the track at the front end. Overloading the bucket will cause track damage and exacerbate the situation. Step back the bucket loads when working up a slope. When working in a confined area always plan the spoil heap location carefully. Do not overreach; it is less stressful on the machine to move closer to the excavation. Try and work in line with the tracks wherever possible. If working across a slope, situate the spoil heap on the downward side of the machine. This will enable safe machine travel and avoid any risk of the machine following the spoil downhill. If finish grading, travel slowly and do not overreach. Back blade dozing is often more efficient than trying to complete the excavation with the bucket.

4.2. Trenching and Backfilling

During trenching, you should position the machine to give the greatest advantage to its excavation capability. Align the tracks so that the excavator is square to the trench. This will reduce the risk of the machine overreaching. As the trench deepens, lower the track frame progressively into the trench. This will reduce the risk of the machine over-tipping. If trenches are being dug in sequence, spoil heaps should be positioned to give adequate space for the slewing and tracking of the machine. This will increase productivity. When loading to remove the excavated material from the trench, reach back as far as possible, ensure the bucket is filled, and travel in a straight line. If loading into a truck, position the truck so that it is in line and as close to the machine as possible. Avoid loading across the machine as this will unbalance it. Dump the spoil evenly in piles on either side of the trench to maintain the balance of the machine. If loading into a dumper behind the trench, position the dumper as close to the work area as possible to avoid carrying the load too far.

4.3. Lifting and Moving Materials

The second exercise, “Handling on Site,” is suitable for all levels of experience. It is carried out in a location that provides the opportunity to move heavy items with the machine and to set up and change its working attachments. Prepare the work site by identifying four items that can be moved or set in succession, each to a different location within the work area. Item selection should allow for a variety of lifting methods and machine positioning, without the necessity to travel long distances with a load raised. These exercises are beneficial for any operator wanting to develop their skills in lifting and moving.

If a lifting accessory is not available, conventional lifting with two chains or slings passed directly beneath the load and attached to the bucket is acceptable. The block or vehicle can be raised using an appropriate lifting technique. Be mindful not to overload the machine and be prepared to halt the lifting process to lower the load and reposition attachments if stability is uncertain. Timbers can be lifted using a belt strop passed through and around the load, slung back to the bucket, and attached using a girth hitch. With the load in the raised position, set it down precisely where you want it using the equipment in a static position. This will require smooth and careful coordination of the equipment’s functions, combined with good visibility of the surrounding area and a clear mental picture of the finished task. The exercise is completed when all materials have been lifted, moved, and set into a slashed or ramped area with the machine positioned for the next task.

The next two exercises deal with handling techniques. The first exercise, “Lifting and Moving,” is explained in the following way. Set up the exercise for medium levels of experience. The requirements are a pinch bar, a large concrete block or compact car, and a stock of timber suitable for cribbing the load. Using either the concrete block or car, prepare the materials for lifting by digging the blade underneath and into the center of the item you are going to lift. Once dug in, roll the item onto an old conveyor belt or similar to enable easy and smooth movement over the ground. The next step is to get the load into the raised position using a suitable lifting accessory. Sling the load correctly, ensuring that it is balanced and secure.

4.4. Excavator Stability and Balance

When it comes to the stability and balance of excavators, there are a few hazards that must be avoided to prevent the front end of an excavator tipping forward into the trench or hole. It also must not slide or tip sideways, either into an excavation or a side trench. These two scenarios are the most common causes of excavator accidents and can be prevented by assessing the excavation and the machine’s suitability for the job. If the ground is soft, wet, steep, or unstable in any way, then the risk of an accident is greatly increased. In these conditions, other methods of excavation should be considered. It is important to ensure that tracks are clear of and away from the edge of the excavation and that the machine is square to the work with the heaviest equipment being kept nearest to the machine. When working on the edge of an embankment or a trench, it is important to dig vertically below the edge and not to overload the machine on one side. An excavator’s stability decreases rapidly with increased height, and it’s important to not lift heavy materials or equipment higher than necessary. If an excavator cannot reach an excavation without operating on a dangerous slope, then a ramp should be built. The feasibility of this should be considered with the quantity of material to be moved and whether it will be efficient, and it should be stepped if the slope is too steep to prevent the machine sliding. If an excavation is simply too dangerous to enter, then there are numerous methods to excavate from a distance including long reach excavators, piling rigs, and push-pull sheeting. Finally, a stability checklist should be carried out regularly to renew safety certifications and to ensure the safety of workers.

5. Excavator Maintenance and Troubleshooting

A regular pre-start inspection should be carried out to ensure that the machine is in safe working condition and to identify any damage, defects, or excessive wear. The operator manual will contain daily/weekly/monthly inspection checklists which should be followed. It is important that these checks are carried out with the engine off. Any defects or problems that are identified should be recorded and reported, and the machine should not be used until the issue has been addressed.

Daily/Pre-start checks

The best maintenance you can do is preventative maintenance. This will stop defects or breakdowns from occurring and is usually a lot cheaper and easier than fixing something after it has gone wrong. Identifying when something is wearing out and replacing it before it causes a problem is a key part of maintenance.

General Safety Equipment Awareness

Routine Maintenance Procedures

Next to safety, maintaining and checking the condition of the machine is very important. Defects or wear and tear can lead to unsafe situations and also eventually damage the machine, so a well-maintained machine is an important part of safe working. This module will explain the methods of carrying out basic maintenance checks and procedures, how to identify when parts are worn or in need of repair, and what to do if a problem is identified.

5.1. Routine Maintenance Procedures

Excavator maintenance is very important for every tool or vehicle. Maintenance is a way to elongate the life of the excavator. If you do the maintenance regularly, it will give good prolonged life. On the contrary, it will easily get damaged and it will reduce the work efficiency. To maintain the efficiency and productivity, excavator maintenance should be done regularly. Usually, every company will apply the Standard Operating Procedure (SOP) to maintain their equipment, and of course, they have a different way to maintain the equipment. But the most important thing is how we know the standard procedure to maintain the excavator, so it can be applied in every condition and situation. Excavator maintenance has several kinds of work: – Changing the diesel fuel (refueling). Refueling is an easy work but it has to be careful. You must be careful in pouring the fuel into the tank. Avoid spillage outside of the tank because it will have consequences and be dangerous. Refueling is very important to avoid the fuel tank being rusted because of decreased humidity. Also, we must clean the filter to avoid the dirt in the tank from filling into the injection component. – Checking the pump and the engine. Checking the pump valve to avoid leaks in the hydraulic system. And also, you have to check the engine components, like the tightness of the belt and leaks in the cooling system. – Doing welding and reinforcement in the event of broken parts before damage by using a welding machine and drilling for plug and drilled components that are damaged. This is done rather than replacing with new parts because it doesn’t necessarily need considerable cost. – Changing the engine oil. Oil is an essential component in the engine. Oil serves as a detergent for engine components, so the oil can be said to be comparable to preserving the health of a human being. It means that the oil in the machine must always be kept clean and regularly changed.

5.2. Identifying and Addressing Common Issues

Travel or maneuvering: Poor performance, insufficient power, speed or pushing power. Increased fuel consumption. Noise coming from under the floor.

Track and swing motors: Poor performance, insufficient power, slow or sluggish operation. Unusual noises: clicking, knocking or high pitched whining.

Engine: Hard to start, using starting aid, noisy on start up. Poor performance, consuming more fuel, lack of power or black smoke.

There are a variety of common problems encountered in excavator operation. These can be quite minor but also very costly if not rectified methodically. They can occur during the operation or during the machine’s idle time. The latter sometimes goes unnoticed as it does not affect the machine’s performance but can slowly cause reliability problems. Following is a systematic approach to troubleshooting these problems. Always be observant when operating the machine before and after the problem occurs.

Learning outcomes: (a) The delegate will be able to identify common excavator problems and mission failure. (b) The delegate will be able to list the possible causes of common excavator problems and mission failure. (c) The delegate will be able to plan a corrective procedure. (d) The delegate will be able to apply the maintenance and repair techniques learned during the course.

5.3. Troubleshooting Techniques

Now, up to this point we have spent a lot of time and effort on maintaining our excavator in a way that prevents problems from developing in the first place. Sadly, however, this is not a perfect world, and sometimes things do go wrong, despite our best efforts. As an experienced operator, you must develop as broad an understanding as possible of what can go wrong, when and why, and what you can do to put it right in the shortest possible time. We can recapture some of these experiences by deliberately causing problems on the machine in a controlled environment, and practicing to remove and replace components, perhaps even methods of repair, using methods which do not compromise safety. But no matter how we do this, when working in the real world, in the intended excavation environment, problems will still occur at the most inconvenient times, often far from home, and perhaps queueing a veil of customer irritation! Our aim here is to develop a logical approach to rectifying these problems. We have already stated that digging the trench or spoil placement are best remedied by pre-planning and doing it right the first time. For your machine, doing it right the first time means correct and timely maintenance, but throughout this chapter we have been focused on the job in hand; would you confirm maintenance is best based on scheduled machine availability? Should a preventive approach to problem solving be adopted, this is best done by regular inspection of machine systems when in good health, with the aim to detect issues before failure occurs. An ear for changes in machine noise, or a change in the way a lever feels or operates, is often the best indication that there is a problem. Prompt action upon discovery of a problem is well advised; using the excuse that it’s not yet affecting machine operation is a false economy, as remedies are often simpler and cheaper if the problem is not allowed to escalate. In saying this, we must acknowledge that some problems will still occur without warning, and in the absence of a perished component or obvious damage, the operator may not be able to pinpoint the cause of a machine malfunction.