14 February 2017, 11:49AM
You’ve invested a lot of money in your new irrigator so don’t cut corners in the final hour by not having it commissioned by an expert.

Commissioning of an irrigator in the handover process is when it gets a thorough checking over in your paddock before the first use and you are taken through all the finer details you need to keep it running at peak efficiency.

Valley service technicians across Australia and the Asia-Pacific are called out to fix many problems that wouldn’t be necessary if the machine had been properly commissioned after installation.

We asked three highly experienced Valley technicians from across Australia and the Asia Pacific to share the biggest issues they see from non-commissioning of machinery. The 8 most common problems are:

1. Incorrect Water pressures

Too high will cost you more in wasted fuel and faster wear and tear but too low can lead to loss of yield in your paddock.

2. Incorrect Tyre Pressures

Most tyres are pumped up for the freight so it is important they are adjusted to the ideal pressures to avoid issues such as bogging or wheel slippage. 

3. Incorrect constants entered into the Control Panel

Incorrect figures can give everyone a false representation of what the machine is really doing so it is important to double check the data is correct.

4. No Safety Circuit Test

If the machine is not correctly earthed or circuited it can cause a lot of damage and, the consequences, can be deadly.

5. Obstacles in the Paddock

This is a common problem that can be due to unknown obstacles such as old hydrants in the field, programing errors or even pests such as mud wasps nests interfering in the accuracy. You don’t want your lateral hitting trees or the house, or your pivot putting water on an area that doesn’t need it.

6. Gearbox breather holes blocked.

The four small holes in the gearbox chamber need to be free of dirt and debris so it can breathe. Sometimes they get covered with paint. If these are blocked the gearbox heat will build up the pressure inside causing seals to leak.

7. Over or under-tightening of parts and nuts.

You are risking jumping issues and damage if parts are unable to move freely, and too loose will cause issues of imbalance and early wear and tear.

8. Loose or crimped wiring connections

This can happen at the factory but be missed during assembly, which is why a commissioning check is essential.

Director of Valley master dealer, TEAM Irrigation, Bob Johnson says it is false economy to skip the commissioning process.

“You might think you are saving money but in the long term it can cost you more,” says Bob.

“You can lose warranty, there can be fights between the contractor and the supplier and it just isn’t worth the headache.”

Valmont’s general manager of sales for NZ and South East Asia, Martin Porter, says loose bolts and incorrect truss alignment are among the most common problems seen when installers use outside labour.

He says something as simple as end guns being nozzled at the wrong pressure can open a whole can of worms.

He warns not having the safety circuits tested with a proper commission can have fatal consequences.

“If a safety measure is not set or working correctly it can cause a lot of damage. Correct earthing of the machine is also critical because the ramifications can be deadly if it is wrong,” says Martin.

Wayne Whitehead, Valley Service Technician says there are many more than these 8 common problems that can go wrong after installation and only an expert is aware of what to look for.

TEAM Irrigation’s Bob Johnson says today’s machines are very high tech so it’s crucial all the information in the computer is exact to obtain the precision you intended when you purchased it.

TEAM Irrigation will check over it, instruct you on how to operate it and give the machine a full dry run, through a complete circuit for a pivot or the full length of the field for a lateral – which could be 3km end to end – to make sure everything is working, including the barrier stops.

“We take responsibility for the whole job from the design, procurement, installation and commission so you only have to deal with one person all the way through,” says Bob.

“We have been on jobs where we have built machines in paddocks and ours have been up and running for a couple of months before the one in the paddock next door which is being built by several different contractors.

“Plus we have an after-sales service so if you ever have any issues down the track we can be out there to get you back up and running on the same day if possible because we know how critical it is to keep you operating.”