Any German farmer with many years of experience in harvesting hops with a Wolf Hopfenpflückmaschine will tell you this: Keep her happy and she’ll serve you well. Obviously they’ll say that in German with a strange Bavarian accent but what does this actually mean?
Any type of machine, if agricultural or not needs some level of regular maintenance. The unique thing about harvesting machines is that these machines only operate a fraction of the year. Maybe only 2 weeks of 52 in a year. But when they run, they must operate at highest capacity and mostly full throttle to satisfy the expectations of the farmer and to get the crop of the field in a timely manner. Therefore, the owner expects reliable performance of their machine. In order to achieve that it is important to inspect, identify and repair the equipment far before harvest. There are 2 types of maintenance: Preventative and breakdown maintenance. The second option is not an option for a hop harvester due to the tight harvesting window. But it still happens. But better to be prepared.
In fact, in the old country most farmers have the great habit of cleaning, inspecting and repairing their machine immediately after harvest. That way anything that occurred during harvest is fresh in their minds and they remember what to fix. Another advantage is that build up from the hops, also know as Hopfenkäse is easier to remove before it’s all dried up hopfen cheese.
Here is a quick summary of post harvest maintenance without going into detail:
- Clean the machine top to bottom, inside and out
- Inspect all moving parts especially in locations of friction
- Replace or repair broken and worn parts
- Lubricate chains and bearings
- Test run
- Protect your machine from moisture
That way you can test run your harvesting machine a few weeks before harvest and might only find a seized bearing or so from the time it was sitting around and doing absolutely nothing.
Hopefully you guys enjoyed this article.