EVALUATION OF THE MAINTENANCE PRACTICES IN MECHANIZED AGRICULTURE – SADC REGION
The Southern Africa Development Community countries have embarked on mechanizing their agriculture. It is envisaged on the factual basis that it leads to increased labour productivity, reduction in drudgery, creation of employment in Agriculture and other support sectors and increase in farm income. Given that the SADC Governments’ rural development focus is based on Agriculture at both small and medium scale level, this research was undertaken to uncover research based information that will inform policy during the resurrection of the agricultural mechanization endeavours. This study assessed the maintenance practices in Namibian, South African and Zambian mechanized agriculture and used the Czech mechanized agriculture maintenance practices as a benchmark. Tribotechnical Analysis was used to monitor component structural changes based on the fact that wear deteriorates mating functional surfaces of machine elements leading to poor component functional that negatively impact on the environment and the non-cost effectiveness of mechanization in SADC primary agriculture. A fleet of Massey Fergusson and Zetor tractors were sampled at 100-ltr-diesel consumption interval. Oil total contaminants and Cleveland open cup flash point method was used to evaluate the condition of the lubricant while Direct Reading Ferrograph assessed the ratio share of Small wear particles (Ds), Large wear particles (DL) and the Total Wear Particle Concentration (WPC). Extreme value showing samples from the Direct Reading Ferrograph were further investigated using the Ferrograph Analyzer.
Data were analyzed to generate a baseline based nomogram that is being used as a maintenance support tool. Upon recommendation of this study, Ferrography has been introduced as a cost effective proactive maintenance tool at the Tractor maintenance center in Zambia.