Compact track machines serve as a useful solution for a variety of applications. Compact track loaders are ideal for heavy-duty applications that involve rocks and debris providing you with the smoothest ride available, while multi terrain loaders are ideal for applications in which there needs to be minimal ground disturbance, such as golf course landscaping. Although track machines can serve as a vital part of an operation’s fleet, many owners are concerned with the costs often associated with maintaining and servicing the undercarriage.
The good news is that a majority of these costs can be controlled with proper maintenance and operation. You can extend the life of your undercarriage by adhering to a few simple steps and tips:
Maximize the life of your tracks with more gradual 3-point turns.
Reduce wear by moving up and down a slope instead of across it.
Make sure your operators are experienced on track machines.
Avoid loose tracks, as they can cause lug damage and derailment.
Make sure the tracks aren’t too tight, as they can increase wear on the tracks, roller wheels, sprockets and drive motors.
Clean the machine’s undercarriage at the end of each workday.
While the majority of track machine owning and operating costs can be controlled, application, underfoot conditions and hours of operation make up the remainder of the uncontrollable costs. A critical factor for selection should be the hours of operation the project will demand. Applications that require increased torque and horsepower can cause more wear on the undercarriage than others. Excavation and dozing are harder on tracks than jobs like trenching and grading. Underfoot conditions on the jobsite also play a role in the life of your undercarriage—the more abrasive the material and the more hours the project demands, the faster they wear. Rocky, jagged material and construction debris cause the most wear, while softer surfaces like soil, turf and snow are going to be easier on your tracks. This is when choosing the right tracks, based on application and terrain, is of utmost importance to help manage costs.
Some manufacturers offer several tiers of rubber track solutions, so it’s always a good idea to research your options. First, consider your hours of operation. If you are operating your machine more than 500 hours per year, you probably want to equip it with the manufacturer’s most durable tracks. It’s also important to factor in the underfoot conditions. Standard or general duty tracks are better suited for smoother terrain, such as golf course applications in which minimal ground disturbance is important. Highly durable tracks embedded with metal are ideal on rocky or bumpy underfoot conditions. The undercarriage torsion axle suspension contributes to a smoother ride ensuring more material is retained in the bucket. Across the board, it is essential to match the tracks with the machine and undercarriage so the components work as a united system to maximize performance.
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I am an Industry and Application Rep for Caterpillar. I graduated from NC State with a dual degree in Agriculture Business Management and Agriculture Science, concentrating in Leadership and Environmental Technologies. I focus primarily on the relationships between customers, dealers, and the product specialists for the Building Construction Products division. Growing up on a tobacco and beef cattle farm, I have several years of machine operation experience and agricultural knowledge. Thomas Jefferson said it best in that, "Agriculture is our wisest pursuit, because it will in the end contribute most to real wealth, good morals, and happiness."
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Jeff Brown is a marketing professional for Caterpillar Skid Steer, Multi Terrain and Compact Track Loaders. Over Jeff's 12 years in the industry, he has visited with and studied the needs of customers across landscaping, construction, and agriculture segments. Delivering innovative solutions that solve customer's problems is Jeff's main focus.
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