Utility Contractor

MAR-APR 2018

As the official magazine of NUCA, Utility Contractor presents the latest information affecting every aspect of the utility construction industry, including technological advancements, safety issues, legislative developments and instructional advice.

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22 Utility Contractor | March/April 2018 During a routine machine walk-around inspection, op- erators should check the tracks to see if any components look out of place. If so, this could indicate a loose track pad or possibly a broken track pin. In addition, they should inspect the rollers, idlers and drives for oil leakage. These oil leaks could indicate a failed seal which could lead to a major failure in the rollers, idlers or track drive motors. Always follow your manufacturer's Operation and Main- tenance Manual for proper undercarriage maintenance. Tip No. 3: Follow Basic Practices Certain construction jobsite tasks can create more wear on excavator tracks and undercarriages than other applica- tions, so it is important that operators adhere to the manu- facturer's recommended operating procedures. According to Reardon, some tips that can help minimize track and undercarriage wear include: • Make wider turns: Sharp turns or pivoting the ma- chine can lead to accelerated wear and increase the po- tential for de-tracking. • Minimize time on slopes: Constant operation on a slope or hill in one direction can accelerate wear. How- ever, many applications require slope or hillside work, so when moving the machine up or down a hill, make sure that the drive motor is in the correct position to reduce track wear. According to Reardon, the drive mo- tor should be facing the back of the machine for easy maneuverability up a slope or hill. • Avoid harsh environments: Rough asphalt or con- crete or other abrasive materials can cause damage to tracks. • Reduce unnecessary spinning: Train your operators to make wide, less aggressive turns. Track spinning can lead to wear and decrease productivity. • Select the correct shoe width: Choose the proper shoe width by considering the weight of the machine and application. For instance, narrower excavator shoes are better suited for hard soil and rocky conditions be- cause they have better soil penetration and grip. Wide excavator shoes typically work well in soft underfoot conditions because they have more flotation with lower ground pressure. • Pick the correct grouser: Consider the application before choosing the number of grouser per shoe. A single or double grouser may work well when laying pipe but may not work well in other applications. Typically, the higher number of grousers the track has, the more con- tact the track will have with the ground, vibration is re- duced and the longer it will last when working in more abrasive conditions. Tip No. 4: Maintain Proper Track Tension Incorrect track tension may lead to increased track wear, so it is important to adhere to the proper tension. As a gen- eral rule, when your operators are working in soft, muddy conditions, it is recommended to run the tracks slightly looser. "If steel tracks are too tight or too loose, it can quickly accelerate wear," Reardon says. "A loose track could cause the tracks to de-track." Tip No. 5: Consider Rubber Tracks for Sensitive Surfaces Rubber tracks are available on smaller excavators and these models excel in a variety of applications. Most no- ticeably, rubber tracks provide good flotation, allowing excavators to travel across and work on soft ground condi- tions. The rubber tracks have minimal ground disturbance on finished surfaces, such as concrete, grass or asphalt. Tip No. 6: Adhere to Proper Digging Procedures Your crawler excavator operators should follow basic op- erating procedures — outlined in your manufacturer's Op- eration and Maintenance Manual — to minimize excessive wear and track degradation. The undercarriage makes up a large portion of track re- placement costs. They consist of expensive components, so adhering to these six undercarriage maintenance tips, as well as proper track maintenance outlined in your manu- facturer's Operation and Maintenance Manual, can help keep your overall cost of ownership down and extend the life of your tracks. Allison McNeal is with Two Rivers Marketing,Des Moines, Iowa. The article was written in collaboration with Doosan Infracore Construction Equipment America, West Fargo, North Dakota.

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