Keep Track of Your Tracks!
Maintenance and Operating Techniques to Extend the Life of Your Rubber Tracks & Keep You and Your Crew Safe
Now that construction season is well underway, crews are busier than ever repairing our buildings and roads. And just as busy as the men and women working is the heavy equipment and machinery they utilize and depend on to construct and restore the roadways we drive on every day. As a result of this increased use in the spring and summer months, equipment endures more wear and tear than ever. But by following a few simple operating tips, wear and tear can be kept to a minimum, aiding in cost effectiveness, timeliness, crew safety, as well as overall efficiency and productivity.
Among the equipment used most often to repair our roadways are excavators, varying in size, which all similarly have track loader rubber tracks. These tracks, essentially the “tire” of the machine, potentially withstand a majority of the wear and tear, and should ideally be in tip-top shape to ensure proper functioning at all times. Just as a vehicle with bald tires would travel poorly and dangerously in a snowy environment, an excavator with worn rubber tracks will similarly operate at a standard that is less than par.
- When checking or replacing your rubber tracks, check all undercarriage parts and drive system components for signs of wear. Among some of the most important parts to check are the sprockets, rollers and idlers which are often the most overlooked. And any of these parts that are potentially damaged, heavily worn or loose can lead to premature track wear and a reduced track life. A rule of thumb to facilitate this process and help you remember to stay on top of the condition of the parts is to simultaneously replace the parts with the track, as needed.
Another important factor in track maintenance is track tension and adjustment. Incorrect track tension will not only reduce the life of the tracks, but can also increase downtime and damage the turf you’re operating on. Because each machine varies on factors such as size and make/model, it is always a good idea to check the machine’s owner’s manual for suggested tension guidelines and adjustment frequency.
- Make it a habit to regularly clean the machine’s undercarriage, especially after frequent and heavy use. Cleaning it rids the undercarriage of rocks, soil, mud and debris – the ultimate prevention of a clogged undercarriage, which can deter proper drive train operation and lead to de-tracking.
- And finally, once the busy season is over and it’s time to put the machine away during downtime, be sure to store it properly, especially if it’s for an extended period of time. The machine should be kept in a secure place and in a manner that prevents the tracks from being exposed to extreme weather conditions. Store tracks away from direct sunlight, rain, snow and other harsh weather elements.
These tips, combined with safe and proper operating and a comprehensive maintenance program, can significantly extend the life of your tracks and their corresponding undercarriage parts. Proper upkeep and following recommendations like those listed above will save you money, preserve the condition of your machine and ensure safe, efficient operating. Giving proper attention to your tracks will keep you up-and-running from job to job, season to season.