Cover Your Tracks
Tight track is the number one track killer.
4. Watch your speed. There are times when a task requires higher speed operation, but wear accelerates as speed increases. Links, rollers, and idlers are particularly vulnerable. Keep them working longer by controlling your speed. The mantra for dozer operators to achieve maximum productivity in production dozing is: Big load, slow.
5. Avoid unnecessary reverse operation. Operating in reverse, even at slow speeds, compounds bushing and sprocket wear. So don’t run in reverse unless you have to. To avoid spending more time in reverse than necessary, aim for pushing large loads in first gear.
6. Alternate turning directions. If you’re always turning in the same direction, the undercarriage components on one side of the machine will wear at a different rate than those on the other side. More specifically, turning left all the time accelerates wear on the right side and vice versa. To ensure even wear, pay attention to the way you’re turning and change directions when possible.
7. Work up or down a slope whenever possible. Working across a slope can shorten undercarriage component life, so try to structure the job with minimal cross-slope activity. Also, dozing downhill achieves greater production with less fuel burn by using gravity to your advantage.
8. Avoid galling. Galling is caused by loss of lubricant between pins and bushings in the track caused by excessive pressure pushing oil past the seals. A combination of excessive load and speed, running track tighter than specified, packing conditions, and the practice of “mud flinging” all can cause galling. Mud flinging involves raising the dozer up with the ripper and blade and rotating the tracks.
9. Always dig over the front idlers to reduce the potential for structural problems. Specific to excavator operators, never dig over the final drive, and never dig over the side of the machine.
Maintenance means inspection, tensioning, cleaning
Maintenance discipline plays a big role in undercarriage component life. Conduct a visual inspection daily or when underfoot conditions change significantly. Check track adjustment; check for oil leaks on links, rollers, and idlers; and look for broken or loose undercarriage components and excessive gaps between track shoes.
One of the most critical maintenance practices is track adjustment. Tight track is the number one track killer, but whether your track is too loose or too tight, improper adjustment accelerates wear. Follow the manufacturer’s recommendations for track adjustment, and always perform the adjustment in the machine’s working environment.
As noted earlier, cleaning the undercarriage maximizes wear life. The task may be the operator’s duty or it may be the duty of maintenance personnel. Regardless, remove mud and debris at the end of every shift, or more frequently if necessary.
Many aggregates operations rely on their equipment dealer to periodically inspect and measure undercarriages. For example, the Cat Custom Track Service provides reports with maintenance and repair alternatives that the aggregates operation can select to achieve lowest cost of operation.
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