Heavy Equipment Undercarriage Maintenance
Heavy equipment is critical to many companies’ operations, making it possible for them to complete tough jobs requiring some major power. Since the undercarriage of heavy equipment is so close to the ground, it regularly contacts debris and other items, potentially leading to greater wear. An undercarriage contains many moving components that heavy equipment needs to function properly, so it’s crucial to devote time to heavy equipment undercarriage maintenance.
If you’re interested in excavator or dozer undercarriage maintenance, take a moment to review why you’ll want to maintain your heavy-duty equipment’s undercarriage and learn some of the best undercarriage maintenance tips.
Why Maintain Equipment Undercarriages?
When companies maintain heavy equipment undercarriages, they can receive several advantages. For example, regular maintenance and inspections help you spot worn or damaged parts early. This ability to spot needed repairs can help you schedule maintenance at convenient times and avoid having to conduct an unexpected emergency repair at a work site.
Regular maintenance also reduces the risk of parts breaking down and keeps your equipment running with little downtime required. A maintenance program can extend your heavy equipment’s life, so you receive more value out of your investment. Additionally, keeping your equipment in good condition helps machinery stay as productive and safe as possible.
Best Undercarriage Maintenance Tips for Heavy Equipment
Since maintaining your excavator undercarriage or another piece of heavy-duty equipment is so beneficial, you may be looking for some maintenance tips to follow. Here are some of the best tips to maintain your equipment’s undercarriage:
1. Clean the Undercarriage and Track Daily
Cleaning your equipment’s undercarriage and tracks is one of the best ways to maintain it. During a piece of equipment’s daily use, mud and debris will build up on key components. This buildup can be corrosive, leading to greater wear on parts. Additionally, when debris and mud are left uncleaned, they can add extra weight to your machine and lower its fuel economy.
Due to the potential for greater wear and a reduction in fuel economy, you may want to clean your undercarriage and tracks daily. To clean your undercarriage properly, you can use a shovel and a pressure washer. When your undercarriage or tracks has a build of hard materials, like wood, concrete and rocks, a shovel is a great tool to remove them. A pressure washer is perfect for removing dirt and other loose pieces of debris caught in the machine’s crevices and cracks.
Daily cleanings are especially important in cold temperatures, as mud and debris can freeze and harden in the machinery. Frozen debris can cause even more damage to your components, as they can make rollers freeze and rub against bolts, loosening them as a result. By cleaning your undercarriage and tracks every day, you can prevent debris from freezing and damaging your machinery.
2. Verify Track Tension Is at Optimal Levels
Your equipment’s track tension determines how well your machine uses its available power. By adjusting your track tension, you can ensure you put your machine’s power to its best use. Generally, you don’t want your track tension to be too loose or tight. When your tension is too loose, your equipment might experience slippage, with the chance of a track detaching rising significantly. If tracks are too tight, bushings can blow out, leading to costly repairs.
Before you use your equipment for a new project, take a moment to ensure your track tension is at optimal levels. If you plan to operate on soft or muddy terrain, you may want to slightly loosen the tracks to get the most out of your machinery. Regardless of the terrain, make it a point to check your tension levels regularly to ensure they’re at the appropriate level.
3. Schedule Regular Undercarriage Inspections
Regular undercarriage inspections can help you spot missing or damaged parts that could affect your equipment’s performance or stop it from working entirely. Some common undercarriage parts to check include the following:
- Track shoes
- Track chains
- Track bolts
- Rollers and idlers
- Drive motors
- Drive sprockets
- Rock guards
- Nuts and screws
As you check these parts, look for cracks, uneven wear or broken parts. Loose parts can also be a warning sign that retightening is required. Additionally, an inspection can reveal a part is missing entirely, allowing you to take action and replace it, preventing the danger of operating the equipment without it. Generally, it’s best practice to perform inspections after every use or at least once per day.
4. Consider Rubber Tracks for Soft Ground Conditions
One of the best pieces of excavator undercarriage maintenance is to equip rubber tracks if you use excavators and other equipment on soft ground. These rubber tracks offer better flotation than standard tracks and help equipment work more efficiently on soft surfaces. This better flotation can reduce wear on your machinery, saving you time on repairs and the costs associated with it.
5. Ensure Operators Follow Best Practices
Part of maintaining equipment undercarriages is preventing excessive wear from occurring due to improper usage. Since some tasks and actions can put more wear on your excavator, you’ll likely want your operators to be aware of the best practices for your equipment. While best practices change based on the type of equipment you’re using, some general tips for proper heavy-equipment operation include the following:
- Limit reverse travel and operation at high speeds
- Reduce time on slopes
- Follow manufacturer recommended digging practices
- Select the right grouser
- Take wider turns
- Avoid operating in harsh environments
- Choose the right shoe width
- Follow your equipment’s operation and maintenance manual
- Lessen unneeded track spinning
Making your operators aware of these practices and ensuring they follow them can help you keep your equipment in a much better condition. For example, taking broader turns reduces wear by not putting as much stress on key components like pivots and counter turns would. Additionally, reducing time on slopes is important since an angled position puts more force on one side of your machine.
Turn to Foley, Inc. When You Need Undercarriage Repairs
At Foley, Inc., we’re ready to help you keep your Cat® equipment in its best condition possible. Whenever your machinery’s parts break down and need repair or replacement, our team is ready to assist you. We offer general duty undercarriage and undercarriage track repair services designed to help with troubleshooting, routine maintenance and repairs. We can also aid you as you search for replacement parts, finding options perfect for your equipment’s make and model.