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GPS Tracking of Light/Medium Duty Fleets Increases Profitability Through Driver Accountability

By Carlo Chatman, Power PR

For any company with a fleet of light or medium duty vehicles, from service contractors to vendors and those in the transportation industry, increasing profitability often comes down to fostering an environment of greater employee accountability.

The concept of accountability is defined as “the obligation of an individual to account for his/her activities, accept responsibility for them and to disclose the results in a transparent manner.” Implied in this definition is the ability to verify tasks are completed as expected, on time, efficiently and per company policy. For fleet managers, this can only be accomplished through real-time GPS tracking devices on all vehicles.

After all, it is an established fact that drivers that know they are being monitored by such systems are less likely to make unnecessary detours or stops for personal reasons, may avoid spending unnecessary time at job sites or avoid idling the engine while filling out paperwork in the vehicle.

But accountability is not about discovering what a driver is doing “wrong,” it is actually more about what the driver is doing right. Through GPS tracking, drivers can take more ownership for their jobs, have more clarity of tasks and results, can self-correct, improve and do not have to be micromanaged. 

Advanced Tracking Technologies’ GPS tracking systems are used in the construction industry to provide employees and owners accountability and peace of mind. 

Even well intentioned drivers may discover that there are areas of improvement and efficiencies that could make them more productive. 

There are also indirect benefits as well. When all drivers are monitored, those not pulling their weight are more easily identified so faster, more productive employees do not have to pick up the slack with extra deliveries or service visits.

Finally, with greater accountability, higher performing employees are more likely to be recognized and rewarded based on verifiable performance.

So, with a host of benefits for the employee, fleet managers that have avoided the “leap” to GPS tracking are missing out on a win-win scenario. After all, more accountable drivers lead to greater efficiency overall, which means increased profits. It’s an argument that is hard to deny, particularly as GPS tracking continues to improve while the cost of entry plummets.

Holding Drivers to a Higher Standard

Although GPS trackers have been around for some time, advances in the technology allows for more real-time tracking and simplified reporting. Fleet managers, after all, don’t want to spend all day on their computers sifting through complex analytical data. Instead, they want simplified, easy to read reports that summarize what they need to know. Fortunately, such systems exist today and at rates less than $20 per vehicle.

The advanced units today allow real-time and historical tracking of each vehicle in a fleet. This allows dispatchers to assign the closest vehicle to a job, which expedites the service work or delivery and saves gas, labor, and vehicle wear-and-tear. It also allows historical routing analysis, which enables even greater routing efficiencies to be determined on an individual or fleet-wide basis.

Through GPS tracking, drivers can take more ownership for their jobs, have more clarity of tasks and results, can self-correct, improve and do not have to be micromanaged.  
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However, the greatest improvements in fleet management occur when GPS tracking devices are used to hold drivers to a clear, unbiased standard to encourage better performance for the company and themselves.

Real Life Results

As an example, when Reilly Construction & Development implemented their first GPS tracking system last year, the Vero Beach, Florida-based residential and commercial construction company benefited from significant productivity gains and operational efficiencies.

The construction company has installed Shadow Tracker Vision III GPS tracking devices from Advanced Tracking Technologies (ATTI), a Houston, Texas-based designer and manufacturer of GPS tracking products, on two of their construction trucks. 

Compared with typical GPS tracking devices that may only update every few minutes,

the device provides real-time location updates every 10-seconds, as well as location, speed and idle time alerts if something is amiss. This data is transmitted via satellite and cellular networks to a smartphone or PC on a 24/7 basis.

With such accountability for how every minute of each day is spent, employees know they are always “on the clock”. This helps to eliminate frivolous or unnecessary stops during the workday, and decreases wasted time during a stop. 

“Now we know exactly where our vehicles and drivers are in real time,” says Sharon Arnold, Office and Assistant Project Manager at Reilly Construction & Development. “We can spot check our drivers to make sure they are where they are supposed to be and not at unauthorized places because some people will take advantage. That has saved us a few thousand dollars in salary alone. The system more than pays for itself in enhanced productivity.”

On the plus side for employees, the use of such GPS tracking systems helps verify on-time arrival at customer sites. And automated reporting such as that provided by the ATTI system can virtually eliminate the reporting burden for employee and employer in regard to driving logs. Automated exception reporting can also flag potential issues that need to be corrected, such as excess vehicle mileage or idling.

“We are trying to work smarter, not harder,” says Arnold. “We are trying to make things simple and straight forward. With everything out in the open, people know what to expect.”

Increased Productivity, Reduced Fuel

Once drivers and the work crew know they are accountable for their actions, it is amazing how much more they will accomplish. Using such an approach with advanced GPS tracking commonly improves productivity 10 to 20 percent while reducing fuel costs 10 to 15 percent, as drivers start to pay attention to their driving and work habits throughout the day.

Indiana-based Gordon Plumbing Inc., which offers services ranging from small fixes to remodeling and construction, currently uses ATTI’s GPS tracking system on 54 vehicles, and has used three different tracking systems over the last decade.

“The ATTI system not only expedites job dispatching but also enhances accountability and profitability while reducing costs,” says Shannon Allen, Gordon Plumbing Service Coordinator. 

Allen points out that being able to access a vehicle’s position in real time means “our vehicles can reach customers very quickly when there are emergencies.” She adds, “If our drivers on the job need help from a tech specialist, we can immediately find one in their area and dispatch them to that address.”

According to Allen, the system provides one link for all the covered vehicles. “The GPS tracking system puts our vehicles on a map, so I can see all of them at once,” she says, noting that the view can be narrowed to any department or geographic area, as desired. “It is so accurate that it lets me see exactly where a vehicle is parked.”

Because the GPS system is automated, reports are delivered without anyone having to open software. In addition to the real time views of the activity taking place, next day reports are delivered by email, documenting everything that happened the day before. The reports can be customized, for example, to show how many drivers idled for more than 30 minutes or how many miles were put on a vehicle.

Allen emphasizes that the system can quickly spot driver habits that need correction, such as a driver stopping for five or 10 minutes between jobs several times a day. 

“With the GPS system, we are able to notice and point out that even five to 10 minutes stops between jobs each day adds up to a lot of lost productivity,” says Allen. She concludes, however, that her drivers are quite used to the system and even appreciate it when it proves that they are getting to and doing their jobs as required.

For a free demo, visit https://www.advantrack.com/free-demo/. For more information contact Advanced Tracking Technologies, 6001 Savoy Drive, Suite 301, Houston, TX 77036; visit www.advantrack.com; call 800-279-0035; email sales@advantrack.com. 

This feature appeared in the January 2020 issues of the ACP Magazines:

California Builder & Engineer, Construction, Construction Digest, Construction News, Constructioneer, Dixie Contractor, Michigan Contractor & Builder, Midwest Contractor, New England Construction, Pacific Builder & Engineer, Rocky Mountain Construction, Texas Contractor, Western Builder

Intelligent Compaction is the Key

By Jeff Winke

Long-lasting, Durable Surfaces Result From Quality Compaction

The most elemental meaning of the word “compaction,” is the exertion of force on something so that it becomes more dense.

In the realm of road construction, compaction is considered one of the most important processes in pavement and roadway surface construction. It is necessary in order to attain high quality and uniformity of pavement materials, which in turn better ensures the long-lasting performance of the road. 

It has been more than a few years since the term and method of “intelligent compaction” (IC) has become a given in discusions of paving. Today, it has become the norm – compaction is pretty much considered intelligent compaction.

IC refers to the compaction of road materials, such as soils, aggregate bases, or asphalt pavement materials, using modern vibratory rollers equipped with an integrated measurement system, an onboard computer reporting system, Global Positioning System (GPS) based mapping, and optional feedback control. IC rollers facilitate real-time compaction monitoring and timely adjustments to the compaction process by integrating measurement, documentation, and control systems. IC rollers also maintain a continuous record of color-coded plots, allowing the user to view plots of the precise location of the roller, the number of roller passes, and material stiffness measurements.

“Operators have told me that intelligent compaction takes the guessing game out of their rolling pattern,” said Daniel F. Brown, President of Phend & Brown, Inc., Milford, Indiana. “They no longer need to remember which utility power pole or mailbox they started or stopped at with their rolling pattern. Additionally, uniform pass coverage is assured because pass coverage is being measured and documented.”

The Background on IC

Back in 2011, the Federal Highway Association (FHWA) reported on a major three-year research project that was designed to verify that IC, which at the time had been considered “emerging technology,” was mature enough to be implemented in the real world. The intent of the project was to create the blueprint in the FHWA IC strategic plan. This study was under the Transportation Pooled Fund project, which included 12 participating state department of transportation: Georgia, Indiana, Kansas, Maryland, Minnesota, Mississippi, New York, North Dakota, Pennsylvania, Texas, Virginia, and Wisconsin.

The report’s Executive Summary states that the project “demonstrated tried-and-true Intelligent Compaction (IC) technologies through 16 field projects and open house activities, numerous meetings and training for State personnel and local earthwork/paving contractors, and assistance on the development of State IC specifications.”

The IC project’s key conclusions:

  • IC mapping of existing support layers is effective in identifying weak support areas for corrective actions prior to the compaction of the upper layers. 
  • With hot-mix asphalt (HMA) paving, IC tracking compaction roller passes and HMA surface temperatures can provide the necessary means to maintain a consistent rolling pattern within optimal ranges of temperatures for coverage of 100 percent of the construction area. 
  • IC technologies can be especially beneficial to maintain consistent rolling patterns under lower visibility conditions, such as night paving operations.

IC Technology Aids Productivity

IC technology, the report stated, will have profound influence on the responsibilities of various stages of pavement constructions and will eventually help produce better and more consistent pavement products. 

“We are currently running Topcon C-53 IC Systems on two Caterpillar CB-534 D XW Rollers, and two systems on Bomag BW190 AD Rollers,” stated Brown. “At the time of purchase, the C-53, which offers the GX-55 control box, was the newest technology available.

“We like that the technology provides for remote mobile access via Sitelink to allow process balance decisions to be based on real-time data for the entire paver/roller operation, which in turn ensures that optimal production rates and density values are consistently achieved.” 

Topcon Positioning Systems offers an IC system that is designed to track pass counts of multiple rollers or IC machines working on the same project. Through secure connectivity to Topcon’s global Sitelink3D service, each compactor not only performs its tasks, but also becomes part of the overall monitored project. 

“Each operator is not only able to see their own passes, but those made by other machines on-screen in real time,” Brown said. “And in real time, the paving superintendant, foreman, and general contractor personnel can also see what exactly is going on via the Sitelink platform. This ensures proper compaction from each machine and eliminates redundancy.” 

The IC system is designed to:

  • Leverage multiple integrated temperature sensors, so each compactor can achieve consistent results through constant feedback into the system.
  • Provide accurate pass counts, geographic locations of each run, as well as georeferenced task assignments and their completion via its GNSS technology.
  • Ensure that regulatory IC standards are being met by documenting surface stiffness values through its accelerometer.
  • Connect to the Sitelink3D Enterprise service which provides 24/7 access to project data, team collaboration, custom reporting, as well as standard export to Veta management and analysis software, which can provide additional customized information. 
  • Provide data to demonstrate specification compliance and confirm proper density claims.

“We’re using the Topcon C-53 IC System with a GX-75 control box on our 850 Series Sakai Oscillation/Vibration Paving Roller, which allows the machine operator to monitor the compaction pattern and the temperature as they’re working,” stated Sergio Muniz, Paving Superintendent with Payne & Dolan, Inc., Waukesha, Wisconsin, who acquired the system working through his local Topcon Solutions Store. “I like that I can jump onto my laptop and see the work being completed in real time and make certain we’re complying with the tough DOT state specifications.”

Muniz added: “We’re finding the Topcon system to be essential for our high-profile big jobs to ensure we remain on task and is instrumental for when we work at night. It also is proving handy for smaller parking-lot-type jobs as well.”

The key benefit of IC is greater control over the compaction results, which in turn provides better finished paved results. Compaction at its most elemental is the exertion of force on something so that it becomes more dense, while IC provides the technological means to ensure that compaction is performed consistently, thoroughly, and accurately. The goal is to achieve optimum densities that ensure adequate support, stability, and strength. Achieving these densities uniformly is key, and clearly IC aids this process.

This feature appeared in the January 2020 issues of the ACP Magazines:

California Builder & Engineer, Construction, Construction Digest, Construction News, Constructioneer, Dixie Contractor, Michigan Contractor & Builder, Midwest Contractor, New England Construction, Pacific Builder & Engineer, Rocky Mountain Construction, Texas Contractor, Western Builder

Sidewall Protection for OTR Tires Keeps Concrete Recycling Operations Running

At concrete and aggregate recycling sites, recycled aggregate is produced by crushing concrete and asphalt to reuse the aggregate in the construction industry as a base for roads or building foundations.  

To keep operations running site managers rely on loaders to push large jagged chunks of torn up sidewalk, roadway, or building materials – which can have steel rebar sticking out – to the crushing line to reduce its size.

Even though OTR tires for heavy equipment are specially designed for harsh environments, the risk for damage is still high.  One of the most common failure points is the tire’s sidewall. 

Without added protection, the jagged edges and steel rebar in piles of debris can put loaders’ OTR tires at severe risk of sidewall puncture and abrasion, particularly the front tires closest to myriad sharp, abrading objects.

Fortunately, for operations managers, a new breed of tough, durable sidewall protection for OTR tires is designed to stop loader sidewall punctures and abrasion while significantly extending tire life to keep aggregate recycling operations reliably running.

Minimizing Costly Sidewall Puncture

Research by the Mechanical Engineering Department at the University of Alberta in 2011 on the detection of faults on off-road haul truck tires identified five tire failure areas: tire tread, shoulder, sidewall, bead, and liner.  The study cited research by Syncrude Canada Ltd. that examined the causes for off-road tire failure from 2005-2010.  Sidewall cuts accounted for approximately 18 percent of all faults, sidewall separation 10 percent, and sidewall impact over 5 percent. 

When the sidewall is damaged in loaders, typically by a puncture, the vehicles are not safe to operate and the OTR tires are expensive to replace. 

Repairing a damaged sidewall takes valuable time to send a tire out for repair, and the repair may not be successful.  An aggregate recycling operator could face a sidelined loader, expensive tire replacement, and reduced production or even significant operational downtime.  

With shortages for certain tire sizes more common recently, it could take days or longer to get a replacement tire installed at a repair facility, and then get the loader back to work.

An Innovative Sidewall Shield

As a solution, an innovative new type of sidewall protection device is entering the market for valuable OTR tires.  Purpose-built for use on heavy equipment at aggregate recycling sites, operators can bolt on a polyurethane sidewall shield to prevent the sidewalls from getting punctured during operation.

A Michigan-based firm, Argonics, which specializes in high-performance, polyurethane-based elastomers and is one of the largest producers of impact, wear-resistant and customizable urethane products, has developed this sidewall protection.  Their sidewall protector uses a proprietary urethane formulation called Kryptane, which was engineered for extreme wear conditions involving abrasion, sliding, or impact.

The special properties of urethane make it an excellent material for sidewall protection.  This tough, elastic material excels in preventing the penetration of sharp objects as well as deflecting them.  It will change shape under impact and then return to its original shape afterward.  Urethane also offers maximum abrasion resistance, which is ideal for situations where severe wear is a problem.  

For these reasons, urethane is already being used at mining, heavy construction, and aggregate recycling sites across North America.

The idea for applying the special properties of urethane for off-road sidewall tire protection came from Perry Fell, Territory Manager at Luff Industries, a Canadian distributor of Argonics.  He thought Argonics’ expertise in high performance polyurethane elastomers would be well suited to an OTR application, and proposed the original design.

Design Benefits

The sidewall protector comprises eight integrated segments that, together with a specially designed ring, use 32 bolts to apply to a wheel.  The entire sidewall protector can be installed in about 15 minutes once the special flange has been installed by certified personnel.  

The benefit of this design is that it allows easy replacement of just the segment of the protector that is damaged, if any, not the entire shield.  Virtually no maintenance is needed other than to retorque the bolts after 15 to 20 hours of use – much like when installing new tires on a car. 

The urethane-based sidewall protector has been tested at aggregate recycling sites in Toronto, Canada and Dallas, Texas.  It has been installed on the front tires of Caterpillar 980 loaders at these sites.  

“The sidewall protector has been performing very well,” said Fell. “We’ve had no tire punctures or sidewall issues since installing the protectors.” 

Bob Welker, International Sales and Director of Marketing at Argonics, said, “We’ve been able to refine the sidewall protector design based on the extended testing. There have really only been minor changes needed for things like increasing the size of the bolts.” 

According to Welker, the patent-pending urethane sidewall protector is in its fourth generation.  Currently the design is based on a 25-inch wheel diameter used by loaders such as the Caterpillar 980.  The company is planning sidewall protectors for 33-inch and 45-inch wheel diameters next. 

This feature appeared in the December 2019 issues of the ACP Magazines:

California Builder & Engineer, Construction, Construction Digest, Construction News, Constructioneer, Dixie Contractor, Michigan Contractor & Builder, Midwest Contractor, New England Construction, Pacific Builder & Engineer, Rocky Mountain Construction, Texas Contractor, Western Builder

Precision Pays

How Green Oasis Irrigation is Mini-Trenching Its Way to Success

Every day we benefit greatly from the precision achieved when professionals use tools designed specifically for their jobs. Surgery, for instance, would be far more risky and leave less than ideal results if surgeons did not have some of the sharpest scalpels in the world that allow them to work with extreme precision. Installing landscape irrigation lines is a similar endeavor, albeit less life threatening. When it’s done with the best tools around it can deliver extremely precise and high-quality results, saving customers and contractors from headaches and labor costs. 

Operators walk behind the Kwik-Trench while pushing forward. This is not only easier than larger trenchers that operate by pulling the unit backward, but also safer.

Bill Waltz is no surgeon, but he and his crew at Green Oasis Irrigation in Tomball, Texas, know firsthand that using the right tools for the job can have a huge impact on success. Waltz owns Green Oasis, and he and his crew install and service sprinkler systems in southeast Texas. The task involves digging trenches as narrow as 1 inch, as deep as 8 inches and, in some cases, hundreds of feet long for placing irrigation lines. When Waltz first started the business, it wasn’t always as easy as it sounds. 

“One of my good friends and I were looking to keep ourselves busy one summer while we were home from college. When I saw a few guys installing a sprinkler system at the house across the street, I knew that was the ticket to passing time while earning some money,” Waltz said. 

After some research and trips to the hardware store for supplies, Waltz and his partner were in business and ready for their first project – installing irrigation lines at Waltz’s childhood home where his parents still reside. After that first successful install, he and his partner hit the pavement, posting fliers to drum up business. Their efforts proved successful, but as the number of projects grew, their faith in their methods diminished. 

“We started out using trenching shovels, which certainly got the job done, but our bodies paid the price,” he said. “They also didn’t leave the type of results we wanted to give our customers.”

Better Trenching Technology

Trenching by hand is not only a laborious process, but time intensive as well. In addition, the process greatly disturbs the soil, so customers had to wait as long as two months before their yards were back to normal. 

The Kwik-Trench deposits soil on one side of the trench, which makes backfilling easy and fast, allowing the area to heal quickly.
 

“The longer soil and grass is left out of the trench, the more it dries out and the longer it takes for that area to heal once material is put back,” Waltz said. “If that’s our only option, that’s one thing, but we knew there had to be a better way.” 

A visit to the local rental shop proved them right. 

There it was: the 2.5- foot by 5-foot piece of equipment that, at the time, Waltz had no idea would have such a hand in shaping his business. It was a Little Beaver Kwik-Trench mini-trencher – a gas powered machine that slices through soil, leaving trenches as narrow as 1 inch and as deep as 12 inches. 

“Up until then our only power trenching options were large models that would have destroyed lawns. They were overkill for what we needed,” Waltz said. 

He also added that many customers hear the word “trencher” and envision the lawns they work so hard to maintain turning into a dirt-filled warzone.

“That image isn’t too far from reality if you use larger trenchers. We knew we had to have clean, narrow trenches that could minimize cleanup time and deliver better results for our customers. The mini-trencher was our best option.” 

Over the next few years, as the business got off the ground, Green Oasis rented the mini-trencher for nearly every irrigation project. The unit cut trenches as quickly as 30 feet per minute and its carbide tipped blades rotated as fast as 800 rpm, delivering clean and precise results. 

The team of two quickly realized that what started as a way for quick cash on college breaks, had developed into a thriving business opportunity. As soon as they had the funds, they purchased the Kwik-Trench.

The Sharpest Tool in the Shed

And the rest, as they say, is history. That was nearly 28 years ago and since then Waltz’s partner has gone his own way while Green Oasis has grown to 10 installers and two mini-trenchers working year round to service customers. He also continues to get rave reviews.

“The mini-trenchers have really made our business stand out amongst the competition,” Waltz said. “I’ve had customers arrive home and think we hadn’t completed the job because the yard looked undisturbed. Clients have also been pleased with how fast their yards are back to normal.” 

The Kwik-Trench deposits soil on one side of the trench, which makes backfilling easy and fast, allowing the area to heal quickly. The subsequent customer satisfaction helps fill much of Green Oasis’ business, which primarily comes from referrals.

The compact size of the Kwik-Trench allows operators to trench in tight spaces and close to buildings. 

But clients aren’t the only ones pleased with Waltz’s approach to digging trenches. His employees are also happy. 

“I’ve had some of my guys say if they had to dig by hand they wouldn’t be working for me,” Waltz said. “Ergonomics is starting to play a big role in employee satisfaction, and rightfully so, we’re not young forever.”

Operators walk behind the unit while pushing forward, which is not only easier than larger trenchers that operate by pulling the unit backward, but it’s also safer. Green Oasis’ mini-trenchers are also relatively lightweight and easy to maneuver. 

More Productivity Means More Projects

In addition to safety and ergonomics, the units have also boosted profits for Green Oasis. 

With the help of Little Beaver’s Kwik-Trench, crews can turn what would otherwise be a two-day project into a six- to eight

“It’s simple; because we can cut trenches faster, we can complete projects more quickly, which means we can take on more than what can be achieved with hand digging,” Waltz said. 

He noted one of the largest projects his crew has completed with the mini-trenchers included installing irrigation lines on a 3-acre property outside of Tomball. 

“It took us four days to complete the job – one of the longest projects we’ve worked on. But if we had hand dug the trenches it would have taken us almost two weeks,” he said. 

That efficiency continues to pay even on the day-to-day projects, turning what could be two-day projects into six- to eight-hour jobs.  

Not only has efficiency played a role in the company’s success, but having quick and timely parts support has also helped Green Oasis stay on top of profits. 

“We bill per project rather than hourly so if we had to wait for parts to arrive it could really eat into our profits,” Waltz said. Fortunately he has been able to call Little Beaver and get what he needed within a few days. 

“I’m not sure why some contractors still choose to hand dig their trenches, but for us it’s a no-brainer,” Waltz said. 

Having the right tools for the job is smart. Just like the surgeon with his instruments, a contractor with his mini-trencher is poised to operate with extreme precision to deliver fast, high-quality results. And it’s all in the name of saving. Whether it’s rescuing clients from an unsightly yard or saving a contractor time, hassle and labor costs, the right tools pay. 

This feature appeared in the December 2019 issues of the ACP Magazines:

California Builder & Engineer, Construction, Construction Digest, Construction News, Constructioneer, Dixie Contractor, Michigan Contractor & Builder, Midwest Contractor, New England Construction, Pacific Builder & Engineer, Rocky Mountain Construction, Texas Contractor, Western Builder

Operating at Peak Performance

Properly Adjusted Track Tension is Critical for Compact Track Loaders

By Joseph Huling, Regional Service Manager, Takeuchi

Maintaining the tracks on a compact track loader (CTL) is crucial for all the working parts to continue operating at peak performance. Owners of tracked machines should perform a daily inspection as well as visual checks for damage to the tracks. 

The undercarriage will be a big portion of operating and maintenance costs over the life of a machine. Of all the undercarriage components, the track itself is the most likely to fail due to the operating stress or lack of maintenance.

Here is a step-by-step guide to combat fast-track wear and keep your machine on track.

Application

Before purchasing or renting a machine for the jobsite, it is always important to consider application. For instance, if the operator plans to work on hard, rough terrain, this will cause cuts or chunking of the tracks, which leads to excessive, premature wear. For applications such as this, a skid steer loader is best utilized. CTLs are generally best utilized on softer ground conditions and sites where ground disturbance can be an issue. 

It Starts With Safety

When inspecting a unit’s tracks, be sure to put safety first. Always perform any maintenance while wearing safety glasses, a hard hat, steel-toe boots, and gloves. For any proper track tension questions, consult the recommendations in the OEM manual or check with a local dealer.

Parking and Clearance

Before performing maintenance to the track, first start by parking in a safe, level area. Once positioned, lower the lift arms and then tilt the bucket forward to raise the front of the machine as far off the ground as it will go. Shut off the CTL and climb out of the cab safely. 

Once the operator exits the machine, it is important to measure the clearance between the middle track roller and where the surface of the track makes contact with the roller. The clearance of this machine should be anywhere between 15 to 30 millimeters. After measuring, the operator is in position to make any necessary track adjustments.  

Track Tension

Depending on measurements, tracks should be tightened or loosened as needed. Again, stick to 15 to 30 millimeters. If the tension is too tight, it can speed up the track wear on sprockets and idlers as well as require more effort to rotate the track. 

If the tension is too loose, it can derail the track and cause wear on the components. When the track rolls off, it can stretch beyond the normal threshold, rendering it hard to keep on. Track alignment is also important. If the track is loose, misalignment can cause major issues with the undercarriage components.

To increase track tension:

  • Remove the access plate on the track frame
  • Using a grease gun, inject grease into the tensioning cylinder through the grease fitting on the grease discharge valve
  • Inject grease until the track tightens within the recommended 15 to 30 millimeters

To decrease track tension:

  • During this procedure, the operator should be positioned away from the front of the grease fitting
  • Loosen the grease discharge valve one complete turn to allow the track tension to decrease
  • Tighten the discharge valve torque to 59 to 88 Nm

Once finished, be sure to clean up any discharge grease and reinstall the access plate. The operator can then put the CTL back on the surface and get to work with the comfort of knowing the tracks will be in good shape.

As the tracks go, so too does the machine. A simple daily check will get the CTL from point A to point B with ease for years to come. 

This feature appeared in the December 2019 issues of the ACP Magazines:

California Builder & Engineer, Construction, Construction Digest, Construction News, Constructioneer, Dixie Contractor, Michigan Contractor & Builder, Midwest Contractor, New England Construction, Pacific Builder & Engineer, Rocky Mountain Construction, Texas Contractor,
Western Builder