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Proper Maintenance of Undercarriage in Heavy Equipment

Undercarriage for trucks and wheel loaders cost 20% of the total equipment but when it breaks or malfunctions, the cost for repair can be 50% more.

Even though it is one of the most undermined machine parts, the undercarriage plays an important role in the total functionality of construction equipment. However, one of the major complaints of equipment manufacturers is the fragile capabilities of their undercarriages despite the best product parts used. Its system can wear easily as it is the main support of a particular machine. Proper maintenance and regular care for undercarriage is greatly advised by manufacturers to prevent future issues.

Ignoring undercarriage management can be catastrophic as well as costly.

Axis Capital Group, a company which sells and rents capital equipment from its offices in Singapore and Jakarta, Indonesia to other parts of Asia-Pacific region points out that proactive management begins good operating guidelines and maintenance practice, even if it means you have to search every crook and canny of each of your equipment for even the slightest scratch. Included in daily monitoring and review should be the quality of the machine, and its parts’ capabilities and fitness and making informed decision about it.

The moving components of the undercarriage are wear items. That means they are expected to wear over time after being used multiple times depending on the frequency of use and the quality of parts used. The bottom rollers carry the weight of the machine while it is traveling and digging while the front idler holds the chain in proper position and alignment and acts as shock absorber and chain tensioner.

Quality control should make sure the other features of the machine are also functioning well. Reversal can wear off the undercarriage easily and excessive speed makes it even faster. The transmission controller should make sure the reversal is at minimum speed limit by programming it beforehand.

The use of telematics in today’s machineries can also be very helpful. It can monitor the machine’s working time versus its idle time. Periodic undercarriage measurement can be scheduled based on actual working hours (not hour-meter readings). And if the system also reports forward-travel time versus reverse-travel time, and if reverse operation seems excessive, then perhaps the operation needs revamping to ease stress on the undercarriage, or maybe operators need more training.

While other undercarriage components may not need a daily inspection like tracks, regular monitoring of the components can help identify potential problems early. Idlers, rollers and sprockets are all components that should be checked.

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