Lower Operating Costs by Maintaining your Undercarriage
The undercarriage may be the least visible part of a piece of construction equipment, but in many ways it’s the hardest-working. That makes it the most vulnerable to wear and damage. Proper maintenance not only protects jobsite productivity, it can lower operating costs. As an equipment dealer, you can help customers understand the importance of “undercarriage management” and help them be proactive about it.
The “20/50” rule of thumb
Industry experts say the undercarriage represents about 20% of the initial price of a dozer. However, it represents 50% of the machine’s repair costs over its lifetime. With that in mind, it’s easy to see why undercarriage management is so vital.
This is a multi-faceted approach that takes into account information about how the machine is being used plus regularly-scheduled service and assessment of the machine’s condition. But decisions also depend on the owner’s experience-based judgment about the best way to deal with wearing components.
Premium undercarriage systems can reduce potential problems. Several OEMs now offer upgraded undercarriages that reduce external bushing wear. But the added expense isn’t necessarily cost-effective for every application, so customers need to pencil it out for themselves.
Operate equipment within recommendations. Wherever possible, try to avoid:
- Excessive ground speed
- Excessive reverse operation
- Counter-rotation and same-direction turning
- Track spinning
Maintain equipment thoroughly, again as recommended. That includes:
- Cleaning tracks every day
- Checking track tension often
- Measuring wear on a regular basis
If the machine has a transmission controller, program it to limit reverse speed. This alone can help lower operating costs, because reverse operation is the most wear-producing. Speed simply accelerates the wear.
Telematics data can improve maintenance scheduling, thanks to data that compares working time to idle time. Some systems also separate forward vs reverse work hours, which can alert owners to excessive reverse operation. If there’s a problem, your customer can determine why and address the issue proactively, for instance with operator re-training or worksite procedural changes that will put less stress on the undercarriage.
Whether crawler dozer track systems are manufactured with SALT (sealed and lubricated track) chains or “greased” chains (common with hydraulic excavators, the seals will eventually start to leak, increasing wear.
Naturally, internal pins and bushings wear faster without adequate lubrication. This is typically one-sided, extending the track pitch and causing the chain to loosen. However, because wear is one-sided, both pins and bushings can be reversed to extend their longevity. Talk to your customer about whether this is still recommended (and cost-effective) for their particular machine, especially if it’s a new model.
And speaking of newer machines, today’s excavators use bigger buckets, adding stress with every pivot on the track chain. That puts more stress on links and bushings. For those running excavators, many industry experts recommend simply replacing them when necessary rather than attempting to intervene with undercarriage management actions that may not be cost-effective.
Extended warranties have your customer’s back
Even with an ideal undercarriage maintenance program in place, your customers may face unplanned downtime. Sometimes problems just happen, typically when they’re most unwanted. And no matter the reason, unforeseen repairs are expensive.
As a trusted advisor, your dealership can help customers lower operating costs by providing a variety of extended warranty coverage options. With ADI’s industry-specific products, you can also offer customers software that makes it easy to manage and monitor claims.
This software streamlines your internal operations, too – improving communication with customers regarding their claims and managing your own insurance files for rental equipment. Best of all, offering extended warranties and other insurance products give your dealership an additional revenue stream.
So give your dozer and excavator customers all the information they need to create a profitable undercarriage management program. Then give them the ultimate protection of extended warranties. That way you’ll be doing everything you can to help them maintain both productivity and profitability.