CTL Operating Tips
Operating style has a lot to do with how a machine holds up over time. "Careless operation can take money out of your pocket," says David Steger, Takeuchi. "Evaluating your operating style and adapting certain practices can ultimately lower your operating and maintenance costs, and oftentimes improve productivity."Compact track loaders are very responsive when compared to mini-excavators and small dozers, and respond similar to a skid-steer loader, notes Dave December, New Holland. "As such, they will be operated much like a skid-steer loader," he says.
The following operating tips can help to extend the life of the undercarriage and belts, and reduce operating costs:
Follow maintenance procedures - "Actions such as greasing and checking fluid levels and servicing the machine regularly may be the most important things you can do for your machine," says Steger.
"Take the time for daily inspections and proper maintenance to repair/replace individual failing parts before they affect other components," says December. "That will extend the life of the undercarriage and save a significant amount in replacement cost and downtime, which in itself is lost revenue."
Keep the machine clean - Cleaning the machine, especially the belly pans, undercarriage and coolers, goes a long way toward keeping the machine in tip-top condition. "It also gives you the opportunity to inspect every area to see if there are any problems," says Steger.
Use common sense - Just because the machine can do a certain task, doesn't mean it's safe or practical. "Use common sense while lifting and carrying to prevent overloading," says Steger. "Be sure to consider the machine's ability, operating conditions and your skill level when operating on uneven terrain."
Turn the machine with care - "Avoid making quick turns by counter-rotating," says Jodi Gulbraa, Terex ASV. "Make gradual turns whenever possible, and use the three-point turn system."
Executing wider turns will save a lot of wear and tear on the tracks and cause less ground disturbance. Also minimize 360° rotations from a stationary position when possible.
Check track tension - At least weekly, check track tension to ensure it meets manufacturer recommendations. Properly tensioned tracks will give the best performance and will extend track life.
Consider your surface and terrain - Avoid driving sideways on a slope. Working on surfaces such as asphalt and concrete may prematurely wear out the track. Climbing over broken rubble and rebar can cut and prematurely damage the track.
"These are all valid operations," says Mike Fitzgerald, Bobcat. "But understand that utilizing the proper operating techniques and working the machine appropriately will help extend the longevity when working on these surfaces. We saw one asphalt contractor increase track life from about 600 hours to 1,000 hours just by changing some operating practices, such as minimizing spinning on asphalt and loading trucks on a dirt surface. They're still below what's considered 'average,' but they accept that they will not get as many hours on a set of tracks as a contractor who is only leveling dirt around houses."