This ability to quickly assess wear can boost productivity. "If the manual measurements take 30 minutes, and the ultrasonics take 10 minutes, the customer has just saved a third of an hour he has taken his tractor down," says Kunin.
Ultrasonics also take less preparation. "You don't need to clean out the tracks," says Kunin. "You need a space of clean metal about the size of a quarter. So a scraper, a wire brush, allows you to do it a whole lot faster."
Recording measurements is also easier because you don't have to set the tool down to write down each measurement. "The ultrasonics allow you to do 200 measurements and download them all at the same time," says Kunin.
The margin of error is about the same, whether you measure the track manually or use an ultrasonic tool. "We have two different sets of specs," says Kunin. "We have a manual set of specs and an ultrasonic set of specs." Once someone is proficient in using either method, the accuracy level is going to be comparable.
"The most important measurement on the undercarriage is the bushing," Kunin continues. "That's the wear-out point. Once you do the bushing turn, you are on the run-out." That's why product support reps often shoot the bushing with the ultrasonic tool to determine the turn point and the life.
Komatsu is now in the process of taking the next technology leap by tying its undercarriage management technology with KOMTRAX. This web-based GPS equipment management solution provides critical machine data at your fingertips 24 hours a day. "KOMTRAX technology gives us the benefit of knowing how many hours are being put on a machine - and not just idle hours, but how many travel hours," says Kunin.
Today, product support reps measure the undercarriage life, then estimate the bushing turns or replacement schedule based on utilization estimates. "KOMTRAX gives us the ability, along with our software, to monitor if that utilization goes up or down," says Kunin. "Then we can start looking at working hours. You know the undercarriage is not going to get used at all when [the machine] is idling; we are not counting that as wear. The only thing that is going to wear out the undercarriage on a dozer is back and forth."
The objective is to manage the undercarriage as cost effectively as possible without wasting valuable time. "We are using [KOMTRAX] as a tool of predictability," Kunin states. The goal is to catch the undercarriage at 90% or 95%, but before bushings are worn to the point they can't be turned. So the undercarriage world is constantly changing with new products and management tools. And we have heard there is even more on the way. Stay tuned!