Undercarriage components wear at different rates depending on a number of factors: –
- Working environment
- Condition of surrounding components
- Operator skill level
- Shoe selection
- Track Tension
- Maintenance regime
The undercarriage is changing daily and the maintenance strategy requires balancing the above factors as best as possible to achieve the TARGET LIFE on the components. This will also result in a target cost per hour.
The TARGET LIFE for a particular job site environment and machine is determined by historical performance of components in this environment as well as what other job sites are achieving in a similar environment. The TARGET LIFE is set for the machine and then all ACTUAL LIFE and FORECAST RESIDUAL LIFE performance is compared with this number.
Regular inspections at specific intervals (500 hours for dozers and greater for excavators) indicate how the ACTUAL LIFE is tracking compared to the TARGET LIFE.
The inspection will indicate component wear percentage and forecast residual life. The result will also highlight components showing accelerated wear.
Where components are showing accelerated wear, the cause should be investigated. (Track Tension, Operator, condition of surrounding components, etc)
Intervention or corrective maintenance might need to be taken to bring the component back on track to achieve the TARGET LIFE. This may include replacement or rebuilding of certain components so that the entire system achieves the TARGET LIFE. (Worn components will cause surrounding components to accelerate wear).
There will also be a balancing of maintenance costs against loss of production costs. This can often be solved using swing chains. This of course will require serial numbering of chains and then tracking of the chains from one machine to another.
The Undercarriage components and the entire undercarriage system is thus managed to the end of life trying to achieve 100 to 120% worn on all components within the undercarriage system. Anything less that 100% worn means money is being left on the table. In undercarriage this can be large dollars with >50% of maintenance costs being made up of undercarriage costs on tracked machines.
There really is no alternative to regular undercarriage inspections for managing undercarriage and saving dollars.
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