Crawler equipment can handle many different
applications with the right attachments.
Excavators Loren Heaney, senior product
manager, LBX Company, makers of Linkbelt Material Handling
Equipment, said, "There are special needs for each market
segment, whether it's demolition, scrap handling, landfill
applications, and so on."
He added, "A manufacturer needs to be
flexible in how they make specialized equipment, with different
undercarriages or different counter weights. Get a machine
that is tailor-made for your operation, whether demolition,
scrap handling, or logging.
"Anyone can sell an excavator to a distributor
who then modifies it. A machine is better if it leaves the
factory designed for the job the customer desires."
The workmanship of the machine is an important
feature, said Tom Connor, excavator product representative,
"Look over the welds. Look at the types
of materials and metals that are used. Look at the hosing,
'plumbing' routes for the hydraulics. Make sure it does
not look like there will be any problems with the way the
hoses are laid out. Along the same lines, look at the paint
quality as well."
Charley Hall of Iron Ax, added, "You need
to look at the way the machine performs, its stability during
operation and if the engine has enough power to adequately
maneuver the machine."
The crawler (tracked) machines give the
operator great flotation on soft ground. It allows the operator
to reach areas that a wheeled-vehicle may not get to reach.
The weight is distributed over a much larger area. Tracks
also allow you to go over trenches easier than with other
types of machinery. Crawlers also are suited for jobs that
require a machine to move short distances frequently.
Excavators come in a variety of sizes
depending on the need.
1.) Bobcat 341
2.) CAT 345B
3.) Fuchs RHL-350
4.) Daewoo 220
Mr. Heaney said, "If you already own a machine, you have
a better idea of your needs. Many customers want a replacement
excavator to do the work faster. The production needed or
wanted is an important factor too.
"The customer needs to look past the purchase
price and at what the business requires. Pushing a machine
to its limits or beyond may hamper production and the bottom
line," he added.
Don R. Smith, Caterpillar product specialist,
said, "You need to ask yourself, how much, how high and
how far. You need to look at how much you are moving or
processing per hour, how high the building is you're demolishing
or how far of a reach you need."
Mr. Connor added an example, "If you are
purchasing an excavator for digging, you want to look for
something that can handle well beyond the point you want
to dig. If you normally dig down 10 feet, you want something
that can dig beyond 10 feet."
For lifting, there are lifting charts to
make sure a customer is getting the needed stability and
Mr. Smith, added that you need to determine
exactly what you want. For demolition purposes, the applications
usually can be categorized as stripping, cutting, crushing
and pulverizing. If a machine is destined for multiple uses,
make sure that is known. Recycling operations often use
the machines for material handling- unloading and loading
materials or feeding a processor.
Mr. Hall said, "You need to look at the
size of your magnet or grapple. This helps determine what
size machine you will need."
Visibility and cab comfort are also important.
Mr. Connor said, "People should crawl in
the cab and check the visibility around the machine. You
need to be comfortable with the control layout. The controls
should be easy to reach and easy to understand."
He added many people look at how well the
controls react. It is important that the controls react
the same way all the time so the operator knows what to
expect. If a person gets in and out of the cab often in
a day, they may also want to consider how easy it is to
get in and out of the machine.
"Some crawlers are designed specifically
for scrap handling," Tom Skodack of Fuchs Terex, Inc. explained.
"Scrap handlers are designed for load plus lift instead
of digging. The undercarriage is the first step in the design.
It is designed for heavy lifting and lifting large pieces."
As with excavators, the size of machine
is determined by lifting tonnage per hour and the size of
the attachment, whether it is a grapple, magnet, or rotating
Mr. Skodack said ground conditions determine
whether a customer needs a crawler or wheeled-machine. Crawlers
work very well on softer ground.
Attachments give a machine its versatility.
Mr. Heaney said, "An excavator is really a mobile hydraulic
power source for any number of attachments. There is a tremendous
volume of new widgets available with hydraulic motors on
them. There are literally hundreds of attachments now available."
If a person is changing attachments for
different parts of a job often, one feature they may want
to look at is a "quick attach" feature. This allows an operator
to change attachments directly from the cab.
Mr. Skodack said, "You can use the shear,
then, from the cab, switch to the grapple and load the material
Mr. Connor added, "It encourages the operator
to use the right attachment for the right job. The operator
will switch to the hydraulic jack hammer to break up some
concrete, rather than trying to use the bucket."
Hydraulic equipment must be kept lubed
and normal engine maintenance including oil changes should
be performed. Companies offer preventative maintenance guides
with daily, weekly and monthly steps to keep the machine
in good working order.
Service and Warranty
Most excavators and scrap handlers are
sold through distributors and dealers. When purchasing a
new machine, a customer needs to consider the dealer as
well as the manufacturer.
"You need to check the dealer history,"
said Mr. Connor. "Are they going to be there in a month,
in a year, even longer? Do they provide good service once
the machine is purchased?" Parts availability is very important,
Mr. Hall pointed out. "Most dealers should be able to get
a 'parts delivery evaluation.' These are usually for a one-year
period and show how many parts were available and the time
frame on delivery.
The dealership normally provides training
for the equipment. Manufacturers provide training courses
for the dealer's, the dealer employees and the customers.
Training at the customer site may be available as well.
The typical industry warranty is one year
or 1,500 to 2,000 hours. Extended warranties, generally
up to five years, are available.