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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, Bobcat Company.

"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.

Various Handlers
1.) Bobcat 341
2.) CAT 345B
3.) Fuchs RHL-350
4.) Daewoo 220 LC-V
5.) Link-Belt 330LX

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 safety.

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.

Scrap Handlers

"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 shear.

Mr. Skodack said ground conditions determine whether a customer needs a crawler or wheeled-machine. Crawlers work very well on softer ground.

Attachments

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 you sheared."

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."

Maintenance

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.


Crawler Excavators & Scrap Handlers Manufacturers
Company Name
Contact Person
Phone Number
Bobcat Company
Tom Connor
701-241-8747
Case Construction
Robin Killian
262-636-6011
Caterpillar
Don R. Smith
309-675-1000
Daewoo Heavy Industries
770-831-2200
Fuchs Terex, Inc.
Tom Skodack
910-332-8563
Gehl Co.
Pat Bright
262-334-9461
Hitachi Construction and Mining
Jim Mitchell
309-765-1848
Iron Ax, Inc.
Charley Hall
877-2IRONAX
JCB, Inc.
912-447-2000
John Deere
Jim Mitchell
309-765-1848
Kobelco America, Inc.
Robert Bernardi
730-260-4000
Komatsu America Intl. Co.
Lee Haak
847-970-4100
LBX Company
Dave Baldridge
859-245-3900
Liebherr Construction Equip. Co.
Paul Hill
757-245-5251
New Holland Construction
Robert Bernardi
730-260-4000
Terex
Constantino Lannes
662-393-1209
Thomas Equipment Ltd.
John Morris
506-276-4511
Volvo Construction Equipment
Peter Causer
828-650-2000