Heavy equipment tends to carry a similarly hefty price tag, and the key to making the most of your investment is carefully researching your options before committing in order to ensure that you choose the right equipment for your particular line of work. One of the most important choices you will need to make is between tires and tracks.
In making this decision, you must reflect on the nature of your particular work and how you need your machine to function. Wheeled machines and tracked equipment differ in four key respects, and each of these points should be taken into consideration in order to make the best choice for your needs.
Being able to maneuver well is critical to perform tasks with precision. Greater maneuverability typically translates into improved productivity and efficiency. A key component of maneuverability is traction, and tires and tracks provide significantly different levels of traction across many surface types.
In general, rubber tracks offer superior traction and improved functionality across a wide range of surfaces when compared to tires. In some conditions, tires actually can offer better traction; for example, in snow, the increased down pressure that tires provide can provide greater forward power by penetrating underneath the snow to reach a surface with firmer traction.
But in adverse or poor ground conditions, tracked machines almost always offer much better traction thanks to their increased surface area and contact with the ground. In fact, tracks offer superior traction in almost every type of ground condition, from soft dirt to wet mud, and this improved traction directly typically translates to better maneuverability.
One key difference between wheeled machines and tracked equipment is the impact that each has on the ground. Rubber tracks have significantly more surface area than tires do, allowing a tracked machine’s weight to be more evenly distributed than wheeled machines. For this reason, tires are more likely to tear up and damage the ground than tracked equipment.
For some applications, the impact on the ground is less important. For example, when working at a new construction site, there may be less concern for preserving the surface upon which the equipment is used.
However, heavy equipment is often used for jobs when the surface is already prepared or landscaped. In these cases, using wheeled equipment can lead to costly damage. Tracked equipment provides its owner more versatility, as it can be used on all types of surfaces with less risk of causing turf or ground damage, thus reducing the need to perform ground repairs or clean up.
An important consideration when purchasing heavy equipment is how durable the machine will be over time. Whatever the particular nature of your work is, choosing equipment that can stand up to your typical work conditions and continue to function well over thousands of hours of use is critical.
For certain uses, tires can offer better longevity as compared to rubber tracks. Improved surfaces such as concrete or asphalt tend to wear tracks down more quickly than tires. Furthermore, if you plan on traveling significant distances while on job sites, wheeled machines may be preferable from a durability standpoint.
However, tires are susceptible to certain damage that tracked machines are immune to, and such impairments can take a machine out of commission and result in costly downtime.
For example, tires are vulnerable to punctures, and flat tires must be mended or replaced before work can continue. If your typical work surface has a high potential for hazards, you may find that a tracked machine can offer much greater durability.
For many who are in the market for heavy equipment, the relative cost of different types of machines is one of the most important factors to weigh before making a decision. At first glance, this metric would seem to favor wheeled machines. After all, heavy equipment with wheels tends to have a lower initial price tag than tracked machines of the same size.
However, keep in mind that when you are purchasing equipment, the initial cost does not equal the lifetime value. First, maintenance costs associated with replacing either the tires or the tracks must be kept in mind. On this issue, the relative price of wheeled equipment versus tracked machines is more comparable.
While replacement tires cost less than replacement tracks, wheels must be replaced much more often. Tracks can last for up to 1,600 hours of use, while tires need to be changed as often as every 600 hours of use.
Furthermore, the potential for downtime must be taken into consideration when weighing the relative costs of wheeled versus tracked equipment. Wheeled machines carry a significantly higher risk of downtime in order to replace tires or to repair flats, and downtime on the job site can carry a very heavy cost in the form of lost revenue.
In short, both wheeled and tracked equipment have advantages and disadvantages, and the specifics of your job requirements, the conditions on your job sites, and your long-term budget need to be taken into consideration before committing to either type of heavy equipment.
However, tracked machines are becoming increasingly popular thanks to their overall application in a wide range of situations and on a variety of different surface types. As a good rule of thumb, you should opt for the machine that will be the most useful in the majority of the applications that you will need it for, and generally tracked machines offer better versatility than wheeled machines do.
For more information, visit Dominion Equipment Parts online or call us at 866-366-0225.
Search by Make & Model
Dominion Rubber Tracks are available for all mini excavators, compact track loaders and tracked Carriers. Our replacement undercarriage parts include a fully stocked line of sprockets, rollers and idlers, manufactured to the highest quality control standards. Dominion Equipment Parts is also the exclusive OEM parts distributor for Morooka Rubber Track Carriers in the United States, Canada, Mexico, Central and South America.