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Heavy Equipment – Why Some Equipment Use Tracks

One question that is often asked about heavy equipment is, “why does some machinery use tracks whilst others use standard wheels?”.

The answer is not as straightforward as some may think. Tracks first off, are the propelling devices similar to those used by army tanks. If you think about the size of some of the heavy equipment, in particular the weight; and then compare that to the surface they are working on; you may get some understanding.

Tracks distribute the weight along the base of the machine. Wheeled units distribute the weight across axles. Wheels can easily get stuck in mud, sand or clay surfaces; tracks can move over these surfaces with ease.

Wheeled heavy equipment can be easily overturned when carrying a load and hitting a large bump in the surface – either that or snap an axle. Tracks glide over these rough surfaces without any real problems.

Where wheeled heavy equipment does have an advantage is that it can often be driven on main roads. Tracked vehicles would cause too much damage on these surfaces. Ironically, when preparing a building site, a tracked vehicle can cause less damage to the soft surface than a wheeled vehicle.

Heavy equipment comes a number of different configurations. Ideally you should learn to operate both the tracked and wheeled units. Steering is completely different in a tracked unit. Wheeled units are steered much like a standard motor vehicle. Tracked units often use foot pedals to steer and change direction by changing the speed and direction (forward, stop, reverse) of the tracks independently.

ATS Heavy Equipment Training Schools can take you through the different types of heavy equipment, both tracked and wheeled. Send an inquiry and see what courses suit your needs.

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