Compact Track Loaders in the Snow

Compact Track Loaders

Gone are the days of being slow during the winter months. These days,
contractors are not just seeing winter white — but green. “Compact track loaders [CTLs] provide many benefits to contractors working in winter
weather,” says Jamie Wright, product manager, Terex Construction
Americas. “With a CTL and winter-application attachments, contractors
can work year-round, improving productivity during a season when their
machines may have otherwise sat idle.”

To extend the life of a CTL’s tracks and bogie wheels, operators working
in snowy conditions implement the same operating procedures as when
working in mud, according to Wright, including utilizing three-point
turns to protect sensitive surfaces and reduce stress to tracks.
“Operating on level terrain also decreases track wear,” says Wright.
“When operating on an incline, operators should drive straight up or
down. Do not make sudden changes in direction, move slowly and always
carry loads low to maximize machine stability.”

Some manufacturers offer specialized track options for improving machine
performance in the most extreme ground conditions. For example, Terex
Extreme Terrain Tracks are wider and feature more aggressive treads that
give operators added traction. These tracks are not recommended for use
on normal ground conditions, but are ideal for snow applications. When
working with a CTL in the winter months, Wright advises operators to
take the time in colder temperatures to not only warm up the engine, but
ensure the hydraulic oil is warmed up as well. “Machines need to
operate, not just run, for an average of 30 minutes,” adds Wright.
“Heating the hydraulic oil to temperature will ensure optimum response
time during operation.”

Also, adds Wright, following the manufacturer’s guidelines for regular
maintenance is important in keeping a CTL working safely and efficiently
in the winter months. “Before startup, any ice or snow that has
accumulated in the tracks and sprockets overnight, or while sitting
idle, should be cleaned out,” says Wright. “In cold weather and snow
applications, it is good to use common sense when it comes to the CTL’s
operation. As the weather conditions change throughout the day,
operators should be aware of how the loader is responding. The colder it
gets, the more frequent the maintenance checks should be.”

Finally, according to Wright, the loader should be properly equipped for
cold-weather operation: Options like enclosed cab and heat keep the
operator comfortable and productive during long hours in winter
applications. The use of snowblower, snowplow and sweeper broom
attachments, to name a few winter-weather attachments, on a CTL during
the winter months is a great way to enhance a company’s productivity,
keeping equipment busy when other projects may be shut down.

“Operators must consider several factors when choosing the safest and
best attachment for winter work,” says Wright. “Attachments need to be
correctly sized for the compact track loader.  Attachments should be at
least as wide as the machine, and the loader needs to have enough
hydraulic horsepower available to run the attachment. Attachments should
always weigh less than the loader’s rated load capacity.”

And, adds Wright, operators should always be familiar with the existing
landscaping and infrastructure before they start working with a CTL and
winter-work attachment. For example, when using a snowblower attachment,
it’s critical to know where the discharged snow will go. It’s equally
important to be attentive to what other debris may be going into — and
coming out of — the attachment.

Amber Reed is a technical writer with Signature Style PR, based in Huntersville, N.C.

 

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