To the uninitiated, the question of tires or tracks can seem inconsequential. But using the wrong set-up could cause lost productivity and damage to the equipment at best, or serious injury or even death to the operator, at worst.
Experienced heavy equipment renters already know the answer when the question is which type of skid steer loader is best — wheeled or tracked.
But a refresher is always nice.
Invented by brothers Cyril and Louis Keller in 1957 Minnesota, they intended the first loader help a local farm mechanize the process of cleaning turkey manure from the barn.
Melroe Manufacturing in Gwinner, North Dakota, bought the rights to the Kellers loader in 1958 and introduced a commercial model later the same year.
It all started in the Midwest which feeds everyone in America. Today, the machines are icons of ingenuity and are seen in action every day from urban construction sites to rural farms.
The latest models do much more than just shovel around turkey manure.
A skid steer loader from Green Equipment Rental can be used to move soil, dig holes, assist with landscape gardens, clean out stalls, and even dig a basement under an existing building — without demolishing the building.
Many skid steer loaders, also called skid steers or nicknamed “bobcat”, have tracks while others have wheels.
Which type is best? Both — depending on the project, site conditions, and other metrics. The choice comes down to the surface the equipment is used on.
Working on the level, hard soil, skid steers with wheels are the best choice. Thriving on paved ground, concrete areas, and landscape sites, skid steers with wheels are often used on renovations and extensions, but seldom on new building sites. On hard, smooth surfaces, the traction of a skid steer with tracks is wasted.
Skid steers with tracks move slower than those with wheels, on developed and prepared ground. Wheeled machines are efficient on flat ground job sites, but get bogged down on the uneven ground, which has not been properly prepared or land which is swampy.
Which is why tracks are better on difficult terrain.
Difficult Terrain Calls for Tracks
Tracks love a challenge and make light work of difficult surfaces like mud, sand, or snow. Tracks, as mentioned, perform better when the ground is wet and uneven.
“Uneven terrain includes, and wet and mucky ground conditions are challenging and rough on skid-steer loaders. Compact track loaders are designed and made to handle these conditions, said Hubert Gonzalez of Green Equipment Rental.
Can’t I Have Both?
For many construction companies, the best choice is to choose a vehicle that can be converted into either kind as required and dictated by the project or construction requirements.
Hybrid skid loaders are available for those jobs requiring work on both even and rugged areas. This variety has wheels that can be mounted with rubber or steel tracks.
Some models, such as the Kubota SVL and Kubota SSV are designed and Green Rental Equipment of Miami does not advocate putting tracks on the SSV machines.
How Long Do Skid Steer Tracks Last?
Compact loader tracks withstand enormous amounts of pressure over their life span. Rubber compact loader tracks typically last between 1200 and 1600 accumulative work hours. Tracks made of steel typically last at least two-and-a-half times more than rubber counterparts.
Having the right piece of heavy equipment on the job helps boost productivity. Higher productivity means higher revenue.
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