by Diana Barnum, Correspondent
Let’s consider that the average life of a dozer undercarriage is about
4,000 hours. Since excavators are not as mobile as dozers, their
undercarriage life is generally around 12,000 hours. But the bottom line
on equipment life is management. A quick 30- to 45-minute equipment check
by a trained professional can tell whether or not your undercarriage will
even withstand half its estimated lifetime.
“The number one concern
with heavy equipment is the undercarriage,” said Gary Steele, product
support sales manager at Columbus Equipment Company in Columbus, Ohio.
“Whether you’ll make or lose money often depends upon how you manage
Komatsu distributor Columbus Equipment, founded in
1952, handles equipment management in a variety of different ways. First
and foremost is their trained field support staff who come out to the work
site at no charge to conduct a thorough examination of the equipment. The
contractor does not even have to be a past client or have equipment from
them to utilize their services. Staff members use absolute measurements to
examine wear on external and internal pins. They check the rollers,
idlers, bushings and more and educate the equipment operator or owner
about upcoming needs that would result in the best usage of his
“For example, the bushings need rotated before it is too
late,” said Jeff Brackett, shop coordinator. “If it gets too flat, you
have gone past the wear limit and will lose wear life.” Brackett and other
support staff help educate the client by teaching them to feel the
bushings by hand to determine if they are approximate wear.
At some facilities they use Komatsu America’s new e-CARE Track
Management System (TMS). This system is a database application program
that enables intercommunication between the customers, partners and
vendors also known as an Extranet based program.
“It’s great for
building parts’ lists,” said Rick Ransburgh, product support sales
representative. “You can click parts graphics and immediately go to
descriptions, start a parts’ list and continue on with the next
Data used to be input manually, but now, it is input with an
ultrasonic download component.
“e-CARE allows direct input via
electronic tooling that allows you to measure undercarriage wear by
entering predetermined values and calculating the expected life of the
undercarriage,” explained Steele.
Here are basic functions and new
features of e-CARE (TMS):
• Calculates the percentage of worn and
potential equipment life automatically
• Creates professional customer
• Shares undercarriage information among distributor branches
via the Extranet
• Shares separate information for on-site customer
• Maintains management reports for follow up maintenance
Easy to use screen form for data entry
• Links with “Today’s News” with
links to parts and service news articles about undercarriages.
links with Komatsu Undercarriage Manual
Not only will inspections and
early maintenance extend undercarriage life, they will help increase
production and decrease downtime.
Although all eight Columbus
Equipment locations throughout the state of Ohio are not utilizing e-CARE
technology, plans are in the works to add more equipment. Komatsu also has
an eParts store in its infancy stages of development that should be ready
for unveiling around June. At this time, customers can log on and view a
parts book with daily updates.
Columbus Equipment mechanics and
technicians, about 80 throughout the state, attend a training center in
Columbus with teacher Ken Hyme. He instructs them mainly about hydraulics
and electrical systems, mostly diagnostics.
“You can’t fix it if you
don’t know what’s wrong with it,” said Hyme.
And “fix it” they do in a
huge area taking up both sides of the street or about four city blocks or
more on Kingston Avenue. Students work outside on a couple of lots or in
doors in their warehouse facilities.
“There is a lot of hands-on
training,” said Mike Smith, mechanic and past student.
undercarriage repairs at Columbus Equipment include rails, sprockets,
idlers, idle wear strips, top and bottom rollers, track adjuster rebuilds
and pad replacement.
For more information about these 30- to 45- minute
wear checks, contact the Columbus Equipment Company at 50 E. Kingston Ave,
Columbus, OH 43207. Call: (614) 443-6541; or fax inquiries to: (614)
443-2602. Visit them online at