By: Tom McIntyre

There is a lot of care that goes into operating heavy equipment. Not only do you have to make sure each piece of heavy machinery is working properly, you also have to make sure it’s prepared for the changing seasons. On top of that, inexperienced operators will need to be trained to properly use this equipment in snowy or icy conditions.

Since the winter is rapidly approaching, you should learn how to properly prepare your tracked heavy equipment for the colder months. Here are a few things you should do to ensure that your equipment is working fine in the snow and ice all winter long.

Equip your grouser bars with ice lugs

Whether you’re using double grousers, which are meant for use on loaders, or excavators with triple grousers, you should have durable ice lugs attached to your equipment’s tracks to ensure maximum traction. Though you should also be concerned with machine and user safety, having ice lugs installed on your heavy equipment will greatly improve workplace efficiency as well. Your machine operators will be at much less risk of being harmed due to machine slips due to the increased traction and grip. Also, rather than spending time correcting track issues and slips, you’ll be able to accomplish much more tasks thanks to the enhanced grip provided by the ice lugs.

Because grouser bars have such an incredible effect on traction, you can also minimize machine downtime during the winter.

Use only high-quality tire chains

In a pinch, tire chains can provide some additional traction on snow and ice covered roads, but there are still limitations. Even with the highest quality tire chain, your machine won’t be able to safely operate at high speeds on ice or snowy surfaces. Know that you should be moving much slower (about twice as slow as dry surfaces, at least), so you should adjust your work schedule accordingly.

Change operating procedures as needed

The experts at Compact Equipment report that modifying your track for winter use will definitely provide improved traction and shorter stopping distances. While that can result in a marked improvement in winter performance, there are additional steps that need to be taken to ensure safe operation during the winter months.

In particular, drivers need to take care to change their behavior with the weather.

“Operators working in snowy conditions implement the same operating procedures as when working in mud, including utilizing three-point turns to protect sensitive surfaces and reduce stress to tires and tracks,” said Gregg Warfel, heavy equipment salesman said to Compact Equipment. “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. Operators should always be familiar with the existing landscaping and infrastructure before working with a compact loader and winter-work attachment.”

In addition to equipping your heavy machinery with lugs and tire chains, you’ll need to further winterize to ensure safety and maximum efficiency. Keep an eye out for part two of this series on how to prepare tracked heavy equipment for winter use, and contact 4NCorp to learn more about our selection of grouser bars and ice lugs.