What’s the best option for work on rough terrain?

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Track mounted vs. rough terrain equipment

What’s the best option for work on rough terrain?

 

When you’re aiming to choose between track mounted and rough terrain equipment, it boils down to tracks vs. wheels. That’s not to say there’s a clear-cut answer, as every work site is different and has varying demands of the equipment working on it. We can say that tracks have certain advantages that wheels don’t have, and vice versa. The trick is to know when to use what. That’s what this article is all about.

When you’re aiming to choose between track mounted and rough terrain equipment, it boils down to tracks vs. wheels.

What do we mean by rough terrain?

First, let’s get one thing straight – what do we mean by rough terrain? Anything rough isn’t your typical flat, hard asphalt or cement. This type of surface could be anything from an inclined terrain to gravel or rock, construction or demolition debris, sand, mud, clay even snow. You can get by with a wheeled electric boom indoors or on flat surfaces. A hybrid boom will do you for indoors or outdoors, but for rough terrain, you will need either a rough terrain boom lift or a track mounted boom.   

Lumping all these different types of rough terrain into one category is not necessarily helpful. Sure, they all differ from indoor conditions or even outdoor asphalt or cement, but they have unique properties in things like traction. Ice and snow, for instance, are difficult to get good traction on, whether you are using wheels or tracks. Harder terrain is better for wheels, whereas tracks are preferable for soft terrains like sand, mud, or gravel.

row of boom lifts

What are the advantages of track mounted equipment?

Track mounted equipment is more compact, which means it can fit into smaller spaces than standard rough terrain models. It is ideal for boggy muddy areas, as the greater surface area of the tracks allows the weight of the load to be spread out more across the ground. The technical explanation for this relates to point loads. That is the surface area or point at which tracks and tyres touch the ground.

Track mounted equipment is more compact, which means it can fit into smaller spaces than standard rough terrain models. 

If the surface area of contact is smaller, the point load will be larger and measured in pounds per square inch or PSI. Track mounted equipment tends to have a larger area of contact with the ground, so it has a smaller PSI.

This means that the weight is spread across a larger area, so less gravitational pressure is applied to the ground being worked on. 

In worksites full of mud, gravel, or construction debris, track mounted equipment is beneficial because it won’t get bogged down or stuck. If you’re working on high angles and gradients, track-mounted equipment will do a great job due to its self-leveling feature, keeping the basket or working platform steady.

While track mounted equipment is best suited to niche requirements, you’ll find a rough terrain model will do the job 95% of the time.

yellow boom lift

What are the advantages of rough terrain equipment? 

While track mounted equipment is best suited to niche requirements, you’ll find a rough terrain model will do the job 95% of the time. They are incredibly versatile, so we often refer to them as standard equipment for rough terrain. You can drive models of rough terrain boom lifts or scissor lifts just about anywhere, and if you’re concerned about ripping up a surface with the tyres, you can hire track mats from us, purpose-designed to protect surfaces while you are at work. Not every access company offers track mats for hire, but we do. Rough terrain equipment provides the benefit of being faster than track mounted models. You can get tasks done more efficiently, and they are generally more generous in work areas, with bigger baskets and platforms.

row of boom lifts

How do you choose what’s right for your worksite? 

When you’re choosing which equipment is going to be best for your worksite, there are a few things to take into account. First of all, consider your ground surface. Match the type of surface with the equipment designed for it. For example, muddy areas or surfaces with steep inclines would better suit track mounted equipment. Think about the space you have to set up in. Is there a tight gateway, door, or laneway you need to navigate? Track mounted equipment is more compact and could be the better option. Regarding reach, rough terrain models have greater flexibility in terms of outreach and height. 

If you’re still wondering which equipment to choose, track mounted or rough terrain, book in for an on-site assessment. We will come to your site, have a good look around and determine the best equipment for your needs. Based on our advice, you will enjoy a better match between your worksite and your equipment, resulting in more efficiency.