On the introductory page of this blog I invite companies or individuals to submit articles that may be educational or interesting. This article was submitted by HXRT, an Australian manufacturer of rubber track. (www.hxrt.com.au) Though not strictly related to automation, this is the first contribution I have received so I am posting it. Though these tracks are used for tracked vehicles this can be loosely related to material handling applications. -Frank
The Difference between Rubber Tracks and Steel Tracks
Weighing track options for mini excavators or skid steer loaders can put you in quite a dilemma. It is really confusing to choose between rubber tracks and steel tracks for your machines. You need to choose the material of the tracks based on the costs, the terrain in which you plan to use them and the weather. These factors play a significant role in the durability of tracks.
To begin with, let us first understand why one should use continuous tracks over rubber tyres. Continuous tracks offer a large surface area, which distributes the weight of heavy vehicles better than tyres would. Tracked vehicles have better mobility on rough terrains, and are tougher than regular tyres and hence offer more durability than the latter. They offer better results in pulling and pushing large and heavy loads, whereas one can expect wheeled vehicles to dig into the ground.
As you are now aware of why one should prefer continuous tracks, let us now understand the difference between rubber tracks and steel tracks and which one serves a better purpose. Steel tracks are known for their longer life. Many experts feel that steel tracks do not wear off like rubber tracks and have double the life. They are popular to deal with stress better. Yet, steel tracks are noisier than rubber tracks. However, this can be an advantage for the safety of other people. The noise will make them aware that you are coming, giving them ample time to move.
Rubber tracks are a good option for pavements as they move easily on concrete finishes. However, on muddy roads, bushes and rocks, steel tracks are a better option. Rubber tracks provide a much smoother and quieter ride than steel tracks. So, if your work stays away from rough terrains, rubber tracks are definitely for you.
Rubber tracks lack slack in the system, so, if any debris gets between the tyre and the track, it will add tension to the track, axle and eventually the chain. Thus, steel tracks with rubber pads effectively help deal with this problem as they have slack in the track.
Steel tracks damage hard terrain like asphalt pavement. They often cause damage to less firm terrains too due to their sharp edges. To avoid damage to different types of terrains, rubber tracks offer the ideal solution. So, if you want to finish your work smoothly, without damaging any pavement, you can opt for rubber tracks or steel tracks with rubber pads.