Crawler carriers are redefining the transportation of materials, equipment & personnel
by Erica LoPresti
May 28, 2018

While standard-wheeled and steel track carriers have traditionally been the go-to solution for most material transport applications, a growing number of industries are finding productivity suffers when these heavy haulers become stuck in wet ground conditions. Additionally, the machines often cause enough soil damage in transit to call for remedial repair work, which leads to project cost overruns.

For companies working in highly-competitive industries, such as utility, mining and drilling, pipeline, environmental and general construction, even a slight miscalculation of budget can determine whether a profit is made.

“Crawler carriers are designed for the kind of terrain that wheeled trucks and other vehicles cannot handle due to ground conditions, grade or working angles,” says Mike Crimaldi, chief executive officer of Terramac.

A unique flotation design of the unit’s rubber tracks allows the vehicle to exert low ground pressure at full capacity, leaving a minimal footprint for less soil disturbance, while providing reduced slippage for the toughest weather and terrain conditions.

The result is the ability to take field workers, equipment and raw materials, such as dirt, mud and rocks, into remote locations to complete projects on time and on budget.

Innovation & Customization

Tackling tough terrain has led to the need to outfit these rubber-tracked carriers for industry-specific applications to further enhance jobsite productivity. “Built with a frame to easily accommodate customizations, the multipurpose carrier can support various types of specialized equipment for the job at hand,” according to Crimaldi. “Electrical power sources, frame adjustments and hydraulics can all be modified to suit any attachment without altering the unit’s chassis.”

Crawler carriers are redefining the transportation of materials, equipment and personnel as manufacturers engineer the units to allow for limitless application customizations, some of which include the following.

1. Utility

Adding a digger derrick to the crawler chassis provides the ability to dig holes, lift and set poles, turn screw anchors and set transformers in the hardest-to-reach locations.

Rubber-tracked carriers can also accommodate boom-tip configurations, multiple-sized augers for different job site applications and outriggers for extra stabilization.

“The crawler carrier/digger derrick unit is a great addition to the utility industry because it can adapt to the environment of any job site,” says Matt Slater, director of sales at Terramac. “Its ability to effortlessly maneuver through the toughest terrain, reach the most remote job sites and dig, lift and set on any ground condition makes it a unique customization for the industry.” Other utility support equipment, such as aerial lift trucks, cable handling trailers and combination pole/reel trailers can be mounted to the carrier for ultimate versatility.

2. Mining & Drilling

The low ground pressure of tracked carriers is ideal for tailings pond management, travel on leach pads and exploration drilling on mining job sites due the units’ ability to conquer wet and unstable ground conditions. Rubber-tracked carriers can also be configured with a water tank and hydraulic crane unit to support mineral exploration applications, a spray boom for dust suppression on tailings ponds and a variety of technical drill rigs for soil sampling year-round.

Crawler carriersCrawler carriers are often used as all terrain welding systems.

3. Pipeline

To conquer the toughest pipeline jobs, rubber-tracked carriers can be outfitted with a variety of industry tools and equipment, including tac welders, pipe heating units and cranes. Crawler carriers improve the process of potholing on a pipeline when mounted with hydro vacuum excavation units. “Utilizing a crawler carrier with a hydro excavation unit allows our customers to have easier access to job sites in rougher, more treacherous terrain,” says John Lucki, vice president of operations at Cross Country Infrastructure Services. “The two-in-one machine provides our customers with safer, faster and more cost-efficient exposure to pipelines and positively impacts their bottom line.”

4. Personnel Transport

Transporting workers to and from a job site can be challenging, but due to their ability to efficiently and safely maneuver over rough, soft and steep ground conditions along pipeline spreads, personnel crawler carriers make it a cinch.

“One carrier can take up to 25 crew members plus all of their tools and meals safely out to the job and back,” says Jeff Wade, owner of Ace Pipeline. “No more multiple vehicles getting in the way or getting stuck trying to get through. They can be enclosed with heaters to protect them from the elements, which makes a big difference.”

suppression unitMounted with a suppression unit, the crawler carrier conquers dust control.

5. Hauling

Flatbed crawler carriers lead the way on oil and gas pipeline job sites by hauling mats to be laid in preparation for heavier equipment to pass through, while dump-bed carriers that are fully-loaded haul the heaviest material and exert low pounds per square inch (psi) levels. The bed versatility allows these units to transport various types of materials, including dirt, mud, rocks, crib blocks, pipe and sand bags.

“Crawler carriers enable contractors to effortlessly transport raw materials and supplies to jobsites while minimizing environmental damage,” says Teramac’s Slater. “And with the ability to maneuver in all types of terrain, crawler carriers can easily haul material on asphalt roads without damaging the surface.”

6. Environmental

In addition to minimized footprint and soil disturbance, crawler carriers can be equipped with specialized restoration equipment, such as hydroseeding units, broadcast seeders, bark blowers and straw blowers. “The hydroseeding unit allows the environmental crew to spray the seed mix for erosion control with fewer disturbances on the surrounding soil,” says Billy Evans, general manager of Shafer Equipment. “The crews can finish the job with little evidence they were ever there working.”

The hydroseeding unit allows users to seed, fertilize and mulch in one simple process. Crawler carriers with water tanks are also used to supply the hydroseeding crew with a steady supply of water to
increase production.

Hydroseeding unitsCrawler carriers tackle environmentally sensitive jobs with a variety of restoration equipment.

7. Tight Quarters

Due to a lack of maneuverability while offloading materials using standard straight frame technology, tighter spaces create limited productivity.

To enable the crawler carrier to haul and dump materials at