Rubber track systems have been gaining a lot of interest in all areas of farm machinery design lately. But one German manufacturer, Annaburger, has taken the application of tracks a step beyond the usual tires-to-tracks conversion concept and created a floating chassis, which is designed to carry wheeled trailers across soft terrain.
Tractor-drawn trailers are common on the other side of the Atlantic, so the UniCrawler is designed to add floatation where needed to help get them across fields or reduce soil compaction. The tractor simply drives over the UniCrawler chassis, between the two rubber-track modules, and stops when the towed trailer is placed on the UniCrawler platform. The operator just sets the trailer brake and that keeps the trailer firmly locked on the UniCrawler. It could be chained, but that usually isn’t necessary.
When the tractor gets back to firm ground, the tractor driver releases the trailer brake and it rolls off, leaving the UniCrawler stationary.
“You don’t have to do anything, just brake the trailer,” said Sergii Giliev, Unnaburger’s export employee. “We can use the park brake, the trailer is parked on the platform and we can go.”
Although it was designed primarily as an aid to dump trailers, it could be used to move any type of equipment. And, Giliev adds, it could allow farmers to save money when buying trailers, because they wouldn’t be required to pay for optional floatation tires. They can rely on the UniCrawler for that.
The track modules are made in Quebec by Soucy Track, and the UniCrawler can handle a 32 tonne payload and accomodate trailers or equipment up to 3.2 metres wide.
The UniCrawler can be hydraulically folded up to a transport width of less than 2.55 metres when it has to be moved between fields. Wholesale price will be about $88,000 euros (CDN$125,000).
“It’s the first one which we’ve built, and we wanted to show it to our customers to hear what they’d say,” said Giliev. “It’s a prototype.”