How to Grade with Bulldozers

2023-03-07 14:11:28


Knowing how to spread material with a dozer effectively can cut down on the time needed to complete construction projects. Mistakes made during land grading can set back jobs, costing the contractor and everyone on the construction team money. By using these tips and the right tools, you can learn to grade land correctly and efficiently and save time on building projects that require grading or spreading material.



How Do Bulldozers Grade Land?

Bulldozers use a blade to move earth, which can help with flattening land for roadways or construction sites. In the late 19th century, railroad companies first used bulldozers to prepare the ground for rail lines. These early bulldozers got their name from the pair of bulls that provided the power. A massive, flat blade behind the draft animals scraped the land. A driver rode on a two-wheeled caisson attached by an arm to the blade.


Tracked vehicles came into use to replace pack animals for driving tractors. However, tractors with blades would not have this track added to them until 1921. This early 20th-century innovation of putting both a motor and track onto the previous versions of bulldozers paved the way for future upgrades to the dozer. However, these early dozers could not move the blade vertically — but that would change in 1928.


By 1928, bulldozers got a cable and winch upgrade, which allowed the blade to move vertically as it pushed horizontally over the land. After the Second World War, dozers upgraded again to more closely resemble the devices used today by integrating hydraulic control of the blade.


Due to the extensive use of dozers and other equipment for grading during the 1930s and 1940s, engineers learned how to most effectively outline the best practices for leveling land by using gravity.


A dozer works by pushing land with a large blade at the front. As the machine moves forward, the base of the blade scoops up earth that it runs over, collecting it in the blade. The operator must control the blade to direct the soil to a collection location and prevent track slippage. While many learn these skills through experience, tools available to modern dozer operators make the job easier and more efficient.


Tips for Grading With Dozers

Regardless of your experience, you can always learn ways to cut down on your time and effort when grading land with a bulldozer. When it comes to leveling ground with a bulldozer, always keep these tips in mind for more efficient operation:


1. Make Short Cuts

Instead of dragging the dozer over a long strip of land, use shorter cuts through the earth instead. If the blade has too much soil in it, the excess will spill out from the sides, reducing the efficiency of the task. While making short cuts through the earth seems to increase the driving time, the higher efficiency reduces the need to go over a long track of land multiple times due to inefficient movement of soil.


2. Use Technology

Use technology to automate some tasks on the dozer to help with grading land. Grade control options can automate blade controls in three dimensions for more accurate, efficient grading. The technology of grade control improves the speed and accuracy of any grading project with a dozer. Installing this system allows a dozer to turn into a finishing tool. In some instances, the operator only needs a dozer with grade control technology to create the necessary land changes. By using only a dozer, you save time and reduce the need to have both a grader and dozer on site.


Instead of waiting years for operators to gain the experience to become experts at land grading manually, use technology to give any operator an edge in productivity. New hires and seasoned workers can both benefit from the information provided by grade control and other technological innovations available for land grading.


3. Keep an Eye on the Track Tension

Keeping the tracks on your dozer too tight will not help prevent slippage. In fact, if the tracks have too much tension, they will wear out prematurely — up to three times faster than correctly tightened tracks. Always tighten the track per the manufacturer’s guidelines. Also, do not adjust the tension after cleaning the track. As mud and dirt from the worksite get into the track, the tension will increase.


4. Use the Slot Sides to Increase Blade Capacity

When creating a slot in the earth, start at a position two vehicle lengths back from where you want the slot to start. Move forward to the slot’s start and push the soil in the blade into a pile at the end of the pass. The starting location for the slot will have a space for the dirt collected from digging out the space.


Make a second pass over the same area but start four vehicle lengths back from the pile of accumulated earth. Continue moving over the same area, increasing the distance of the slot by two tractor lengths until you have created the necessary extent of the slot. This method ensures that already leveled land stays flat.


This method of working from the front to the back of the slot allows the sides of the slot to hold more earth in the blade. In some cases, you could increase the amount the blade can hold by up to 30%.

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