... What’s That Crawling on Your Jobsite? One Machine, Unlimited Solutions

What’s That Crawling on Your Project Site? One Machine, Unlimited Solutions

RT9R rotating stone placement

Rotating functionality enables the Terramac RT14R to haul and dump materials while traversing terrain.

Rubber Tracked Crawler Carriers Excel on Pipelines

Equipment to meet the needs of pipeline construction and maintenance must be powerful and efficient. When equipment meets those requirements, as well as offers versatility and reliability in the field, that is the golden ticket. Low ground pressure and good traction are essential for traversing the expansive terrain variation on challenging pipeline jobsites. Rubber track crawler carriers possess each of these elements, making them the single most adaptable equipment solution for tackling pipeline projects.

In the past, wheeled trucks and steel-track carriers have been the go-to equipment option for many pipeline applications, but contractors discovered that productivity could suffer when these heavy-duty haulers are stuck in wet, muddy and hilly terrain. Rubber track crawler carriers like Terramac machines are specifically designed for operating on steep grades and working angles where standard trucks and wheeled vehicles cannot. Loaded, they exert minimal ground pressure between 5.3 – 8.3 psi, which allows for greater weight distribution and flotation to traverse poor ground conditions. Furthermore, when compared to traditional equipment, the smaller footprint of Terramac carriers creates less soil disturbance and need for remedial repair work which helps protect project budgets.

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Support equipment and the interchangeability of attachments has also become an incentive for utilizing crawler carriers on pipeline projects. Terramac crawler carrier machines are multi-purpose in that they are built with a frame that easily accommodates a variety of specialized pipeline equipment. Anything that can be placed on the back of a truck can be outfitted onto crawler carrier models. With crawler carrier sizes ranging between 6 to 14 tons of carrying capacity there is an equipment combination suitable for every step of the pipeline.


Clearing vegetation along the pipeline right of way creates a path for the pipeline and establishes the right of way for transporting materials and equipment during the construction process. Customizing crawler carriers with cranes helps to accomplish this task with more flexibility while maneuvering in and out of densely thick terrains and the strength and dexterity to lift, drag and haul brush.


vacuum excavation

Rotating functionality enables the Terramac RT14R to haul and dump materials while traversing terrain.

Identifying existing utility lines before trenching and laying pipe is often accomplished though potholing, and Terramac equips track units with a variety of vacuum excavation products. A Terramac RT6 carrier with a vacuum excavation attachment can apply 2,400 CFMs and has a 4-yard waste tank making it agile on pipeline right of way. The RT14 carrier can handle a larger attachment allowing it to utilize 5,200 CFMs with a 6-yard waste tank for potholing in more dense ground conditions. Regardless of size, the vacuum excavator paired with a crawler carrier improves the potholing process by providing contractors a safer, faster and more cost-efficient exposure of the pipelines.

“Crawler carriers are widely used for potholing along the pipeline for their nimble movement on all terrain types. They simply don’t get stuck like wheeled semi-trucks that were previously used,” says Chris Holomon, Enviro Services.

RT9 loader crane

Loader crane mounted to a Terramac RT9 crawler carrier.

Hauling and Transport

Material transport is easily handled with carriers due to their lighter footprint and incredibly powerful hydraulic system. Rubber track carriers offer a variety of bed styles to accommodate items such as sandbags, dirt, mats and more, which are typically transported between access points along the right of way. Rock beds and convertible beds are ideal for moving various types of materials whereas flatbeds lead the way on pipeline projects by hauling mats in preparation for heavier equipment to come through.

Crane attachments are another valuable crawler carrier tool. Terramac offers a variety of crane attachments across all models. The loader crane on the RT9 below provides a lifting capacity of 5 metric tons and an outreach ranging from 5.3 m to 11.3 m for lifting and loading heavy stationary equipment. It can also hold heating units and weld shacks in place while the crew works. The unit features jacks for increased stability and safety and a standard dump bed for multi-purpose functionality.

The Terramac RT7R and RT14R models are built with upper frames that rotate 360 degrees, allowing materials to be offloaded at any angle or on the go. Units will dump materials directly into the trench when padding the pipeline as well. The amount of time an operator saves by being able to drive in, dump and drive straight back out adds up quickly when you factor in how many loads are being hauled daily. Furthermore, rotating track trucks keep operators in a face-forward position for added safety.

RT14R Mat Hauling

The Terramac RT14R crawler carrier with flatbed lays mats on a pipeline right of way.

Personnel Transport

Rubber tracked carriers outfitted with 10-man or 25-man personnel carriers make the transport of crew members to and from a jobsite a safe, easy and efficient task. Personnel carriers are used throughout the entire pipeline project — from the clearing crews to the final reclamation crews — for their ability to transport the maximum number of workers with one vehicle while minimizing trips over rough, soft and steep ground conditions.

RT9 TAC welder

The Terramac RT9 crawler carrier’s versatility increases when paired with welding equipment.

“One personnel carrier can take up to 25 crew members plus all of their tools and meals safely out to the jobsite and back,” says Eric Rice, Product Analyst. “No need for multiple vehicles that get in the way or get stuck trying to get through. The cabins can also be enclosed and equipped with heaters to protect crews from the worksite elements, which makes a big difference.”

Pipeline Stringing

Transporting pipe along the right of way requires utmost strength and attention to detail. Crawler carriers equipped with a specialized 5th wheel attachment simplify the pipeline stringing process by pulling the stringing trailer. These carrier units allow the crew to efficiently string the pipe from end-to-end along the right of way, eliminating the need for using heavy haulers that cause soil damage or get stuck in adverse ground conditions while in transit.

Pipe Welding and Coating

Crawler carriers are often used as all-terrain welding systems. After the stringing and bending are complete, the pipe sections are aligned and need to be welded together. The Terramac RT9 with a tac welder unit has become highly useful on pipeline jobsites for its ability to deliver power for up to four welders at one time while also providing the shaded canopy necessary for crew to perfect welds. In addition, crawler carriers can be equipped with sandblasting rigs, air compressors and sandblast pots to make cleaning and coating a simple process for maintaining a pipeline over time.


Protecting the environment throughout a pipeline project is extremely important. Restoring the disturbed land to its native state is typically the final stage in a pipeline construction project, which requires specialized restoration equipment such as hydro-seeding units.

RT9 with hydroseeder

Restoring the disturbed site is simple with a Terramac RT9 paired with a hydroseeding unit.

“After the pipeline construction is complete, we use crawler carriers to haul and replace the topsoil along the right of way and then follow up with a hydro seeding unit to seed, fertilize, and mulch the land in one simple process,” says Roger Zacher, co-owner at Absolute Reclamation Services.

Other support equipment mounted to crawler carriers for the reclamation stage include straw blowers, bark blowers and water tanks which provide refills to the hydro-seeding equipment.

Crawler carriers are also used for the installation, maintenance and removal of erosion and sedimentation (E&S) control devices along the right of way.

“Due to the flotation from the units’ rubber tracks, we are able to safely maintain the E&S devices with minimal environmental damage and disturbance to the soil. Once we achieve 70 percent growth on the right of way, we can go back in and remove all the E&S devices,” says Zacher. “At this stage, landowners may also want the wood chips removed from their fields and pastures located along the right of way. We utilize the crawler carrier to haul all of that material back out, so the crews finish the job with little evidence they were ever there working.”

Pipeline contractors are realizing more and more that the rubber tracked crawler carrier produces unlimited solutions for conquering the most challenging projects presented on the right of way.

Savannah Adkins-Heron is senior marketing specialist at Terramac, a crawler carrier manufacturer based in Elburn, Illinois.

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