Thursday, January 05, 2012

Military Construction Equipment

While reporters in the field seek to give TV viewers at home a clearer picture of the events that lead to victory or defeat in a wartime setting., those reporters seldom cover the path taken by military construction equipment. Sometimes, though, the enemy forces do make note of that path. Sometimes the enemy forces do use their weapons against military construction or convoy equipment. Sometimes that enemy force proves to be a deadly force. Then the enemy forces remind the TV viewers about the “behind-the-scenes” acts of courage that can play an important part in any planned military operation.

Armored Caterpillar D9R Bulldozer

The makers of military construction equipment have joined forces with the U.S. Department of Agriculture. Together, those two groups plan to discover and evaluate new fluids, fluids that can expand the number of conditions in which military construction equipment functions efficiently.

Casspir Gemsbok Recovery Vehicle

At the present time, the joint investigation has chosen to focus on bio-based hydraulic fluids. Such fluids are made from vegetable oils. Farmers who grow rapeseeds, sunflowers, corn, soybeans, canola plants, or coconuts applaud any acceptance of bio-based hydraulic fluids. Meanwhile, the makers of military construction equipment evaluate the lubrication abilities possessed by those same fluids.

The makers of military construction equipment appreciate the range of conditions in which their equipment needs to perform. By the same token, members of the military demand optimal performance from all manner of purchased construction equipment. The success of one military operation could well depend on the efficient operation of bulldozers, scapers, graders, loaders and cranes.

CAT Military Equipment

Each of those various pieces of equipment must be tested in a field setting. Evaluation of the test results should aid assessment of the important characteristics displayed by bio-based hydraulic fluids. Evaluation of the tested military construction equipment should yield measurements for three top-priority features, three of the features most-desired by users of construction equipment.

What are those features? One is coating thickness, the amount of lubricant that sticks to the moving parts on the construction equipment. A second feature is viscosity, the degree to which the lubricant resists changes to its form. The third feature is specific gravity, a measurement that is really a comparison. The specific density of a hydraulic fluid indicates how its density compares to the density of water.

Why does the military need to carry-out field tests when measuring the coating thickness, viscosity or specific gravity of bio-based hydraulic fluids? Can’t the appropriate personnel evaluate the performance of military construction equipment in a laboratory setting?

No, the combination of conditions in the laboratory can not duplicate properly the combination of conditions that a fighting force might find in the field. There, the temperatures might rise or fall precipitously. There, moisture of other elements in the air might act to diminish the performance of a less-than-perfect hydraulic fluid.

M88 Recovery Vehicle

That is why the military needs to schedule field tests on any military construction equipment, when the lubrication of that equipment depends, for the first time, on bio-based hydraulic fluids. The military can not deny the apparent economic benefits associated with bio-based hydraulic fluids. Yet military leaders in the U.S. want some assurance that unforeseen problems will not eat-up any money saved by a switch from petroleum-based to bio-based hydraulic fluids.

Many American farmers hope that leaders in the U.S. military will gain that assurance by examining the results from planned field tests.

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