The right machine for the right application is clearly important, in terms of efficiency, safety and other staple requirements of the jobsite, so there are times when compact equipment is necessary.
One company that is a compact equipment specialist is Bobcat, and this year it is celebrating the 60th anniversary of its skid steer loader.
The company said that in 1958, Melroe Manufacturing Company, the forerunner to Bobcat, introduced a compact front-end loader that evolved quickly into the M-400, which Bobcat described as the world’s first true skid steer loader. The M-400 adopted the Bobcat brand in 1962.
Much has changed in that time, and indeed many of the innovations that have led the compact loader to where it is today have been introduced relatively recently.
And the developments continue, with construction machinery often accused of lagging behind other industries. Certainly the automotive industry is blazing more of a trail than construction.
Alvaro Pacini, president of Doosan Bobcat EMEA (Europe, Middle East and Africa), said, “It will be some years until we get to where the automotive industry is today.”
He added, however, that he did not think that automotive could teach construction that much.
“There are some similarities – but not much,” he said. “We understand that in the future connectivity and digitalisation is the trend. It’s much easier to have these in automotive than in construction. Also in construction the application will be different.
“For our company, for OEMs (original equipment manufacturers, there are questions we have to ask ourselves – where to invest, when to invest? This is important because we don’t have limitless money. You have to select the next investment you are going to do.”
He said that for Bobcat, in the last five years it had invested around €100 million.
“We have invested money in order to better organise our production system, and also to develop new products, and new IT systems to prepare for growth that we’re seeing now. We’re planning for the next five or six years to see another €100 million to €110 million investment.”
For some, the compact equipment arena is an obvious choice for considering electrical power and autonomous vehicles, but Pacini and Bobcat are not rushing in that direction.
“I still want to see what is going to happen, in terms of the application, in terms of the reliability of this type of machine. We believe it is a trend but I think we still do not know where we can go with these types of electrical machines.”
He said, “There are essentially two strategies in terms of Stage V emission regulations – to downsize engines to stay below 25HP (18.5kW), using mechanical, well proven and cost-effective engines while optimising hydraulic and powertrain systems to maintain machine performance that meets customer expectations.
“Optimisation is primarily done through the hydraulic system set up. This strategy has been applied in the small frame skid steer loaders.”
He said the second strategy was to introduce electronically-controlled engines for the category above 25HP.
“Bobcat Stage V engines have been developed in collaboration with well proven suppliers such as Bosch. The Bobcat Stage V engines will use state-of-the-art technology, such as 1,800bar common rail pressure to maximise efficiency, and DPFs (diesel particulate filters) to reduce NOx emissions.”
For Bobcat, he said the company saw the loader market as being composed of two areas – compact track loaders (CTLs) and skid steer loaders (SSLs).
“We expect continued growth of CTLs, specifically in high productivity applications such as land clearing, grading, utility (wheel saw and planning), and landscaping, working all year round in all conditions and terrains.
“Bobcat has a complete product range to meet all customer needs.”
For SSLs, Pacini mentioned demolition, which he said continued to be a strength – especially at the smaller end of the range.
Finnish-based Avant Tecno is also acompact equipment specialist, and it has been exploring the possibilities of electric machines for some time.
The first fully electric Avant e5 in Finland was sold to a dairy farm. There is also the Avant e6, which like the e5 is a fully electric, battery-powered loader. Avant said it was possible to work with full power without emissions, so the machine was therefore particularly suited for working inside.
A Finnish demolition, diamond drilling and diamond cutting company, Tampereen Porausteam (Tampere drilling team), tested the Avant e6. The company often works in confined spaces indoors where the noise-level, emissions and compact size of machinery are of the essence.
The Avant e6 was tested at two demolition sites – one site had extremely confined spaces and there was a total ban of using combustion engines at the other.
Sakari Haapaniemi of Tampereen Porausteam said, “On both demolition sites, the Avant e6 has been used in transporting demolition waste from site. At both sites space has been limited – the loader has only just managed to fit through the narrow passages, and on both sites Avant has been the only machine compact enough to use at all.
“The small size and agility combined with impressive power make it an ideal machine for a demolition contractor. The silent machine is a great comfort-factor for the workers and for the environment as well.”
The recently-launched Komatsu WA100M‐8 compact wheeled loader is said to provide effortless and low‐cost operation with a powerful EU Stage IV engine and the Komatsu Selective Catalytic Reduction (SCR) system, a new ergonomic design, a high level of standard specifications and an array of new options.
It has a hydraulic quick‐coupler, Easy Fork kinematic and can take a range of attachments.
The Komatsu WA100M‐8 is said to be built on the strong base of the WA100M‐7
Product manager Sebastian Zienau said, “The WA100M‐8 is built on the strong base of the WA100M‐7, and with its many new features and options it opens up a whole new range of versatility.”
The WA100M‐8 has an operating weight of 7,200kg. Its EU Stage IV Komatsu SAA4D94LE‐3 engine produces 70kW net, and it claims high torque even at low rpms, while a fully-automatic hydrostatic transmission sends power to all four wheels.
Komatsu said that with high rimpull, superior breakout power, high lifting and dumping height, and enough reserves for even the most difficult ground conditions, the WA100M‐8 also featured low fuel consumption.
The new Liebherr L 507 and L 509 stereoloaders were launched earlier this year, and the company said that this completed the latest stereoloader range. There are now four models with operating weights of 5.5 to 9.2 tonnes.
It said the stereo steering, which has been used over the past 20 years, was at the heart of the stereoloaders. The Liebherr steering system claims a significantly smaller turning circle than other articulated wheeled loaders.
Liebherr also said that the new models had spacious operator’s cabs and intuitive operation, and that thanks to innovations such as an optimised Z-bar linkage, the new models helped working efficiently on site.
As JCB celebrates 25 years of skid steer production, the company is launching seven new large-platform skid steer loaders and compact tracked machines. The machines feature a new Hi-Viz boom, which is mounted 50mm lower, which is said to improve visibility from the cab further.
Based on the firm’s large skid steer platform, the previous 225 becomes the 250, and the 260 is renamed the 270. The 300 and the 330 remain unchanged.
On the compact tracked loader side, the 225T is now the 250T, the 260T becomes the 270T, and the 300T is unchanged.
Hard pipe hosing is used on the inner side of the boom for further protection from damage, while a bolt-on wear plate avoids wear on the quick hitch from frequent attachment changeover.
The tilt cylinder is now protected within the end of the boom. This repositioned tilt cylinder allows the cab to be raised for maintenance with the boom in any position. The tilt cylinder also boasts a larger diameter, to boost bucket tearout by 10% on the new 250 and 270 models.
Kubota’s R082 is said to deliver maximum levels of productivity and efficiency, allowing operators to tackle a wide range of loading, lifting and moving tasks with ease.
Powered by a 47.3 PS Kubota diesel engine, the R082 is said to be one of the most cost-effective models in the Kubota range, enabling users to get more done in less time.
The R082 claims a long dumping reach and high dumping clearance. A key feature of the loader’s functionality is its arm’s tilt/parallel movement, which the company said kept loads upright when raising or lifting the arm. Also, its differential lock system gives the operator the ability to engage both the front and rear wheels for slip free traction.
The R082 is said to be one of the most cost-effective models in the Kubota range
A high visibility cabin is said to provide improved views from all directions. The rear of the cabin features rounded glass corners that, when combined with its sloped bonnet, claim excellent visibility when reversing. Up front, a wide view and redesigned Z-bar linkage configuration allows for unobstructed views of the pallet fork tips.
Kubota said that maintenance on the R082 was straightforward, with the engine bonnet at the rear opening wide, providing quick and easy access to the machine’s main service areas. Items that require routine maintenance and service are within easy reach for fast and simple servicing, it added.
The L30G and L35G compact wheeled loaders from Volvo Construction Equipment have been around for nearly three years. Powered by a Volvo D3.3M engine, they meet Stage IIIB emissions requirements without the need of a DPF.
Described as being well-protected and offering incredible manoeuvrability, the 5.5 to 6.1 tonne Volvo compact wheeled loaders are said to be particularly suitable for working in restricted or tight spaces.
The company claimed that the curved windshield provided good forward view, while a change to the wiper and lower exhaust stack offered greater field of view, optimising rear-visibility.
The L30G and L35G compact wheel loaders claim to offer a smooth ride whatever the terrain. The articulated oscillating joint and optional boom suspension system is designed to absorb bumps, while the dual hydraulics system enables simultaneous lifting and steering.
Thanks to the Volvo portal axles and 100% differential locks for front and rear wheels, the compact loaders claim best-in-class ground clearance and unbeatable traction. With a flip of a switch, the operator can engage the differential locks to ensure that full power is distributed to each of the wheels, reducing tyre slippage on unstable ground conditions.
The Giant brand of loaders from Tobroco claims to be entering a new segment with the G4500 X-TRA, saying that the new G4500 series was complete after the standard and Tele versions had been introduced in November last year.
The X-TRA model is specifically designed to perform heavy work in the construction and earthmoving business. Depending on the options, a G4500 X-TRA has an operating weight between 4,400 and 5,200kg and tipping loads between 3,500 and 5,000kg.
It said the compact wheeled loader had been developed with productivity as one of the spearheads. It has a 56kW Kubota diesel engine, equipped with a diesel oxidation catalyst (DOC) and DPF that meet the latest Stage V standards.
Various hydraulic systems are available. The basic machine will be equipped with a direct-driven hydraulic system on the joystick, which can be extended to a servo-controlled version.
The steering column is adjustable and all necessary information can easily be read from a central display, the company said. While using the joystick, the operator can rest his arm on ergonomically-shaped armrest. All key functions are close to the joystick.
The articulated pendulum joint is said to give the G4500 X-TRA extreme manoeuvrability, accuracy and off-road mobility. Optionally, it is possible to equip the machines with the patented Stabilo System or boom suspension. Both options claim extra safety and comfort, because unevenness is absorbed without any compromise to the performance.
Meanwhile, new Giant skid steers have been introduced, and the company said that by applying new innovations and the availability of a large number of attachments, the new skid steer presented itself as a multifunctional all-rounder.
The frame is largely the same as earlier models, and the line-up of engines is unchanged.
Tobroco said that most of the innovations had been applied to the enclosed mechanics of the machine, such as a new valve block providing extra user-friendliness and the ability to perform tasks precisely.
The new models are equipped with a larger hydraulic pump for more power and higher yield.
Following the takeover of Terex Compact Germany in 2016, Yanmar has integrated four compact loaders into its range – the V70S, V80, V100 and V120. It is also launching the new V65 this month.
This new model claims compact dimensions – height 2,610mm; width 1,700mm with bucket; and length 4,900 mm. Yanmar said the compact dimensions contributed to the high manoeuvrability, efficiency and reliability of the machine
The V65 is equipped with articulated steering and an oscillating rear axle.
When used in a densely built-up area or construction sites with limited space, the articulated steering delivers great manoeuvrability with its 40° steering angle.
The articulated steering was also said to allow the bucket to approach the load in a straight line, even at the maximum steering angle. This affords the operator greater flexibility in terms of picking up pallets or setting down loads, said Yanmar.
Yanmar said that its wheeled loaders were economical and versatile enough to cope with a wide variety of applications, and to have new engine technology and state-of-the-art operating concept.
The newly-enhanced line of Ditch Witch mini skid steers claims construction-grade durability and versatility to conquer a variety of complex landscape and irrigation jobs, with the SK600, SK800, SK1050 and SK1550.
The company said operators could maintain hydraulic flow to the attachment with an easy-to-use auxiliary control foot pedal. The machines are said to feature improved stability and to deliver a smooth ride. All models feature an ergonomic operator platform with dual-lever ground drive controls, allowing for precise mobility.
Vermeer has expanded its compact equipment lineup with the new S925TX mini skid steer, with a tip capacity of 1,198.8kg, a rated operating capacity of 419.6kg, and maximum hinge pin height reach of 214.6cm.
The new mini skid steer features a dual auxiliary system which allows the operator to switch between high flow for ground-engaging attachments and low flow for maximum control, said the company.
Jon Kuyers, senior global products manager at Vermeer, said, “With the S925TX model, we’ve designed a machine that can deliver a higher lifting performance than most other machines in the compact utility loader segment while still maintaining a compact size and impressive hydraulic attachment wielding performance.”