JCB launches US-designed loaders

By Lindsey Anderson10 November 2010

JCB has launched a new line of skid steer and compact tracked loaders for sale world-wide, which have been solely designed, engineered and manufactured in North America - a first for the UK-headquartered company.

Seven new machines - all with vertical lift paths - have started to roll off the manufacturing line at the company's factory in Savannah, Georgia, US. The range comprises the 260, 280, 300 and 330 wheeled skid steers and the 260T, 300T and 320T compact tracked loaders all of which have rated capacities of 2600 lbs (1044 kg) or more. These combine with JCB's existing models to give the company a range of wheeled and tracked machines with both radial and vertical lift paths covering the 1300 to 3500 lbs (590 to 1590 kg) capacity classes.

According to JCB's research, 95% of skid steers working worldwide today were made in the US, and 60% of the global skid steer market is in North America. Indeed, in unit terms, skid steer loaders account for 45% of the construction equipment sold in the US a US$ 2.6 billion annual market.

"Savannah will be the skid steer capital of the world," said JCB sales support manager Larry Ashley. He added that the company had concentrated on cost efficiency, safety, productivity, serviceability and fuel efficiency for its new loaders, a range that will total 18 models by the end of next year.

JCB stressed operator safety with its unique side-door entry. Having a single boom (composed of +20% more steel than JCB's two-armed competitors, according to John Patterson, CEO of JCB Inc. and the global company's deputy chairman) allows operators to enter and exit the machine clear of the loader arm and various attachments - making safety a priority. JCB also claims its design has +61% more visibility than competitive skid steers.

Each machine has seen parts reduced by -38%, -35% less grease points than competitors' models, manufacturing time dropped -35% and some US$ 3000 in annual fuel savings. JCB said this prices the machine at -5% less than its competition, but would not reveal specific numbers.

New features include a tilting cab with increased service access, O-ring face seals for all hydraulic connections, a larger entry door and larger cab, a redesigned control panel and a range of 30 attachment families that bring a total number of attachments to more than 100.

According to Mr Patterson, JCB expects to manufacture 2000 of the machines in 2011 and eventually ramp up production to 5000 to 6000 units a year, with a third - about 2000 units at peak production - going to Volvo under the manufacturing agreement the two companies' signed at the start of 2010. There will be no differentiation between the JCB and Volvo machines other than logos and company colours.

With JCB's telehandler production now back in the UK, 50% of the Savannah facility is now geared solely to compact loader production, with some of it also allotted to JCB's US Army- exclusive High Mobility Engineered Excavator (HMEE) - a high speed backhoe designed for use in Iraq and Afghanistan. As skid steer demand grows, JCB says the proportion of the factory used for skid steers will grow to 70%.

The first 20 machines will be delivered in November to Chicago-based Building Maintenance Systems, Inc.

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