Skid-steer loaders are evolving
These small machines are evolving from simple mini-loaders into multi-function ‘tool carriers’ as modern compact engines and hydraulic drive systems become evermore efficient.
Today, there are a multitude of skid-steers on building sites throughout the world. PMV managers are drawn to the usefulness of the compact machines on building sites.
Although there is a choice regarding, size power, brand, and single or double arm lift, the most fundamental decision for the plant manger to make is whether to buy wheeled or tracked model.
In certain cases, you have to go in to a tight area and the width and weight of the machine makes a difference, but that doesn’t often apply here (in the UAE) It is more about the payload and bucket capacity.
“Skid-steer loaders are a combination of workhorse and gopher at most jobsites,” says Jim Hughes, of Case CE. “In fact, they’re often the most productive and versatile machines on a jobsite. Throw in the fact a skid-steer loader is less expensive than other construction equipment and you’ve got a winning combination for many contractors.”
Hughes says he most often sees skid steers in these size classes used in material handling, digging, grading, clean up, site prep, scrap removal, truck loading and unloading. “Include an attachment such as a broom, power box rake, pallet forks, hammer or specialty bucket,” he adds, “and the applications are pretty much limitless.”
Machine selection depends on many factors, but the main concern is to define what the machine is going to be used for, and what sort of power is required.
“The application is number one, what kind of payload capacity is the primary driver” said one expert. “Also if you are going to use it for work tools, depending what kind of hydro-mechanical or hydro-electrical attachments you have, what kind of power they need, and will the machine be able to supply that?”
He added that working on tight sites can be a factor when choosing a machine. “In certain cases, you have to go in to a tight area and the width and weight of the machine makes a difference, but that doesn’t often apply here (in the UAE) It is more about the payload and bucket capacity.”
”You may want to ask about a two-speed transmission if you need to drive long distances when the machine is unloaded from a trailer,” says Gaby Rhayem, a regional manager for Bobcat. “Using two-speed transmissions allow our skid-steer loaders to travel up to 12 mph in high speed, saving contractors valuable time.”
In addition, Rhayem says, Bobcat pioneered the development of four-wheel-steer skid steers, with independently articulating wheels. “
They’re excellent machines for applications where turf damage is a concern because the skidding motion is eliminated during turns, saving damage to the ground” he explained.
More skid-steer manufacturers are now placing a greater emphasis on cab ergonomics and offering a slate of cab comfort options. If you feel increased comfort levels equate to greater productivity, you can take your pick from deluxe, fully enclosed cabs with heat and air conditioning, stereo systems, ride control, suspension seats and low-effort servo controls.