Tips to Maximize Loading Efficiency

Many variables including loader size, bucket size, lift height, truck size, jobsite layout and underfoot conditions can impact the productivity of a material loading operation.

“Improperly sizing a loader (loading tool) to a truck (hauling unit/target) can be detrimental in obtaining efficiency of a jobsite,” notes Scott Schmidtgall, product application specialist for medium wheel loaders, North America, Caterpillar. Many items must be considered to make a decision on what bucket size and loading height constraints need to be met. “Know what your current actual production targets are as well as what the future production is intended to be. Material density, production targets, peak times, realistic idle times all come to mind very quickly as areas that cause pain if they aren’t understood well.”

Define production requirements for the operation. Once that is established, then match machine size and bucket size in relation to the material being handled and the necessary discharge height. “Matching the machine and bucket with the production requirements and considering the working schedules of the operation will help put the right machine on the site,” says Nick Rogers, product specialist/inside sales coordinator, Liebherr USA, Co. Construction Equipment Division.

“Ensuring the loader is properly sized for the application and equipped with the appropriate bucket, ground-engaging tools and tires is an important first step for optimizing loading efficiency,” says Grant Van Tine, product marketing manager, wheel loaders, John Deere Construction.

“By understanding the correct pass matching between your truck and loader, you’ll get the most amount of material loaded in the shortest period of time,” says Chris Connolly, product manager, wheel loaders, Volvo Construction Equipment. “This is especially critical in high-productivity applications like a quarry or plant.”

Yet, there is more to sizing a machine than simply productivity. “The loader must be able to handle the volume of the material, both in terms of power and stability,” says Connolly. “If the machine doesn’t feel stable while lifting or traveling with a loaded bucket, it is not only dangerous, but can also shorten the service life of the machine significantly. This can also have a major impact on the confidence level of the machine operator.”

Typically, a wheel loader is sized based on the common truck size and traffic at the site. If trucks are not lined up and waiting throughout the day, you may be able to use a smaller loader.

“There are several factors that need to be considered including weight capacity of the truck, the materials that will be loaded, and their densities,” says Van Tine. “Often, there is a desired number of passes to load trucks (two to three, for example). From that, customers will choose a loader that can handle the bucket size needed for their materials and meet the loading height requirements of the trucks.

“In some applications, height is the most important factor when sizing a loader,” he adds. Some manufacturers offer high-lift models specifically to address these applications.

One often overlooked factor is the correct tire pressure for the application. “Tire pressure impacts traction, stability, fuel consumption and productivity, in addition to wear,” says Van Tine. “John Deere offers an optional tire pressure monitoring system on 644L to 844L wheel loaders that is fully integrated with JDLink telematics, enabling contractors to monitor tire pressure remotely.”

Read more: Tips to Maximize Loading Efficiency

Backhoe Loaders Make a Comeback

Backhoe loaders, once the victims of cannibalization from compact excavators and skid steers or compact track loaders—and perhaps thought to be relegated to being a niche machine for municipalities and public utilities—are making a comeback with contractors.

Reports of their marginalization are premature, according to Dennis Tovar, a 40-year sales veteran of McCann Industries, a Case Construction Equipment dealer based in Bolingbrook, Illinois. It’s safe to say that he’s seen a cycle, or 10, during his career.

“Going back the last five to 10 years, probably longer than that, loader backhoe sales really diminished because of the advent of mini and midi excavators—midi being the 18,000- to 20,000-pound category,” Tovar says. “Contractors initially would say ‘I can send a skid steer or a tracked machine out with a mini or midi on one trailer and get the work done.’

“As time has gone on, what’s happened is there was a resurgence, a realization of what a loader backhoe could do,” Tovar says. “You can drive it across town. You don’t always have to put it on a trailer. You can dig a trench, lay the pipe, backfill it with the loader bucket, and you can load out a dump truck with it, so it’s like a Swiss Army Knife. That’s how the resurgence, or rediscovery, of the loader backhoe has come.”

When sales were down, Tovar says the backhoe banner was kept flying not only by municipalities, but also by major underground, mechanical, and utility contractors. “It was people who were doing major pipeline and gas contracts, and major electrical installs along the roads, because they can run up and down the roads with pipes strewn across the loader frame,” Tovar says.

According to Tovar, Case is the only backhoe loader manufacturer that allows a user to strap down five to 8 pipes across the loader frame and travel down the road.

Benefits of backhoe loaders
For the category, there are still the classic labor and cost efficiencies. One operator and one machine, for example. And if that operator has a CDL, they can also bring the backhoe in on a trailer.

“People are rediscovering the loader backhoe for its efficiencies and utilization of what it can truly do,” Tovar says. “A lot of that has to do with all you need to do is get them to a job site area, and start four or five crews going in any different direction with them, and you’re not talking about having two machines. Just one.”

He doesn’t think the recent resurgence is going to go away; rather it will have a peak and level out a bit.

“At one point in time in this industry, people were really kind of exalting the doom and gloom of the loader backhoe, that it’s going to go away and never come back,” Tovar says. “And what the utilization is actually proving out is that it’s not going to go away. It’s not going to be the doom and gloom, and I think it’s really out of economics.”

He also says that this older machine form will benefit from new technology. [See the nearby sidebar.]

“Trust me, the loader backhoe will enjoy the development of today’s technologies; Case has introduced an all-electric one,” Tovar says. “Given California recently saying they don’t want anybody to have gasoline or diesel vehicles, if all you did was sell loader backhoes to California at some point in time in the future, then case has that market—that would drive that market in an unbelievable way.

Read more: Backhoe Loaders Make a Comeback

Volvo CE Launches Online Configuration Tool for Electric Equipment

Volvo Construction Equipment has created an online tool that allows customers to “build and price” their ideal electric compact excavator and wheel loader, marking the company’s latest advancements in both e-commerce and the introduction of electric construction equipment to the market.

Initially available in North America and Norway, the tool on the Volvo CE website lets users configure any of the electric compact machines in Volvo’s lineup with the features they want and see the suggested retail price.

“Construction equipment customers do a lot of research online already, and our configurator tool puts even more information at their fingertips,” said Jefferson Yin, director of new business models and commercial intelligence, Volvo CE.

“We’re especially happy we can give them a price estimate because that’s something other brands aren’t doing. Customers will continue to be supported by their local Volvo CE dealer during the sales process and with ongoing support after their purchase.”

Simplifying Buying Process
Since Volvo CE first opened pre-booking for its electric machines in 2020, customers have been able to reserve a machine online. Now, they also can configure their machine and instantly see the manufacturer’s suggested retail price (MSRP).

Read more: Volvo CE Launches Online Configuration Tool for Electric Equipment

Case launches new equipment line with its Minotaur dozer loader

Case Construction Equipment launched its Minotaur DL550 compact dozer loader, a new equipment category. This delivers dozing and grading performance thanks to its 114-hp engine and 18,000-lb weight.

“Business owners and fleet managers looking for a compact solution that delivers countless benefits in a single footprint will immediately see the versatility this exciting new machine brings to their fleets and will quickly understand what a ‘compact dozer loader’ is capable of accomplishing,” says Jeff Jacobsmeyer, product manager for Case. “It’s what the industry has asked for. Customer input has been a major part of the design and engineering process since the first concepts were discussed, and the result is an entirely purpose-built, intentionally designed machine proudly built here in the United States.”

The Minotaur DL550’s chassis-integrated C-frame with a six-way dozer blade hydraulically couples into both the chassis of the machine as well as the attachment coupler. This provides the stability and smooth operating plane of a small dozer while ensuring that all operating power is channeled through the whole body of the machine. The C-frame can be detached to allow the operator to use the Minotaur as a loader with a heavy-duty 1.25-cubic-yard bucket or with common loader attachments.

Also standard is Case’s Universal Machine Control, which makes the machine ready for the addition of machine control technology from Leica Geosystems, Topcon and Trimble, which are sold separately.

Case said it tested the Minotaur through more than 10,000 hours in the field.

“We’ve put this machine through hell and back — pound for pound, there’s no machine like it that delivers the dozing power and precision, as well as the dynamic loading performance,” says Jacobsmeyer.

Compact footprint
Built on a dozer-style undercarriage and pushing with more than 25,000 pounds of drawbar pull, the machine is available with three different track options:

14-inch single-grouser steel tracks
18-inch triple-grouser steel tracks
7-inch rubber tracks
The 90- or 96-inch six-way blade connected to the integrated C-frame is the same blade featured on the CASE 650M dozer and gives the operator a full range of dozer controls and movements. The machine’s electro-hydraulic controls also deliver responsiveness, with the ability to adjust blade, steering and shuttle sensitivity. Operators can also independently set the speed of the blade tilt, lift and angle.

Case said its exclusive, fully integrated rear ripper comes standard with three shanks and can be expanded to five shanks for more aggressive ripping. The rear ripper feature must be selected when ordering as it cannot be added after purchase.

“The Case Minotaur DL550 is built like a dozer with the full control and operator experience of a larger machine,” says Jacobsmeyer. “That includes the ability to deploy a full range of 2D and 3D machine control solutions that turn this machine into a compact fine grading solution that can get into areas and job sites where it’s not practical to bring in a full-sized dozer.”

Read more: Case launches new equipment line with its Minotaur dozer loader

Assessing Five Key Areas of Modern Hydraulic Power Units

Any manufacturing facility that uses hydraulics powered by conventional fixed-speed hydraulic power units (HPUs) has engineers and personnel who know all too well how large, noisy, and inefficient older HPUs can be. In the past, such features were simply an accepted part of the manufacturing environment. But now, advances in engineering and design have led to new variable-speed power units that are smaller, quieter, and more efficient, intended for use in a wide variety of applications, and can directly replace traditional hydraulic systems.

Like other types of variable-speed, electrically driven equipment, variable-speed HPUs are significantly more energy-efficient than their fixed-speed counterparts. In addition, with built-in sensors, diagnostics, and cloud capabilities, they can be easily connected to an IoT environment to deliver valuable productivity and predictive maintenance data. Altogether, these benefits make modern hydraulic power units an attractive alternative to traditional units for energy efficiency, reduced cooling requirements, lower noise levels and increased reliability.

For engineers that specify new equipment or are charged with updating or replacing older HPUs, variable-speed systems provide more efficient options to consider before choosing where to invest.

When replacing or retrofitting an HPU, manufacturing engineers are advised to consider some key metrics that differentiate modern hydraulic system design from conventional systems: size, noise, energy efficiency, connectivity, and total cost of ownership.

1. Size: The overall size of an HPU is determined largely by the size of its hydraulic fluid reservoir. For traditional HPUs, the generally accepted rule is to size the reservoir a minimum of three to five times the maximum pump flow, to allow for degassing (time enough for the oil to sit in the reservoir and air bubbles to rise to the surface). For example, to achieve a max flow of 150 L using this old rule requires an approximately 600-L reservoir, which occupies a considerable amount of space within the unit’s footprint.

Read more: Assessing Five Key Areas of Modern Hydraulic Power Units

Volvo Launches L200H High Lift Loader, Boosts Productivity

Volvo Construction Equipment (Volvo CE), which marketed its first high-lift wheel loader in 1974, has launched the L200H High Lift in North America, featuring a 27 percent increase in lifting capacity and a 13 percent larger grapple than the L180H model it replaces.

This, combined with a stronger base unit, means the L200H High Lift can handle more material per hour, the company says.

A new loading unit features a reinforced lift arm system, crossbeam, and rotator unit. This increases the machine’s maximum lifting capacity from 19,401 pounds on the L180H High Lift to 24,600 pounds. Volvo-designed grapples come in a range of shapes and sizes to suit site requirements. To accommodate this extra capacity and ensure the stability of the loader, larger 875-type low-profile L4 tires come standard.

With the ability to stack to almost 23 feet high—60 percent higher than a conventional wheel loader, according to the company—the Volvo High Lift arm design makes the most of yard storage capacity. The L200H High Lift also features 360-degree rotation and the ability to tilt. The new, stronger rotator unit is maintenance-free and features an integrated dampening system that also improves stability.

The machine allows travel over rough terrains at speed, can work comfortably on uneven ground, and exerts minimal stress on paved surfaces due to its four wide tires and articulated steering.

A new external axle oil cooling system reduces the temperature of the axles, which in turn increases their lifetime, as well as that of the brakes. It also includes an oil filter that keeps the axle oil clean for longer, the company says, increasing the oil change interval to 4,000 hours (or 18 months).

Gear shifting has been optimized to suit the new increased workloads, resulting in fast acceleration and smooth operation, Volvo says. Proven technologies such as OptiShift, which integrates the Reverse-By-Braking function and torque converter with lock-up, are meant to further support fuel efficiency.

The L200H High Lift is the first high-lift variant to be compatible with Load Assist, Volvo’s suite of apps that is accessed from the in-cab Co-Pilot display and designed to enhance productivity and profitability.

The On-Board Weighing app provides real-time insights into the grapple’s payload to help eliminate overloading, underloading, reweighing, and wait times. The Operator Coaching Advanced app helps operators use the loader to its full potential by providing real-time information and guidance.

Load Assist also includes a tire pressure monitoring system, which provides the ability to check the pressure and temperature of air-inflated and hydro-inflated tires from the cab.

The L200H High Lift comes with a choice of seats. A specially designed multifunction lever ensures precise control of the hydraulics, and operators can personalize settings from their smartphones.

To reduce operator fatigue and improve productivity, the optional Comfort Drive Control gives operators the opportunity to steer the machine using a lever instead of the steering wheel—boosting effectiveness in fast-paced truck unloading.

And because operators must be constantly aware of what’s happening around their machines, a new optional front-view camera provides additional visibility at the front of the machine and on top of the stack, with the view displayed on a dedicated in-cab monitor.

Read more: Volvo Launches L200H High Lift Loader, Boosts Productivity

John Deere Expands G-tier Wheel Loader Offerings in North America

After a successful introduction into the Canadian market in 2021, John Deere expands its G-tier wheel loader offerings to the United States with the 644 G-tier wheel loader, continuing the transition to Performance Tiering .

As part of the John Deere Performance Tiering Strategy, customers can benefit from tailored offerings that provide more performance, comfort and economical options. The expansion of this line up also includes the new 544 G-tier wheel loader now available in Canada.

The 544 G-tier provides customers working in a variety of applications with a no-frills, versatile, and reliable solution backed by John Deere and its dealer network.

“Not every customer is looking for the most technology in a machine. By introducing the 544 G-tier in Canada and expanding the availability of the 644 G-tier into the United States, we are providing our customers with options to help meet their diverse needs,” said Luke Gribble, solutions marketing manager, John Deere.

“The G-tier models support customers looking for reliability, without the added extras that they would find in a P-tier or X-tier machine, and that fit their investment levels as well. With the G-tier models, customers are getting the versatility and ruggedness in a machine, without any compromises.”

Now available in the United States, the 644 G-tier leverages industry-proven components and is equipped with a cab design that promotes ease of operation. With the 644 G-tier machines, John Deere delivers a solution ideal for customers in the governmental, rental, site development and asphalt industries, according to the manufacturer.

The 644 G-tier Wheel Loaders boast a reliable John Deere 6.8L engine and feature John Deere Teammate axles. Customers can customize the machine through a variety of base-level packages, including options related to locking differentials, ride control, seats, radio and rear chassis work-lights.

Making its debut in the Canadian market, the 544 G-tier is designed to provide a more economical solution in the 3-yard loader size class that does not sacrifice the performance and quality customers expect from a John Deere machine. The 544 G-tier controls were designed with operators of all skillsets and productivity in mind, offering a simplified setup and overall functionality.

Promoting ease of operation, the in-cab controls include adjustable boom-height kickout, return to carry and return to dig, which can be easily activated from inside the cab, speeding production times during repetitive applications. In addition, the 544 G-tier is an ideal machine for those looking for a capable machine for rental, agriculture, governmental and snow removal applications.

Further expanding machine capability, the 544 G-tier can be equipped with optional features to help tackle even the most challenging applications. Optional features include a hydraulic reversing fan, axle coolers and front locking differentials, helping to keep it at peak performance.

Backed by the network of John Deere dealers, the 544 G-tier machines are easy to service, helping to keep the job site running smoothly, the manufacturer said.

The optional third and fourth function hydraulics allow additional attachments to be equipped on the machine, amplifying job versatility. On the 544 G-tier, John Deere customers can choose between pin-on bucket options as well as a Hi-Vis/ISO or JRB style couplers, which are compatible with K -Series, L-series and Performance Tiering buckets and attachments. Customers needing extra reach on the job can add high-lift linkage to gain an additional 14 in. of hinge-pin height over standard linkage.

Read more: John Deere Expands G-tier Wheel Loader Offerings in North America


Bobcat has added two new rotary cutters and three redesigned mulchers to its lineup of land-clearing attachments.

The newly redesigned line of drum mulcher attachments are built with a high-strength, steel-body construction for increased durability. There are three models available in 50-, 61-, and 72-inch cutting widths, and they’re compatible for use with Bobcat’s 700 and 800 Series compact track and skid-steer loaders.

“We have taken our line of loader forestry cutters and completely redesigned them to meet the demands of the growing land management industry,” says Travis Kidder, a senior product specialist at Bobcat. “Along with overall increased durability and uptime, we improved the hydraulic system to operate more efficiently, meaning cooler operating temperatures and improved performance.”

Each loader drum mulcher has heavy-duty carbide teeth that can rip through hard and soft wood up to 8 inches in diameter. When mulching through heavy growth, rear debris chains obstruct debris being thrown toward the back of the attachment.

The reinforced push bar and optional low-profile front gate provide better visibility to the drum and cutting teeth. Redesigned hydraulic block and drive components, and replaceable bolt-on skid shoes have been included for increased convenience and uptime.

The two-speed hydraulic motors provide increased drum torque and quicker speed recovery. Drum breaks can bring the drum rotation to a stop within 20 seconds of deactivating auxiliary hydraulics. The hose clamps and sling protect hydraulic hoses from kinking, contact wear, and entanglement.

A hydraulic pressure gauge on the 50- and 61-inch models helps operators monitor the drum speeds. Also available on those models are optional depth control rings to limit engagement of the cutting teeth for more consistent mulch.

All loader drum mulchers must have the forestry applications kit installed on their loader in order to operate. This includes protection like poly-carbonate windows and door, Level 2 FOPS, fire extinguisher, and several more pieces that help prepare the machine for the harsh conditions seen in forestry mulching.


How to Control Contamination From Hydraulic Hoses

The need for hose replacement is a fairly common occurrence on hydraulic machines. Hydraulic hose fabrication is a big business with plenty of competition and more than a few cowboys running around. So if you own or are responsible for hydraulic equipment, where you source replacement hoses from, and how they’re made, cleaned and stored – prior to installation on your machine, warrants your attention.

The hose fabrication process – or more specifically, the hose cutting process – introduces contamination in the form of metal particles from the hose’s wire reinforcement and the cutting blade itself, and polymer dust from the hose’s outer cover and inner tube.

The amount of contamination which enters the hose during cutting can be reduced by employing techniques such as using a wet cutting blade instead of a dry one, blowing clean air through the hose as it is being cut and/or using a vacuum extraction device. The latter two aren’t very practical when cutting long lengths of hose from a roll or in a mobile hose-van situation.

Therefore, the main focus must be on effectively removing this cutting residue – and any other contamination which might be present in the hose – prior to installation. The most efficient and, therefore, most popular way of doing this is by blowing a foam cleaning projectile through the hose using a special attachment connected to compressed air. If you are not familiar with this equipment, do a search on Google for “hydraulic hose projectile”.

The manufacturers of these cleaning systems claim that hose cleanliness levels as good as ISO 4406 13/10 are achievable. But like most everything else, the results achieved depend on a number of variables, which include using a projectile of the correct diameter for the hose being cleaned, whether the projectile is used dry or wetted with solvent, and the number of shots fired. Generally, the higher the number of shots, the cleaner the hose assembly. Furthermore, if it is a new hose that’s being cleaned, the projectile cleaning should be done before the ends are crimped on.

Read more: How to Control Contamination From Hydraulic Hoses

Tips on Selecting and Replacing Hydraulic Hose Assemblies

Hoses and couplings are critical parts of every hydraulic system. They transfer hydraulic fluid from the pump to machine components such as valves, motors, and actuators which use the fluid pressure and flow to create the machine motion and force needed to do work. The importance of selecting or replacing hydraulic hoses and couplings often gets overlooked…until something goes wrong.

Engineers must consider several factors before choosing hydraulic hose assemblie

Hose and Coupling Basics
Most hoses have three functional layers—the tube, reinforcements, and the cover—assembled in a flexible “laminate design” or “composite structure.” Being flexible lets the hose move, flex, easily route through bulkheads, dampen pressures surges, and withstand vibration (as compared to rigid pipe or tubing).

Hoses are built and tested according to industry specifications such as SAE and EN. Engineers should be familiar with specifications related to equipment the hoses they design will go on. They provide guidelines for dimensions, material properties, and minimum performance characteristics for major types of hose and couplings.

The tube conveys the fluid and is commonly made of rubber compounds and plastic. It’s critical that the tube resist fluids it carries and is exposed to; permeation by chemicals; and both high and low temperatures.

Reinforcements include natural and synthetic fibers, wires and cables, and monofilament. They help hoses withstand internal and external pressures.

Covers, which are commonly made of rubber, plastics, and textiles, protect reinforcements from the environment. They resist abrasion, chemicals, weathering, and ozone.

Read more: Tips on Selecting and Replacing Hydraulic Hose Assemblies


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