Utility Contractor

SEP-OCT 2018

As the official magazine of NUCA, Utility Contractor presents the latest information affecting every aspect of the utility construction industry, including technological advancements, safety issues, legislative developments and instructional advice.

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24 Utility Contractor | September/October 2018 5 Advantages of Small to Midsize Wheel Loaders By Allison Grettenberg M any equipment owners associate wheel loaders with being durable, versatile machines because they can withstand long hours of use, transport heavy payloads and operate multiple attachments. As some equipment manufacturers expand their product lineup with smaller wheel loaders, many owners are realizing that smaller wheel loaders can work just as hard as their larger counterparts. Small to midsize wheel loaders provide the best of both worlds — strong, capable machines in a smaller package. The machines complete load and carry applications without sacrificing maneuverability, have the ability to quickly change attachments and can be easily transported. In addition, some manufacturers now offer hydrostatic transmission-type wheel loaders versus a conventional torque converter transmission, which can deliver more performance at lower engine speeds. By considering five features of smaller wheel loaders and purchasing the smaller models, owners may improve their productivity. For example, they can match their machines with different attachments for better performance and productivity when working in infrastructure, and commercial and residential building situations. 1. Productive in load and carry applications When it comes to working at busy and confined jobsites, many equipment owners need a smaller wheel loader with good lifting capacities, fast cycle times and a short turning radius. Wheel loaders in the 140- to 170-hp size class are ideal for construction and infrastructure markets year-round. An important consideration is choosing a bucket. When selecting a bucket, smaller wheel loaders should be paired with the right size — preferably a 2.6- to 3.7-cubic-yard bucket — to move material and complete more precision-type projects. Time is always a premium, so the faster operators can load and dump material, the better their productivity. In addition, the faster the machine can travel, the quicker the cycle times can be. Other important features of smaller wheel loaders include traction aid devices, such as limited-slip differentials and hydraulic locking differentials, which help deliver superior traction when digging, grading or loading trucks. Traction control modes are available with some models to control wheel slippage for more efficient operation in digging, stockpiling and loading applications. Some small wheel loaders may be equipped with multiple traction control modes, such as max, traction and S-mode. • Max: Provides maximum traction force when working in digging and stockpiling applications. • Traction control: Displays three levels of reduced traction forces — 90, 80 and 70 percent torque — to match the jobsite conditions. • S-mode: Helps when operating on slippery roadway conditions. The traction control mode works well in semi-slippery applications, helping wheels maintain better ground contact. S-mode also provides operators with 50 percent torque at the wheels to easily maneuver in wet, slippery applications. Both modes help decrease tire wear and increase productivity, and can lead to improved fuel efficiency. When working in residential and commercial building jobsites, traction, tread wear and distance are important factors. Owners commonly equip smaller wheel loaders with bias tires, rather than radial tires, because they have thicker sidewalls, giving the machine a stable and smooth ride. The bias tires perform well because they are more repairable and the distances traveled are typically shorter. In common wheel loader applications, an L2 or L3 tread design is recommended for maximum traction, cleaning ability and rock resistance. 2. More versatility when fitted with quick couplers Small wheel loaders are valuable fleet assets for a number of reasons, but the most prominent reason is their ability to be fitted with loader-specific attachments, including pallet forks, buckets and snow pushers. Pallet forks and buckets can easily be interchanged with the use of quick couplers — an optional feature on most manufacturers' machines. Additionally, some coupler systems have been designed to eliminate greasing, requiring less maintenance and fewer replacement parts. Some equipment owners may choose a tool carrier iteration with a parallel-lift linkage versus a standard Z-bar configuration. The parallel-lift style provides operators with excellent visibility to the attachment, especially when switching between attachments.

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