Experts’ Tips: Selecting the right attachments for skid-steers

September 4, 2019 -  By
Skid-steer (Photo: Bobcat)

Quick change Skid-steer attachments make machines more versatile and help mitigate the labor problem. (Photo: Bobcat)

Choosing the right equipment and attachments gives contractors better efficiency and versatility on the job.

James Jones, operations manager at the Phoenix branch of Gothic Landscape, says using skid-steer attachments helps save labor.

“We are in such a labor crisis that if we can add more equipment, maybe instead of having eight crew members, we could have five,” Jones says. “That’s the whole point of attachments and skid-steers. It saves a boatload of labor.”

Out of 60 crews at the Phoenix branch, Jones says nearly half have a truck equipped with a skid-steer and three attachments: a trencher, a bucket and forks. This setup gives each job site the capability of four pieces of equipment. “It only takes 30 seconds to switch out the attachment for a different application,” Jones says.

The Gothic fleet has a variety of Caterpillar, Bobcat and Kubota skid-steers. The attachments, Jones says, are universal and interchangeable.

Reid Altavilla, corporate fleet manager for Ruppert Landscape, based in Laytonsville, Md., says skid-steers and their attachments offer a lot of versatility on a job site. “Their adaptability can make jobs go more quickly, freeing up time and manpower to perform other tasks,” he says.

Ensuring versatility starts with choosing the right attachments for the job. “Ruppert selects specific attachments for skid-steer loaders based on job scope and efficiencies,” he says.

Altavilla says crews at Ruppert mainly use attachments such as forks, toothed buckets, hydraulic augers and, occasionally, mounted rotary cutters.

Five experts from different skid-steer manufacturers share some advice for selecting the right attachments at your company.

Buck Storlie (Photo: ASV)

Buck Storlie

ASV

Buck Storlie
Product line manager

Selecting the right attachment is key to maximizing skid-steer value and versatility. Always ensure the attachments you are considering match the specs and capacity of your machine. Having attachments capable of accepting the machine’s full flow and potential will ensure maximum performance and longevity. Many times, an attachment can replace hand labor or even another piece of equipment. Take a look at your jobs and the tools you are using to complete them, and you’ll likely find there’s an attachment designed for the work. The wide array of attachments now available for compact track loaders and skid-steer loaders makes them one of the most versatile tools available.

George MacIntyre (Photo: Case Construction Equipment)

George MacIntyre

Case Construction Equipment

George MacIntyre
Product manager – compact and service equipment

Any attachment for a skid-steer should be something that expands the utilization of the machine to increase the services you offer. Attachments ultimately lower the lifetime owning and operating costs by increasing its profitability. While there are also practical considerations related to the machine’s auxiliary hydraulics and the size/weight of an attachment that each machine can handle, attachments should align with your business growth plan and serve to add more services to your business without having to buy additional machines.

Gregg Zupancic (Photo: John Deere)

Gregg Zupancic

John Deere Construction & Forestry

Gregg Zupancic
Product marketing manager, skid-steers & compact track loaders

Skid-steers can be versatile machines with the right education and applications. Contractors can utilize various attachments on their skid-steers to complete different tasks on-site. To select the right attachment for your skid-steer, it’s important to understand what type of job the attachment will be used for, as well as the environment and terrain. Attachments can perform a number of tasks and have weight and performance limits. Understanding the needs of the job site will ease the selection process. It’s important to be aware of the hydraulic power that skid-steers offer and take the time to learn which attachment and machine capabilities are required to complete the task at hand. Knowing the attachment’s specifications and limits will help contractors make the most of their selected attachment.

Jason Boerger (Photo: Bobcat)

Jason Boerger

Bobcat

Jason Boerger
Marketing manager

Contractors need to have a good idea of how often they will operate an attachment. Utilization is critical to determine if selecting an attachment makes sense. Contractors also need to consider the jobs they will be working on. This will help them make a more informed decision about whether their machine’s engine horsepower and hydraulic flow will be sufficient to power the attachment. Be sure to assess the value of high-flow auxiliary hydraulics for skid-steer loaders and attachments that can benefit from an extra power boost. If an attachment is expected to make up a significant portion of a contractor’s operational time, it increases productivity and overall return to use machines and attachments with high-flow hydraulics capabilities.

Brett Newendorp, Vermeer

Brett Newendorp

Vermeer

Brett Newendorp
Landscape market manager

Many contractors choose more compact machines because they can reduce the amount of manual, labor-intensive work, and attachments serve a major role in making that happen. To go about adding attachments that will compliment a contractor’s line of work, he or she needs to think about repetitive and labor-intensive tasks that could be done more efficiently with a skid-steer. For example, investing in a set of pallet forks and a grapple can make moving heavy landscaping material less labor intensive than doing it by hand. Also, using specific attachments in each season can enhance versatility; a powered landscape rake for spring ground prep work, a brush mower for the summer growing season and a snow-blower or blade attachment for winter snow removal.

Read more: Experts’ Tips: Skid-steer loaders

Danielle Pesta

About the Author:

Danielle Pesta is the associate editor of Landscape Management. She started writing for the green industry in 2014 and has won multiple awards from the Turf & Ornamental Communicators Association (TOCA). She can be reached at dpesta@northcoastmedia.net.

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