Experts’ Tips: Skid-steer loaders

February 20, 2019 -  By
0 Comments

ASV

Buck Storlie, ASV

Buck Storlie, ASV

Buck Storlie, product line manager
One of the easiest ways to preserve a low cost of ownership with a skid-steer is to do what you can to limit tire wear. Use three-point turns and avoid spinning out the tires. Both tips are especially important in severe ground conditions. Practice safe loading procedures. This includes not ramming the bucket into a pile of material quickly. Loading more slowly helps reduce the sudden load on the machine and reduces the risk of operator injury from hitting an unknown object below the pile. Also, keep the bucket only as high as required to clear ground obstacles. Failing to do so is one of the main reasons for most tipping accidents. Finally, read your skid-steer’s manual for details about your machine.

Case Construction Equipment

Perry Girard, Case

Perry Girard, Case

Perry Girard, product manager
The skid-steer is the No. 1 tool carrier in North America, but the attachments that you add have the opportunity to allow you to take on more billable work. This eliminates the need to purchase additional/separate machines and reduces your dependency on hiring other contractors. The understanding of attachments as a force multiplier and a billing multiplier for a core piece of machinery, such as a skid-steer, grows each day. The mentality of “we’ll hire that out to another contractor” can be replaced with “we can do it ourselves and make a business case for it.” The total cost of ownership is directly related to machine utilization. Higher utilization will directly drive your profits and provide you a competitive edge. Pairing it with the right suite of attachments will result in greater profits and getting more out of that core asset over its lifetime. Entrepreneurial contractors understand this.

Caterpillar

Kevin Coleman, Caterpillar

Kevin Coleman, Caterpillar

Kevin Coleman, product manager
Providing the operator with comfortable equipment that he/she enjoys running increases the likelihood of a long-term relationship with a company. An enclosed cab design that is sealed and pressurized keeps the operator environment clean and quiet. Adjustable joystick control positions provide a wide range of comfortable operating positions for maximum comfort and control. Having excellent visibility is key when operating a skid-steer, and an operator should be able to see the tires, attachment and all around the job site. A rearview camera can help with hard-to-see areas behind a machine.

Ditch Witch

Chris Thompson, Ditch Witch

Chris Thompson, Ditch Witch

Chris Thompson, product manager
When operating properly, mini skid-steers increase productivity on a wide variety of landscape job sites. To optimize machine performance, operators should practice regular maintenance on the machine and its attachments. Keeping attachments in working order and practicing regular maintenance should help further extend machine productivity and longevity. Each attachment should have its own maintenance routine detailed in the operator’s manual. The most common attachments and their recommended maintenance include:

  • Pallet forks: Inspect forks before each use for damage or wear that requires immediate attention.
  • Plows: Inspect for loose hoses or fittings and check the blade for wear or cracks.
  • Tillers: Lubricate the bearings and inspect tines for damage.
  • Trenchers: Check for worn teeth and proper chain tension to reduce the amount of binding.

JCB

Chris Trampush, JCB

Chris Trampush, JCB

Chris Trampush, product manager
When choosing and using a skid-steer loader, landscape professionals should consider the machine’s rated operating capacity and hydraulic flow capabilities. These two attributes directly impact the ability of the machine to lift heavier loads and operate a wider range of power-hungry attachments, such as mulchers, mowers and cutters, which are common for land clearing or site preparation. Landscapers also have a choice between radial lift machines, which provide a more “connected feel” to the attachment, and vertical lift machines, which provide a bit more forward reach for loading/unloading material on trucks or trailers. Pay careful attention to the manufacturer’s warranty and the dealer-provided after-sales support and service when choosing a new machine. These factors will have a significant impact on productivity.

John Deere Construction & Forestry

Gregg Zupancic, John Deere

Gregg Zupancic, John Deere

Gregg Zupancic, product marketing manager
Landscapers are up against various tasks that require the proper machinery to get the job done. Whether hoisting pallets, moving sod or clearing brush, using a versatile skid-steer with a durable attachment can help optimize performance and productivity. Landscapers can maximize use of skid-steers on-site by understanding each application’s unique needs and terrain. Whether working on vast land or clearing through narrow crevices, skid-steers that offer a compact design and smooth handling controls can improve a landscaper’s time and efficiency even in challenging terrains. Having a skid-steer that is fuel-efficient can also maximize productivity.

Takeuchi

Lee Padgett, Takeuchi

Lee Padgett, Takeuchi

Lee Padgett, product manager
There are several key items for landscape professionals to consider when purchasing a skid-steer loader. In particular, it’s important to purchase the right machine for their application. There are generally three different frame sizes offered: small, medium and large. Large frame loaders provide the additional power and flow needed to perform in applications that require greater lift capacity; the ability to run high-flow attachments, such as milling heads; and the ability to move larger volumes of material. It’s also important to understand the difference between vertical and radial lift loader arrangements. This will further help match the machine to the job. Operators who do more grading and dirt work tend to prefer the radial lift design because it generally has greater bucket breakout and lift arm forces. Radial lift loaders also have excellent midheight reach due to their lift path.

Vermeer

Brett Newendorp, Vermeer

Brett Newendorp, Vermeer

Brett Newendorp, landscape market manager
Loaders come in all shapes and sizes, but more landscape contractors are choosing mini skid-steers as an alternative to larger models to help perform work once done by hand. Fitting into tighter areas, backyards and through narrow gates are some of the mini skid-steer’s biggest benefits. These compact machines also offer several additional advantages over full-size loaders. The overall weight puts less stress on the towing vehicle, does not require a driver to have a CDL and produces less ground disturbance. Attachment options include buckets and blades for dirt work and site prep. Grapples can be used to handle logs and brush and to help feed a brush chipper. Powered rakes and tillers can prepare areas for seeding or beds for planting. Auger drives and bits can be used to install fence posts or dig holes for trees. Trencher and plow attachments work well for irrigation or utility installation work.

Post a Comment