Equipment Specs

Compact Wheel Loader

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Construction Equipment
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1995 Kramer 320 Wheel Loader
Compact wheel loaders are a subclass of wheel loaders that typically have a horsepower of 100 or less. In the last several years, compact wheel loaders have experienced a rapid resurgence in the North American market as is evident in the number of new suppliers manufacturing compact wheel loaders and a steady rise in sales that doesn't appear to be slowing down. They can also be referred to as integrated tool carriers as they come with a set of alternative attachments that broaden their tasking capabilities.


[edit] History

Compact wheel loaders have been around since about the 1970s, but their popularity on construction sites in North America has only come to the forefront in recent years. Smaller manufacturers such as Waldon, Swinger, TCM and Power Trac have dominated the compact wheel loader market in North America.[1] Some manufacturers with a reputable history in wheel loader development and manufacturing such as International Harvester have been building smaller wheel loaders since the mid-1960s.[2] It was not until recently, however, that other big name manufacturers, such as Caterpillar and Volvo, decided to enter the compact wheel loader market. Now a number of manufacturers are producing compact wheel loaders.

Part of the reason behind this is that there existed more of an interest in the U.S. and Canada in developing skid steer loaders since the ability and tasking of the two machines was viewed as somewhat comparable. Large-sized wheel loaders have also overshadowed their smaller counterparts as they have been more widely utilized in the industry.

On the contrary, in Europe, particularly in Germany, the compact wheel loader has always been extremely popular and practically visible on every construction site.[3]

2006 Atlas AR35 Compact Wheel Loader

[edit] Market

Compact wheel loaders have a broad market appeal due in part to their small size but still ample lift capacity and maneuverability. Accordingly, they are fast-becoming the "new catch-all machines for contractors who want it all from one unit."[4] In 2004, the compact wheel loader market grew by as much as 25 percent.[5]

Wheel loaders are widely used by contractors working in landscaping, demolition and recycling, road construction, and residential and commercial construction. Another growing segment utilizing compact wheel loaders is agricultural/ farming.[6]

The market for these mini-machines is also driven by a strong rental industry. Wheel loaders are cost affordable to rent and relatively easy to transport and operate.

[edit] Compact Wheel Loaders vs. Skid Steer Loaders

Compact wheel loaders and skid steer loaders are very similar in terms of applications. They both can accomplish the same types of jobs and be purchased with a range of attachments that make them equally multi-purpose units. However, compact wheel loaders have established a reputation in the industry for having one up on skid steers in terms of comfort and safety. The machines on the whole offer a greater range of visibility, larger cab space, and better durability when it comes to tire wear and traction, especially on more sensitive surfaces. Skid steer loader tires, on the contrary, tend to wear out more quickly on hard surfaces.[7] Compact wheel loaders also have a greater lift capacity than skid steer loaders. The skid steer loader also has a shorter wheelbase that can cause it to be less stable when handling heavier loads. The compact loader's taller height, however, makes it more likely to be unstable on side slopes than skid steers. Another obvious disadvantage of compact wheel loaders is their higher purchase cost, but this is usually outweighed by the machine's versatility.

[edit] Features/How it Works

The majority of compact wheel loaders available on the market are built with an articulated frame that allows the machine to bend as it turns. Some manufacturers such as Gehl have developed all-wheel steer compact wheel loaders on a rigid frame design in conjunction with two steerable axles. This enables the machine to maintain the same lift capacity whether in a straight or turning position, as lift capacity can be compromised when turning.[8]

2004 Yanmar V4 4x4 Compact Wheel Loader
Deere also offers a unique system called Stereo Steering. The system features both an articulated frame and rear-wheel steering giving the machine a tighter turn radius with the capacity to still carry a heavier load.[9]

Almost all compact wheel loaders now feature hydrostatic drive systems. These systems usually include a single-high pressure pump or a variable displacement hydraulic pump and a single hydraulic motor. The hydraulic motor drives through a mechanical gearbox to conventional planetary axles.[10] Compact wheel loaders can usually travel up to speeds of about 25 miles (40 km) per hour.

The machines also incorporate hydraulic systems and boom-mounted couplers that allow the loaders to be fixed with a range of different attachments including everything from heavy-duty buckets, light material buckets, side dump buckets, grapples and grapple buckets, pallet forks, snow plows, tree planters and work platforms.[11] Other attachments include brooms, augers and ground-conditioning attachments.[12]

Other important features are ride control, loader linkage which is typically a Z-bar or parallel lift, and hitches, which give the loader the capability to transport other equipment to worksites.

[edit] Other Specs

Some of the other important specifications of compact wheel loaders to consider are:

  • Overall size and weight of machine
  • Turning radius
  • Dump and pin heights
  • Lift capacity in straight position/ full-turn position

[edit] Common Manufacturers

[edit] References

  1. Small Wheel Loaders. Machinery Junction. 2008-09-28.
  2. Compact Wheel Loaders. BNet.2008-09-28.
  3. Compact Wheel Loaders. BNet. 208-09-28.
  4. What's in a Small Wheel Loader. Compact Equipment. 2008-09-28.
  5. What's in a Small Wheel Loader. Compact Equipment. 2008-09-28.
  6. What's in a Small Wheel Loader. Compact Equipment. 2008-09-28.
  7. What's in a Small Wheel Loader. Compact Equipment. 2008-09-28.
  8. Compact Wheel Loaders. Equipment World Magazine. 2008-09-28.
  9. Packing a Punch. Stormcon. 2008-09-28.
  10. Packing a Punch. Packing a Punch. 2008-09-28.
  11. What's in a Small Wheel Loader. Compact Equipment. 2008-09-28.
  12. Small Wheel Loaders. Machinery Junction. 2008-09-28.