Friends fit together. For the backhoe loader, attachments are working companionsand the whole concept of strengthening versatility has helped the machines position in the marketplace.
"The thing that is propelling the rapid growth of the skid steer is the attachments," Nelson Ilgen, backhoe product manager at New Holland Construction, told ROADS & BRIDGES. "The backhoes, to keep pace with the rest of the construction industry, need to expand the tool carrier attachments so you can do more than one function on the front and one function on the back."
Other industry innovations have taken a fork to the backhoes piece of the pie. Mini-excavators are a prime example. Affordable options are making their appearance, which may help explain why a steady market took a slight dip last year.
"The industry had been clicking right around 33,000 units total market," said Ilgen. "The backhoe has stayed pretty consistent without having a lot of growth. Now, however, there are other choices to go with."
Companies like New Holland, Carol Stream, Ill., are attempting to broaden the appeal of the backhoe. The manufacturer is offering an auxiliary hand tool circuit as an option on some machines.
"It allows you to plug in virtually any kind of hydraulic tool, a jackhammer, chain saw, a tamper, a trash pump," said Ilgen.
Hydraulic improvements also are receiving some attention. When digging a hole with a more traditional backhoe, the operator needs to bring the bucket in, scoop up the dirt, lift the load out of the hole, swing away from the hole and reverse action to dump. Hydraulic upgrades would allow for simultaneous movements.
As far as any future swing of the market goes, Ilgen believes the rental industry is creating a "little bit of spike."
"The rental market probably is going to help the backhoe industry grow a little bit as they open up a lot of new locations," he said. "About five or six key rental companies are growing like wildfire, so thats going to create some opportunities."
Wild about changes
Case Corp., Racine, Wis., has made more than 35 feature improvements to its new L Series 2 loader/backhoes. The six modelsthe 580L, 580L turbo, 580 Super L, 590 Super L, 570L XT and 570L XT turborange from 73 to 99 hp and have loader lift capacities ranging from 5,293 to 7,327 lb.
Engines now come with in-line fuel injection pumps for improved starting and lower ownership cost because the fuel pumps are rebuildable. The motors on the 580 Super L and 590 Super L are additionally equipped with a "viscious fan drive for increased power and performance," according to Case.
The transmission also has been the beneficiary of some tinkering. A new powershift transmission is optional on 4-wheel drive Super Ls. This feature is claimed to provide smoother shifting, which results in faster cycling for increased productivity. Also contributing to faster cycle times is the auto downshift button. As the operator pushes into the pile, a touch of the button shifts the transmission from second to first gear and returns the transmission back to second gear when reversing out of the pile.
Larger diameter loader bucket cylinders and backhoe bucket cylinders are standard on the 590 Super L, and were designed to increase loader breakout force.
Additional features are an increase in backhoe bucket rotation to nearly 200û for single-bucket position when straight-wall trenching or truck loading, and an optional bolt-on toolbox.
A high C
Caterpillar, Peoria, Ill., is another company that has pulled its grade up in the backhoe/loader class.
Increased lift capacity and the introduction of the Power Shift option lead the list of enhancements to the C-Series backhoe loaders.
A larger boom cylinder increases lift capacity by as much as 20%, depending on the backhoe loader model and position in the lift envelope. The 416C now has a 4.75-in. bore, while the 426C and 436C have a 5.38-in. bore. A heavy-duty boom structure handles "greater lift and dig forces," according to Cat.
The backhoe quick coupler provides an additional 12û of rotation for improved vertical wall digging, and the clamping distance is improved by 1 to 3 in. for the ability to close the bucket for loading materials like concrete or asphalt slabs. The additional rotation also eliminates the need to switch pin locations.
All C-Series backhoe loaders come with the Caterpillar Ride Control System, which incorporates a nitrogen accumulater in the loader lift circuit for a "smooth ride in all applications."
The 426C has been increased to 85 net hp, the 436C has jumped to 93 hp and all Cat backhoe loaders are turbocharged.
Changes to the variable displacement pump in the load-sensing hydraulic system include a dual setting torque limiter. The pump torque limiter control improves power distribution to the hydraulic system during backhoe operations and manages power balance between the loader hydraulic circuit and drivetrain during front loader operations.
Fast, easy change
A flick of the switch. Thats the whole idea behind the powershift transmission option available on 310SE and 410E backhoe loaders from John Deere, Moline, Ill.
The manufacturer claims the added feature "increases productivity by allowing operators to change gears quicker and change direction effortlessly."
One of the keys to the powershift transmission is the Twist Grip, which allows for the fast change in gears with a "twist of the wrist."
Forward speeds range from 3.6 to 24.4 mph and reverse speeds range from 4.0 to 16.1 mph. A transmission disconnect switch diverts full engine power to the hydraulics for faster loading.
Extra depth helical gears, extra short shafts and a new transmission housing design have created quieter shifting.
Power Curve backhoe booms, available on all E-Series models, deliver a better digging profile, more lift and use excavator-style backhoe buckets for easier digging and reaching around buried pipes, according to the manufacturer.
At the starting line
Willing to do just about any job is the 214e Series 4, an entry-level, 14-ft class backhoe loader from JCB Inc., White Marsh, Md.
The machine, armed with a 72 net hp Perkins engine, has been developed with improved backhoe geometry for more lift capacity, a shorter mainframe for tight turning circles (26 ft, 5 in. with a 4-wheel drive unit), an enhanced power-to-weight ratio and a simplified loader arm and leveling system for enhanced visibility.
JCBs 214S, 215S and 217S backhoe tool carriers feature 4x4x4 performance (4-wheel drive, 4-wheel steer, 4 equal-sized tires). They also utilize a tool carrier coupler which comes with a two-position loader linkage to maximize bucket or pallet fork performance.
Larger diameter loader arm pipework and a detent for the third valve spool provide an improved system for powering continuous-flow attachments like sweepers.
The companys Extradig backhoe with heavy-lift capabilities provides an extra 4 ft of dig depth. Maximum backhoe dig depths are 18 ft, 6 in. for the 214S, 20 ft, 1 in. for the 215S and 21 ft, 6 in. for the 217S. All come with a 92 net hp turbo engine.
The 4x4x4 214Se Series 4, with an 86 net-hp diesel turbo engine and SynchroShuttle transmission, also has been developed to meet the needs of the 14-ft class, entry-level operator.
Using the Mind
Engineers at Komatsu, Vernon Hills, Ill., put their heads together and came up with the HydrauMind system, which is now an intregal part of two new backhoe loaders: the WB140-2 and the WB150-2.
The HydrauMind system consists of a single variable flow hydraulic pump and an "intelligent" hydraulic circuit that allows the machine to react almost instantly to a specific operator control.
The two models also are equipped with closed center Load Sensing System, Load Independent Flow Dividers, two working modes and heavy-duty axles.
The WB140-2 is 16,000 lb and 86 hp, with a maximum digging depth of 14 ft, 6 in., while the WB150-2 is 17,394 lb and 98 hp, with a maximum dig depth of 15 ft, 6 in.
Showing little effort appears to be the aim for Kubota, Torrance, Calif. The L35 compact diesel tractor, with its performance-matched loader and backhoe, has a new generation 8-speed Glide Shift Transmission which features clutchless shift-on-the-go in forward or reverse.
Maneuverability is enhanced by an enclosed hydrostatic power steering system, and a hermetically sealed bevel-geared 4-wheel drive system allows turns up to 55û.
Powered by a 35-hp E-TVCS diesel engine, the L35 features a large capacity two-pump hydraulic system that increases hydraulic flow and power for improved efficiency. The system provides lifting power for a three-point hitch, which allows for the use of rotary tillers, post hole diggers, boxscrapers, rotary cutters and mowers, rear blade and a hydraulic hammer.
The TL720 front loader has increased bucket rollback and dumping angles of 45û. The ASAE-rated lift capacity is 1,653 lb with a breakout force of 2,745 lb. The BT900 backhoe has a maximum digging depth of 9.2 ft with a bucket cylinder digging force of 4,971 lb.
Work with it
The bad and the ugly. According to New Holland, the LB115 4-wheel steer backhoe/loader excels in both environments.
"Working in the mud and around ditches, pipelines and other difficult terrain can slow down a conventional backhoe, but these conditions are no match for New Hollands Model LB115 four-wheel steer backhoe/loader," said the manufacturer.
Three upgrades have been made from the 655E: a turbo-charged, 108-hp engine, full-time 4-wheel steering and four equal-size tires for power, traction and agility.
Three steering modesfront-wheel steer, circle steer and crab steerare offered in the LB115. Front-wheel steer gives the operator control during roading applications and at times when the increased maneuverability of a specialty mode is not required. In the circle-steer mode, the front and rear wheels turn in opposite directions for a tight turning radius. When the machine is operated with crab steer, the front and rear wheels turn in the same direction, allowing the machine to travel sideways to work along walls, obstacles and to maneuver in and out of tight spaces.
New Hollands entry-level backhoe loader is the LB75, which is powered by a New Holland/Iveco engine that delivers 75 gross hp.
The machine has a fast cycle time, and features a straight-arm loader with four-bar linkages and dual-bucket cylinders.
The single-lever loader comes with four control options: two lever, two-lever excavator style, three lever with footswing and four lever.
The digging depth of the LB75 is 14 ft, 5 in.
The newest compact tractor backhoe at Terramite Corp., Charleston, W. Va., the T5D, comes equipped with a 20-hp engine, 96-in. loader dump height, extended reach arms, high capacity front loader bucket for faster cycle time, center mount steering, Super Terra Grip front and rear tires for better traction and maneuverability and dual front curl cylinders.
The companys "most powerful" loader backhoe is the T6. The backhoe on this machine digs down to 10 ft, while the loader lifts 2,300 lb up to 102 in. Optional 4-wheel drive enables the T6 to peform well in low traction conditions.
The main features on the T5C are: an 8-ft, 4-in. digging depth, a loader arm support strut and a boom lock.