Compact Equipment

SEP 2018

Compact Equipment is a magazine dedicated to equipment owners and operators of small, nimble, tool-carrying construction, landscape and ag equipment — such as skid steers, mini excavators, compact tractors, generators compressors and beyond.

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Page 24 of 55

I f you're looking to buy a small wheel loader, you will not be lacking in options. Even with sales for compact wheel loaders in North America hovering around a modest 5,000 units in 2017, there are 14 major manu- facturers in the market: Case, Cat, Gehl, Hitachi, JCB, John Deere, Kubota, Mustang, New Holland, SDLG, Takeu- chi, Volvo, Wacker Neuson and Yanmar. While most of those brands offer four or five compact wheel loaders in their line- ups, Cat offers seven models, Case offers eight and Wacker Neuson offers 10. Why so many? These manufacturers are seeing the benefits of small wheel loaders over competitive machine categories, and they're also seeing specific options and sizes fitting niche applications. Both are resulting in sat- isfied customers. "When they make that move into a wheel loader, they love it," says Drew Miller, product marketing manager for John Deere's Construction and Forestry Division. "It doesn't take them long to understand the benefits of it in terms of wear and tear from a machine operation and maintenance perspec- tive. Small wheel loaders also do really well in the applications they are built for — compared to say a more versatile machine like a backhoe or a skid steer. Other benefits include visibility, fuel consumption and tire life. We've heard from customers of up to five times longer tire life for these machines versus something like a skid steer that really grinds through its tires." Fast ground speeds, higher ground clearances, better fuel consumption, longer wheel bases for better ride quality, greater lift capacities, easy ingress and egress, outstanding visibility — compact wheel loaders have lots of advantages over other compact machinery, but what differentiators are there between brands? Are there unique technologies, op- tions, warranties, services or styles that separate competitive units? We took the opportunity to survey the industry and find out. ALL-WHEEL STEER, ARTICULATED AND TELESCOPING We started our research with one of the global leaders in compact wheel loaders — Wacker Neuson — which has been building units for 80 years. Today, the company offers maybe the biggest and most diverse lineup (10 units) in the American marketplace, selling all-wheel steer, articulated and telescoping models. "Articulating wheel loaders are the most popular type in the industry. The articulation joint makes these units highly maneuverable, especially in tight working conditions," ex- plains John Dotto, product marketing manager at Wacker Neuson. "All-wheel steer loaders have the same loading and cab concept as an articulated machine, but the steering con- cept is different. An all-wheel steer machine has a rigid frame where the front and rear tires steer in one of three possible modes: front wheel, all wheel and crab. In addition to the versatility provided by the various steering modes, an all- wheel steer machine has one major advantage over an ar- ticulated machine and that's stability. The center of gravity is not affected by the steering of the machine, so there is no need to calculate full turn and straight tipping loads on an all-wheel steer machine. Telescopic loaders, both all-wheel and articulated, offer all of the above-mentioned productiv - ity and benefits, while also being capable of providing extra loading and dumping height." 25 WE SURVEY THE COMPACT INDUSTRY TO FIND THE MOST INNOVATIVE OPTIONS AROUND By Keith Gribbins

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