Compact Equipment

JAN 2019

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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30 Compact Equipment JANUARY 2019 Over at John Deere, a new on-board grade indicator is an option on its large-frame skid steers and track loaders. The device doesn't take over machine controls. Rather, it is a grade reference for operators, with an absolute or relative grade readout displayed on a digital LCD screen in either percentages or degrees of slope. Gregg Zupancic, product marketing manager for Deere Construction and Forestry, compares the indicator to an "on-board bubble level." "It is kind of simple technology that customers have asked us to develop for quite a while," Zupancic says. "They just want a quick reference to tell which way ground is sloping. It can tell an operator if a machine is on a flat surface, fore and aft and side to side. So, if you're wanting to make a 3 percent grade, you would start shaving off a surface, then park a machine on the resulting slope and see what grade you have." One appeal of the relatively simple device, which can either be factory installed or installed in the field, is its cost. The device runs about $2,500, whereas full-fledged grade control systems can cost upward of $20,000 (2D) and $70,000 (3D). "Our customers tend to be more price- point buyers of machinery. They buy compact equipment because it is less expensive but versatile. This is our entry to meet the customer need to know which way the water is going to flow." Accurate to within a quarter of an inch, according to Zupancic, the system is available now on G-Series Deere models, the heavier machines typically used for serious grading. "We are just now getting it into customers' hands. If the introduction goes well, we can implement it down the line in smaller models." Deere's larger skid steers and compact track loaders also now can be equipped with an "electrohydraulic boom performance package." The programmable assists were de- signed to help operators doing repeatable loading and lift- ing tasks by eliminating the need for repetitious manual adjustments. These include bucket self-leveling at every stage of a lift and return-to-dig and return-to-carry posi- tions as well as a locked-in boom height control. "We had a customer whose operators would forget the height of a trailer and bang into it when loading or unload- ing. With boom height kickout, the boom will automati- cally stop at a certain height. It makes sense. We really see a lot of these solutions in the electrohydraulic systems." Michelin's airless X-Tweel SSL tires are factory-approved additions to the Case skid steer lineup.

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