A skid steer loader is a compact construction machine that is typically used for excavation. Its arms can link to a range of tools for a variety of construction and landscaping activities, and it's lightweight and nimble.
The skid steer loader will have either four wheels or two tracks. The front and back axles on each side are locked in synchronisation, however the wheels on the opposite side of the machine can be driven separately.
The wheels remain in a fixed straight alignment and do not turn. In order to spin the machine, the skid steer operator must increase the speed of one side's wheels, causing the wheels to skid or drag across the ground as the vehicle turns in the other direction. The steering function is the source of the machine's name.
In more severe winter conditions, an operator can employ a snow blower or snow blade attachment in addition to the bucket to clear snow.
A skid steer may undertake excavation work with attachments like a ripper, tiller, trencher, or wheel saw.
For building and construction tasks, the equipment can be equipped with a cement mixer or a pavement miller.
The stump grinder, tree spade, wood chipper, and trench-digging attachments will appeal to landscapers, while the pallet forks and bale spears will appeal to agricultural and warehousing workers.
Trenching and excavating
Finally, and perhaps most importantly, the skid steer can be equipped with a backhoe, trench-digger, and auger, among other digging accessories (which operates like a corkscrew to burrow a precise hole).
There is an attachment for almost every worksite situation, making the skid steer a viable alternative for any task. It's vital that you or your hired skid steer operator understand the skid steer's and the accessories you'll be utilising for each job's specific safety and maintenance guidelines.
If you want to employ a skid steer loader on your job site, you'll need to find out which size is right for you. Despite the fact that skid steer loaders are small in compared to other types of heavy equipment, they are available in a number of sizes for purchase or rental. The size of a skid steer is defined by the dimensions of the frame, as well as the weight, power, and capacity.
For example, Caterpillar now offers eight skid steer models, ranging in working weight from 5,849 to 9,573 pounds. These vehicles' horsepower vary, with larger versions having more horsepower than smaller units. Another important metric is the rated operational capacity (ROC). The ROC is a measurement of how much weight a skid steer can lift before toppling. The smallest Cat® skid steer has a 1,550-pound lifting capability, while the largest has a 3,700-pound lifting capacity.
"How big do I need a skid steer?" you're probably wondering. The answer is determined by the applications you plan to employ. Some of the advantages that each size group has to offer are as follows:
Compact: A skid steer with a small frame is a suitable alternative if you require a skid steer for tasks in tight spaces, such as interior demolition or underground construction, or precision work, such as landscaping. Smaller skid steer loaders are easier to transport to and from the job site, as well as manoeuvre on site.
Mid-size skid steers are a terrific, versatile option to small skid steers that are still small and light while delivering more power and capacity. With the right attachments, these skid steers may be a great tool for excavating in tight locations where a larger piece of equipment, such as a backhoe, would be too bulky.
Large: Large skid steers are suited for heavy-duty tasks such as large-scale demolition operations, excavation work, and roadbuilding. Even though a large skid steer is smaller than many other common construction machines, it is heavier to move and less adept at manoeuvring in tight spaces than smaller skid steers.
Attachments for skid-steer and compact track loaders allow them to do a variety of jobs, including trench digging. A backhoe attachment attached to a skid steer or compact track loader may be more efficient than a dedicated digging machine such as a backhoe-loader in some situations.
A backhoe loader will almost definitely never be replaced by an attachment. This is partly due to the fact that a dedicated machine is built and intended to do a certain duty on a daily basis, and to do so efficiently and productively.
"A dedicated machine is definitely intended for optimal backhoe performance," says Caterpillar's Kevin Hershberger. "From the structures of the mainframe to the hydraulic pump and valves, a dedicated machine is obviously built for optimised backhoe performance." "An attachment backhoe is one of a number of tools designed to work as efficiently as possible within the machine's current design limits."
Hershberger suggests assessing the type of job your customer does on a regular basis to see if a backhoe attachment is right for them. Inquire whether they trench on a frequent basis or whether trenching is something they perform on a regular basis.
"Dedicated equipment will be more suited for someone who needs to do backhoe work every day," says Ron Peters of CE Attachments. A contractor who digs trenches on a regular basis can employ a skid-steer loader.
Other factors to consider are any size restrictions that may apply to most jobs, regular ground conditions and trenching requirements, and transportation requirements.
Here are a few things to consider before selling a backhoe attachment/skid steer combination or specialised equipment to your customers.
Issues with space
A skid-steer or compact track loader may have certain manoeuvrability advantages due to their smaller size.
"With a shorter overall length, moving around a jobsite is easier," says Bobcat's Justin Odegaard. "If your customer's only activity is digging, there may be little advantage. If they're doing everything themselves, like trenching and backfilling, a shorter machine will allow them to fit into tighter locations." In this case, a skid steer with a backhoe attachment would be appropriate.
In tight spaces, a skid-steer or compact track loader might be helpful due to its steering approach. "Manoeuvrability is generally easier," Odegaard asserts. "With a specialised machine, front-wheel or all-wheel steer is conceivable. With a longer package, getting into tighter spaces is more difficult. With a skid steer or a small track loader, you can get into some very tight spots."
Concerns about the environment
With the help of a backhoe attachment, operators can employ tracks. Compact track loaders, in example, can be used to complete a range of construction jobs discreetly.
"It can have a huge influence depending on where they work," Odegaard says. "Having tracks can be handy if you're walking through sand or mud," the author says.
Tracks might also be beneficial while working in well-established sites. "Compact track loaders have a smaller footprint and lower ground pressure than regular track loaders, so they leave a smaller footprint. They do not leave ruts in soft soil "Odegaard continues with something else.
Is it really necessary for them to continue?
A backhoe attachment may be more appropriate if your client desires a shallow, narrow trench. On some of Bobcat's smaller equipment, for example, a backhoe that digs to a depth of 6 feet and a skid steer as tiny as 36 inches can be used.
"If they're digging shallow and need to get into a backyard to dig a fish pond or do something similar," Odegaard says, "they can simply do it with one of our smaller machines since it fits through the gate and they don't have to tear down any fences."
Transporting goods machine
A backhoe loader is usually heavier than a skid-steer loader. Because of the backhoe-heavier loader's weight, a larger trailer and a CDL may be required, so keep that in mind.
"Because of the reduced length of a skid-steer loader, you might be able to get away with a shorter trailer," Odegaard explains.
Now is a great time for safety reminders as many sorts of construction sites prepare for spring and summer labour. A comprehensive warning titled "Preventing Injuries and Deaths from Skid Steer Loaders" has been developed by the National Institutes for Occupational Safety and Health. Although this article can be utilised in training sessions, we believed it was vital to share with you these three crucial skid steer safety tips: When approaching and departing the skid steer, be cautious.
Ascend the loader with the bucket lying on the ground and the lift-arm supports in place.
Face the machine and use three points of contact to climb the steps and handholds.
Climbing with hand or foot controls is not recommended.
When it's time to exit, make sure the bucket is on the ground, the parking brake is engaged, and the engine is turned off before getting out.
Exit the skid steer using the same three-point contact approach that you boarded with.
Clean the walkways and other work areas to prepare the equipment for the next day or shift.
Work in a secure environment.
For your own protection, always operate the machine from within the premises. Not only is the operator's cubicle functional, but it is also secure.
Sit down to keep your balance while operating the skid steer.
While the taxi is running, keep your legs, arms, and head inside.
While working, make sure you're wearing your seatbelt. Check that the restraint bar is in a good place. Turning off safety equipment is never a good idea.
Make sure onlookers or ground workers are far enough away to see them and avoid danger.
To ensure a safe operation, follow these guidelines: By not spinning the machine or loading/unloading on uneven ground, you can avoid tipping it. Slope crossing is rarely a smart idea; instead, go straight up and down. The machine's heavy end should be facing up.
On shaky ground, use the skid steer sparingly.
When shifting or turning, keep the bucket in the smallest feasible position.
Stick to the maintenance guidelines to the letter.
Always follow the manufacturer's service and preventive maintenance instructions. When equipment isn't properly maintained, mistakes and safety violations are all too often.
The foot controls should be cleaned as needed to maintain them clear of dirt, snow, ice, and other debris.
All safety belts, restraint bars, side screens, interlocked controls, and the rollover protection framework should be inspected and maintained on a regular basis (ROPS). It is never a good idea to turn off or tamper with any safety equipment.
No maintenance should be done beneath a raised bucket. That you don't have any other options, check to see if the lift-arm supports are in place.
We'll throw in a fourth skid steer safety tip: it's not just the operator who has to be cautious when operating a skid steer. On the ground, those working near loaders or other moving gear must be constantly aware of their surroundings. Even the most experienced operator can't guarantee total visibility, especially when both the equipment and the humans are moving. It is everyone's responsibility to keep everyone safe.
Bobcat: We supply Bobcat because we believe their product quality and customer service are unparalleled.
Hitachi: Among other brands, we carry Hitachi Construction Machinery diggers. This is because Hitachi has a long history of producing trustworthy diggers to the construction industry in the United Kingdom.
Caterpillar is a construction-related company that makes diggers, among other things. Skid steer loaders made by Caterpillar are critical to the construction industry's survival.
JCB: If you ask any builder what a JCB is, they'll probably look at you with a puzzled expression on their face. This is because JCB is the most well-known skid steer loader manufacturer in the world.
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