New capabilities boosting skid-steer versatility

Features - Equipment

Improvements to hydraulic and electronic controls are making new skid-steer models more resourceful.

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January 2, 2018
Kate Spirgen
Photo courtesy of JCB

With improvements to hydraulics and electronic controls, skid-steers are more versatile than ever before. And as they become more powerful, they’re able to do the jobs of much larger equipment.

“Now we can get into areas and do jobs and applications with much smaller equipment and less costs by moving equipment in and out that we’ve never been able to do in the past,” says Perry Girard, attachments product marketing manager for CNH Industrial, which provides attachments for New Holland Construction skid-steers. “There’s a lot of attachments out there for a landscape contractor and other things people may not be aware of.”

Skid-steers and the right attachments can speed up all kinds of hand work, reducing the man-hours required for a job. And with the current labor shortage, that can be a big advantage.

“With today’s machine capabilities, hydraulic circuit capacities and variety of attachments, there are few landscaping tasks that cannot be enhanced by a skid-steer or compact track loader,” says Ryan Connelly, aftermarket sales manager for JCB.

In some cases, skid-steers can now perform the work of many machines. From side discharge buckets to direct track motors to mulchers to brush cutters, attachments allow the same machine to take a job from beginning to end.

“Loaders paired with attachments are vital to ensure landscapers can complete projects in a timely manner because they are versatile,” says Christopher Girodat, marketing manager, Bobcat Company. “Operators can quickly switch from one attachment to another to quickly level an area, lift and carry seed or sod, plant trees or shrubs, clean an area with an angle broom … The list is endless.”

Essentially, being able to use the same machine for multiple applications can allow landscapers to expand their offerings and take on more jobs.

Think about what you can do with a preparator vs. five guys with rakes, Girard says. The man-hours you save allow you to take on more jobs. And that can allow you to purchase more equipment that will save even more time.

Before you buy.

When it comes to purchasing new attachments, the No. 1 thing to do is match your machine to your attachment, Girard says. “What’s really key about attachments too is how easy they plug and play well with your machine. That’s going to save you a lot of aggravation.”

New attachments and add-ons for skid-steers allow the equipment to perform the tasks of multiple types of machinery.
Photo courtesy of Bobcat

Girard says he’s seen a lot of people who don’t understand that attachments require a certain lift capacity or pounds per minute flow. “It’s like a car. How many people am I going to handle? Am I carrying seven people around with a bunch of kids or is it just me and my wife? What are you using this car for?”

Also consider not only how often you plan to use them, but also whether you can use them across multiple carriers like compact excavators, mini track loaders and compact track loaders.

Other things to consider are the loads you’ll need to lift so that you can determine the horsepower and hydraulic flow you’ll need to power your attachments.

You also want to look at the value of high-flow auxiliary hydraulics that can benefit from an extra power boost.

“If a particular attachment is expected to make up a significant portion of your operational time, it increases your productivity and your overall return using machines and attachments with high-flow hydraulics capabilities,” Girodat says.

“What’s really key about attachments too is how easy they plug and play well with your machine.” Perry Girard, CNH Industrial

Renting can help landscapers expand service offerings even more. “For example, a landscaper may pick up work clearing overgrown areas with a rotary cutter or flail cutter,” Girodat says. “Attachments like these enable landscapers to add revenue without a significant capital investment.”

Girard recommends if you’re using an attachment 40 percent of the time or less, to just rent. But if you’re using it 60 percent of the time or more, it’s probably something you should purchase since renting is more expensive than buying outright over time. And don’t forget to think outside the box. While you might be buying an attachment for a specific function, consider what else you can do with it. For example, a contractor may buy a broom attachment for jobsite cleanup, but that can also be used for snow removal in winter.

The latest scoop.

Just this year, JCB launched the Teleskid, the world’s first skid-steer with a telescoping boom and the ability to reach 3 feet below grade.

With a dump height of 13 feet, 3 inches, it allows landscapers to load high-sided trucks without a ramp, load and unload across 8 feet, dig and clear drainage ditches and mow slopes, Connelly says. This allows landscapers to use the equipment from site preparation to cultivation and surface finishing.

Bobcat’s new M2-series of skid-steer loaders has some new features like the automatic ride control option, which reduces material spillage, allowing operators to travel at faster speeds. The reversing fan option keeps debris out of the radiator and rear screens to reduce downtime.

This year, CNH Industrial has a new nursery for general use from hardscape materials to more delicate items like tree balls. Bobcat Company introduced a new pallet fork frame enhancing visibility and ease of entry for operators.

And for improved snow removal efficiency, CNH Industrial has a new snow sectional that contours to uneven areas of pavement, clearing snow up to 90 percent in one pass. “So it allows you to catch the low spots and the high spots at the same time,” Girard says.