A backhoe-loader can be used to perform the tasks of both an excavator and a wheel loader, maximizing utilization. But there is a compromise for this versatility.
A backhoe-loader will not out-produce a mini-excavator in a pure trenching application, nor will it out-produce a wheel loader in a loading application, says Jim Blower, senior product manager, JCB. But the machine can do both and has additional benefits as far as road speed to get between jobs.
While many applications are weighted heavily on the backhoe end, front-end capabilities are what really add to the versatility of these machines. Fortunately, there are many features available to enhance such performance specs as breakout force, lift capacity/force, dump height and reach and more.
Traction speeds cycle times
Several options will enhance loader work, depending on the operation at hand, says Bob Tyler, John Deere. Four-wheel drive is the most obvious for enhanced traction in loose or sticky conditions. It can even reduce tire wear in dry conditions, where spinning is reduced due to the increased grip.
The added benefits of a limited-slip front differential can also keep you going where an open differential might not, he continues. The limited-slip design gives you more traction because both front wheels are pulling, as opposed to just one with the open differential.
Four-wheel drive allows the loader bucket to be filled more quickly. This reduces loading cycle times, which means a pile can be moved quicker, a load can be loaded faster or a trench can be filled in less time. The four-wheel-drive backhoes have more tractive effort, which delivers better pushing power and more production in sloppy and wet conditions, states Paul Wade, inside sales manager, New Holland Construction.
Most of our customers do not have the luxury of operating on smooth, solid surfaces, notes Keith Rohrbacker, construction equipment product manager, Kubota. Proper tire selection helps, but four-wheel drive provides the traction required for operating on rough, uneven surfaces or for operation on slopes, grades and hills.
Using four-wheel drive along with rear-wheel differential lock is essential when work must go on during and after the rainy season, he adds, providing smooth and sure starts and stops ? essential control required when working around personnel in tight spaces.
In addition to four-wheel drive and four-wheel steering for maneuverability, JCB offers a torque proportioning differential to provide traction even in difficult conditions, plus limited-slip steer drive axles front and rear. Some machines also have four equal-size tires to increase ground clearance and provide better flotation for loader work.
For the operator that would like to do more loader work with their machine, JCB offers a 4CX, which is a machine that has larger front wheels, says Blower. That adds stability in loader applications, as opposed to the traditional machines, which have smaller wheels on the loader end.
Keep the machine
Weight distribution between the front and rear axles has a dramatic impact on loader performance.
Balance is extremely important when doing front-end loader work, says Wade. When the machine isn?t balanced correctly, you tend to lose your load.
If too much weight is on the rear end, the front-wheel drive may not be able to get proper traction and may slip, giving less traction and more tire wear, Tyler explains. Steering can also become less effective. Conversely, if too much weight is on the front, then the steering can become heavy under load.
Machines have to be balanced for all applications ? backhoe, loader and road transport, Blower adds. Too much weight on the front will increase tire wear in road transport and loading applications. Not enough weight on the front will mean the front of the machine will pick up in tough backhoe applications.