A skid-steer loader is truly a "jack-of-all-trades." With their myriad attachment options, these units can be found doing many tasks on many different types of jobsites. From earthmoving on a building site to landscaping a park to cleaning stalls in a barn, skid-steers can be found helping operators get the job done.
While skid steers can be utilized in many different ways, size does matter. A smaller skid steer wouldn't be the best choice for a roadbuilding crew that needs to mill a few inches of asphalt off a road; and a full-size skid steer wouldn't be the best option for a homeowner to use for his backyard garden.
Skid-steer loaders are typically rated by their rated operating capacity (ROC). Below are the size classes listed by AEM (Associated Equipment Manufacturers):
- Zero to 1,251 lbs.
- 1,251 to 1,350 lbs.
- 1,351 to 1,600 lbs.
- 1,601 to 1,750 lbs.
- 1,751 to 2,200 lbs.
- 2,201 to 2,700 lbs.
- 2,701 lbs. and above
"The most popular size in the construction industry is the 1,751- to 2,200-lb. ROC machines," says Greg Rostberg with Bobcat Co. "As the ROC increases between machines, so too does the horsepower of the engine."
Gregg Zupancic, product marketing manager for skid steers and compact track loaders at John Deere, notes that size and horsepower of the skid steer usually falls into one of three categories:
- Small frame = 1,750 lbs., under 50 hp
- Medium frame = 1,750-2,200 lbs., 50-70 hp
- Large frame = Over 2,200 lbs., over 70 hp
Each size and type has its own strengths and weaknesses. So, how do you know which size is best for the application?
Ask the right questions
What's the best way to match a skid steer to your customer's task? In order to find out exactly what it is the customer wants to do with the machine, you need to ask some questions.
"Find out as much as you can about the job the skid steer is being put to," says Zupancic. "Get an idea of the dimensions of the site - especially the minimum dimensions. The worst thing for a contractor is to feel his rental provider hasn't given his business enough thought and has recommended a machine that won't fit within the most vital dimensions of the jobsite."
Jobsite dimensions are one of the greatest factors to know to fit the skid steer to the job. "Understanding physical limitations of the work area often dictates the class that may be used in the application," says Dennis Turney, Hyundai Construction Equipment. "The next consideration would be the lifting height or dumping height requirement, along with the capacity of the job. Finally, hydraulic capacity needs to known in order to operate any hydraulic attachments.
In addition to jobsite dimensions, knowing which tasks need to be completed is a must.
"Knowing the specific applications the customer would like to perform will help a rental business determine the size and power of machine needed to most efficiently complete the tasks," says Rostberg. "Asking questions and getting to the core of the customer's work will help determine this. Also, while inquiring about the customer's needs, a rental business might discover opportunities to rent attachments that will help the customer more quickly and efficiently complete their job."
As a rental business operator, it's also imperative that you understand what the different sizes in your fleet can do.
The size of things
"All skid-steer loaders share a variety of characteristics that make them suitable for a range of applications," says Rostberg. "Skid-steer loaders are maneuverable, due to their ability to turn in their own tracks; compact, allowing them access to areas larger equipment can not go; and versatile, with the ability to use dozens of attachments."
This being said, each class of skid steer fills its own niche. Small-frame skid steers, for example, are ideal for landscaping, building and site development and underground construction, because of their compact size.