"Interior demolition is a good example where these machines excel, as the machine is small enough to access the inside of a building, yet powerful enough to use a hydraulic breaker attachment to demolish concrete and then switch to a grapple to remove the debris," says Rostberg. "Accessing in-between houses built closely together or through backyard gates and fences is another prime example of the usefulness of this size machine."
Medium-size machines comprise the "lion's share of the market," says Turney with Hyundai. Because of their "excellent engine power, balance and hydraulics, these machines are suited for a wide variety of attachments and applications," he explains.
Zupancic says it's all about the size of the site and the use the skid steer is put to. "These construction and jobsite applications require a little more power and bucket size, but are still in a confined enough space that contractors cannot bring in the big machines," he explains. "Sometimes the operator doesn't need the extra muscle of a larger skid-steer loader and finds it more economical to have a 50- to 70-hp machine."
Larger loaders have the power and ability to tackle larger construction site jobs, from grading and excavating to roadbuilding and heavy lifting applications.
This machine size's ROC allows it to lift the heaviest loads, such as moving pallets of brick or dumping loads of dirt into the back of trucks. "These machines also have the horsepower and hydraulic flow to tackle tough jobs and attachments," says Rostberg. "Attachments that perform best with a high-flow machine, such as a wheel saw or planer for road construction or a forestry cutter for site preparation, work best with these machines."
Applications that require the extra horsepower, such as dozing work, are also a good fit for large skid-steer loaders. "Basically, the large-frame skid steers are going to do the heavy lifting for a contractor," says Zupancic. "When they need a big machine to do the hard work on a big site, but they still need maximum manueverablity and versatility, they'll turn to a large skid steer."
When a skid-steer loader isn't the best option
Skid steers are incredibly versatile machines, especially when you take advantage of the host of attachments available for them. However, they might not be the best choice for some applications. In some instances, a mini track or compact track loader might be the better option.
For example, a homeowner or contractor working on an established lawn might be best served with a tracked machine that will cause less damage - and less rework - to the lawn, saving time and money. Or, much like the small skid-steer loaders, a mini track loader is an excellent way to access narrow or tight areas, such as through a backyard gate or in between buildings built closely together.
A contractor who needs to work in mud or softer soils may be better matched with a compact track loader to keep them working more efficiently and effectively. Or, if a contractor needs the extra pushing power of a compact track loader, such as for dozing work, it would be a better choice versus a skid-steer loader.
Information provided by Greg Rostberg, Bobcat Co.