He adds, "Customers tell us that an easier-to-use machine helps get new operators up to speed faster. TMC makes learning backhoe operation easier. At the same time, it makes the actual backhoe operator faster as well."
Aside from controls, there are some additional features that boost productivity as well. New Holland, for example, offers its curved boom design on its B Series. "We've shortened the size of the cylinders in the boom, but made them thicker," explains Chavez. "This increases the flow and pressure, which increases the breakout force and lifting capacity of the boom."
New Holland also offers an automatic power shift transmission as an option on its backhoe loaders, as opposed to the power shuttle transmission that comes standard.
"The Power Shift is like driving a car. It's used a lot by municipalities or in applications where the operator is in the machine all day," Chavez explains. "The Power Shuttle is more common in rental. It's a preference thing. Fuel consumption is not affected by the type of transmission."
JCB features its LiveLink system on its backhoe loaders. Launched at ConExpo, this feature offers diagnostics and GPS via a telephone signal, allowing fleet owners to monitor their machines remotely. "This really enhances uptime and productivity," Blower says.
Service and maintenance
Operator comfort isn't the only factor contributing to increased productivity. Ease of service is also significant. Blower at JCB points to his company's Extra Dig feature which simplifies the adjustment of the telescoping part of the backhoe. "It takes less time to do it and at less cost," says Blower. "All it takes is an operator with a wrench. There's no trip to the shop."
To ease service, New Holland features a tilt-up hood that provides full access to the engine compartment from the ground level. This makes performing service and maintenance more convenient and safer for the operator.
Chavez notes that with the Tier 3 compliance changes came the ability to do some diagnostics from the cab. "Everything is right there in a simple way," he adds. "The instrument cluster is very car-like. New operators should be able to get in and start being productive right away."
Tyler notes that even simple things, like using common filters so fewer parts need to be kept on hand, can go a long way toward increasing efficiency. "Low daily operating costs are increasingly important... so in addition to increasing service intervals, making the service items accessible also plays a large part in how fast the service personnel can perform the required maintenance. Having to unbolt side shields, or reach into inaccessible areas all hinder the service operation. Deere's tilting hood and filter access are aimed at addressing these concerns."
Features that increase comfort and simplify service are no longer luxuries on backhoe loaders. All manufacturers recognize that machines which are comfortable and easy to use will be the most productive. As such, the design of today's backhoe loader reflects a commitment to these objectives as well as to that of optimum efficiency and are well worth the investment.