The way a skid steer is controlled can have a significant impact on your customer’s experience with the machine and ultimately, his opinion of your rental business. Understanding the different types of controls available on today’s machines and their importance to your customers can help you tailor your fleet to meet their expectations.
Following are some of the most popular control options and how they work:
Dual-Lever Foot Control –Invented by Bobcat 50 years ago, this type of skid steer control system consists of dual steering levers that control the drive functions, while dual foot pedals control the hydraulic lift and tilt functions. Often referred to as “standard” controls, they remain a popular choice today.
H-Pattern Control – With this control function, the operator only needs to use his/her hands, explains Jamie Wright, Terex Construction Americas. When driving, this control is the same as the dual-lever foot control unit as stated above; however, the lift arm and bucket function work differently. This control has hinged handles on the levers, or at the base of the levers, that when pulled toward the operator or pushed away operate the lift arm and bucket function. The left lever lowers the lift arm when pulled toward the operator; when the lever is pushed away from the operator, it raises the lift arm. The bucket tilt function works the same way as the lift, only it is positioned on the right side - push out for bucket dump and pull in for bucket curl.
Many manufacturers offer the option to switch between control modes. Bobcat, for example, offers the Advanced Control System (ACS). On equipped models, the operator can press a switch and go from standard to H-Pattern controls. “This is often the ideal choice for rental inventories,” says Mike Fitzgerald at Bobcat, “because of the flexibility and versatility it offers.”
ISO Joystick Control – This control option operates completely differently than the previous two control options. Joystick control is either hydraulic or electric-over-hydraulic control, says Wright. The left joystick drives the unit. The lift arm and bucket functions are in the right joystick control.
The latest and (to some) greatest – Many of today’s skid steers offer selectable controls to manipulate between ISO and H-Pattern control options to appeal to a larger customer base; however, H-Pattern controls are becoming less popular, says Wright at Terex Construction Americas. “Also, the incorporation of attachment control at the joystick is popular. This feature gives the operator complete control over complex attachments.”
Fitzgerald notes that Bobcat Selectable Joystick Controls offer some key features:
- Precise Joystick Responses - Low-effort controls respond to forward drive, reverse drive and steering changes. These comfortable controls are less fatiguing, thus allowing operators to work longer and more productively.
- Speed Management - Matches the operator’s travel speed to operation requirements for optimizing attachment performance. It provides precise control of machine movements in tight areas when digging or pushing materials, loading or unloading, and hooking up attachments.
- Horsepower Management –Automatically adjusts the drive system to maximize pushing and digging power without stalling the engine.
- Foot Throttle – Increases engine speed when needed since the operator’s feet are free of other controls.
- Fingertip Switches – Control attachment functions, speed management, horn and blinkers without the need to let go of the joysticks.
- Selectable Control Pattern –Operators can select ISO or H-Pattern hand controls by pressing a switch to satisfy their personal preference.
- Steering Drift Compensation – The system reduces steering drift, provides side-shift operation for trenchers and planers, and adjusts for surface variations such as crowned roads.
- Drive Response – Operators can adjust to jobsite conditions by setting the drive and steering responsiveness to one of three settings.