"With the skid steer, you have a blind spot," Passow notes. "You can't see real well when the bucket is up high in the air."
But the skid steer maintained stability, even in the heavy soil. "It was not 'rocky' or anything like I thought it would be," Passow says. "It was nice and stable."
The choice of which machine the operators would choose for this task really depends on jobsite conditions.
According to Steen, his choice would be based on the distance between the stockpile and the truck. "If it was further away, I would use the wheel loader because you have less bouncing around," he explains. "But the skid steer worked in a tighter area."
The level of ground disturbance on the loading floor is also a consideration. "With the loader, you are not tearing up as much," says Passow.
He adds, "Overall, for loading out of a stockpile, the loader is much more versatile."
Task 2: Fork operation
Pallets containing several materials, including steel tracks and concrete blocks, were picked off the ground, transported and loaded onto a Class 8 flatbed trailer. The pallets were then picked off the trailer, transported and set on the ground.
Visibility to the forks was a major criteria. "With the wheel loader, you couldn't see the ends of your forks," says Steen. "You have to tip your forks down to see where you are going to put them into the pallets. You can guesstimate, but a lot of times you are going to hit the pallet and break it."
Greenberg had a similar experience. "I had a little bit of trouble finding placement with the forks. I had trouble seeing where I was at," he states. This was especially true when picking a pallet off the trailer.
The skid steer, on the other hand, surprised operators with its visibility when it came to picking the pallet off the trailer. "You are down lower and you can see your forks going into it easier," says Steen.
"With the skid steer, you are a little bit lower than where the forks slide into the pallet on the truck bed," Greenberg adds. "It is a lot easier to see that from the skid steer vantage point."
Having the pallet close to the machine can also be an advantage. "The skid steer felt a little more stable with the load of blocks on it being closer," says Passow. "I was shocked how nice it handled the load of block."
Yet, he still preferred the overall visibility provided by the cab height of the wheel loader, and the fact it is easier on the work surface. "In a lot of our operations, we are on some older asphalt. I think you would chew it up with the skid steer, even though you could get into tighter places," he explains.
Rosenlund, however, was more comfortable using the skid steer in this task. "It may not have felt 'tippy' because I knew its capabilities," he comments. "It almost seemed that the loader - with the load further out in front of me - felt a little more unstable, especially when I turned."
He felt the wheel loader offered better transport speed and visibility around the work area when traveling with the load. But the skid steer provided better visibility to the forks. This was especially true when unloading from a trailer. "The skid steer, being closer, I could kind of see underneath it," he says.
"As far as maneuverability, I think you can probably maneuver better with the skid steer," says Greenberg. "Even with the load raised, I didn't feel uncomfortable."
The skid steer also allows for easier repositioning. "If you set the load on the truck, then realize you are off and you have to reposition [the load], it is quicker to reposition it with the skid steer," he adds.
Again, travel distance can affect machine choice. "If I had to haul anything, I would feel more comfortable in the loader because the visibility is better and it is a little more comfortable," Greenberg concludes.
Task 3: Digging a hole
Both machines were used to dig a hole in the wet, slippery conditions. The bucket breakout force for the 450 radial-lift skid steer is 6,200 lbs., while the 21E wheel loader produces 8,386 lbs.