Contractors' Choice: Attachments add to productivity and profitability

When you purchased your skid steer loader or backhoe, how many job applications did you have in mind? Chances are, you purchased this equipment for a specific application or two and never really considered what else it could be used for – with the right attachment.

The truth is, there are literally dozens of skid steer, backhoe, and small excavator attachments on the market. Most of these can be easily retrofitted to accommodate your present machines; others may require a slight tweak or two to your equipment's hydraulic or electrical system. Either way, the new addition will add another dimension to your original investment, save you time and money and, in the process, generate new sales opportunities.

Shaving for dollars

One of the more popular attachments for skid-steer loaders is the cold planer. The attachment is ideal for milling frost heaves, expansion joints, railroad approaches and reverse speed bumps to name but a few applications. Iowa-based Paladin offers five models in its Bradco HP Series line of high-flow cold planers. These attachments range in milling widths from 16 to 40 inches and mill to a depth of 5 ½ inches.

According to Bradco OEM Account Manager Bob Bethards, the company's new cold planer models have been on the market for little over a year and consolidate several years' worth of new ideas and improvements from the field and OEMs. Among features, the new models are fully adjustable with electro-hydraulic controls and have independent self-leveling depth adjustment plates for precise lapping and taper cuts, high rear spoil clearance to prevent recirculation of material, and angled spoil guard wheel design that reduces rolling resistance and helps maintain control over depth of cut. The models are heavier, too, he notes, which means the attachment and not the skid steer and its operator absorbs the energy.

As the name implies, cold planers shave away surface material. "Cold planers are designed to remove a couple of inches of material at a pass," says Bethards. "Our high-flow model HP 600 with a 24-inch planing width will mill approximately 18 to 20 feet of pavement a minute."

Bradco's cold planer attachments clip onto the skid steer like a bucket and clamp into place. The HP Series requires the skid steer to be equipped with high-flow hydraulics. The company also makes a standard flow model in a 12-inch planing width.

Zanetis Power Attachments located in Indiana also manufactures cold planer models with 16- through 40-inch cutting widths. The 16L and 18L models can be equipped with an optional lateral milling feature, which pivots the planer head 90 degrees. "The feature allows the skid steer to remain in the same lane where the work is being done," explains engineering manager Joel Nicoson. "It also can be beneficial when milling into corners." He notes that the feature is available in electric over hydraulic controls from the cab, or manual hydraulic controls via a valvestack mounted on an arm that swings into the cab. Says Nicoson, "With the electro-hydraulic system, the operator can keep his hand on the skid steer's joystick while making lateral grade or depth adjustments."

With cutting depths of up to eight inches, Zanetis cold planers mill deeper than others in the industry. Nicoson says this is especially advantageous when milling for utility cuts or soil stabilization through several layers of pavement. Other Zanetis exclusives include a large hood that exposes the front and side of the cutting drum for tooth inspection and replacement. Adds Nicoson, "Another nifty maintenance feature is our tooth locator system similar to those found on larger, self-propelled planers. The tooth holders have dowel pins that fit into holes on the drum blocks. The system relocates the position of the tooth and holder in the cutting pattern, reducing guesswork and labor when replacing worn or missing holders."

Models are also equipped with replaceable wear skis that help to maintain grade if the wheels at the front and rear of the housing drop into a cut.

Heavy lifting

If the application at hand requires removing material in a more dramatic and decisive fashion, then you may want to attach a Slab Crab® to your skid steer, backhoe, or excavator. Manufactured by Pennsylvania-based Kenco, this attachment is designed to quickly and easily remove slabs of concrete or large pieces of asphalt, making it ideal for sidewalk and driveway repair.

"Removal of concrete has never been easier," says Kenco operations manager Tracy Black. "Just slide the Slab Crab teeth under the slab, and lift slightly to break the bond. Tilt it back to secure the slab, and place it directly on a waiting truck."

As Black points out, the Slab Crab's tapered mouth locks the slab into place, allowing for its quick and safe removal. Another nice feature, he adds, is the attachment's flat, tapered bottom that eliminates damage to the sub base. There is little cleanup and operators can move literally tons of concrete in minutes.

Kenco specializes in manufacturing lifting attachments. The Slab Crab is available in 15 standard models to handle slabs 4 inches to 10 inches thick, but it can also be custom built to fit nearly any machine.

Because it's quicker and easier to use than a crane or grapple, the Slab Crab offers pavement contractors the best of two worlds, a way to get more work out of a skid-steer, backhoe, or excavator while at the same time increasing job productivity.

Prep work, too

There's no rest for the weary, either, especially for your now multi-tasking skid-steer. With a few more attachments from Wisconsin-based CE Attachments, you can transform your machine into a vibratory roller, trench filler, land leveler, or compaction plate. There's even an EDGE grader ideal for re-shouldering, sub-grading, and preparation for paving.

The EDGE grader easily hitches to the front of a skid-steer with a universal mount, hoses, and flat-faced hydraulic couplers, all included. Among features is an 8-foot blade, in-cab remote control to change settings directly from the operator's seat, and large tires for better maneuverability and flotation.

For precise grade control, the EDGE grader (with optional laser poles) can be equipped with a laser system that includes a transmitter, receivers, and installation kit. The laser system saves time and materials by automatically adjusting to the proper grade. With this setup, there is no need for the operator to do anything but move the grader, which means little operator training required to get an area to grade.

CE Attachments promotes having "Every Attachment for Every Job." For pavement contractors and pavement maintenance contractors, the statement is very enlightening. There probably is an attachment for every job in your application arsenal. Your operation may not be big enough to support a dedicated grader or self-propelled planer, or maybe the demand for more specialized equipment is just not worth the investment. Either way, having the ability to transform a machine so it can step into another role is good for you, your customer, and your bottom line.

Based in Neenah, WI, Rod Dickens is a freelance writer specializing in the construction industry.

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