In part 1 of this series on advances in compact track loader designs, the editors at Equipment Today asked leading suppliers of compact track loaders (CTLs) to describe the biggest design changes they've seen in compact track loaders over the past 3 to 5 years, as well as the most notable advances their company has made in the designs of their machines. Here are their responses:
David Steger, product and training manager, Takeuchi: In the past three to five years, the industry has seen a number of changes in the market – most notably, an increase in creature comfort features and a tighter focus on the costs associated with the machine (operating, maintenance and owning cost).
Many customers expect to be comfortable yet productive while operating their compact track loaders. Takeuchi has responded by offering a number of class-leading features, such as the superior quality high back suspension seat with three adjustable height settings, along with adjustments for suspension feel, backrest angle and fore and aft position. The unique height settings allow better visibility to the attachment while offering better leg comfort for the operator. The retractable seatbelt keeps the belt where it is easy to reach and its comfortable fit can help promote the use of the seatbelt.
Other standard features of the Takeuchi compact track loader include both a hand throttle and foot throttle, which can be used together to improve the fuel economy of the machine while making it easier to operate when performing jobs that require a lot of precision and finesse. The proportionally controlled auxiliary hydraulics system allows easy control of the attachment and also provides a continuous mode and one-way mode on all models along with an option high-flow auxiliary hydraulic circuit (TL240 and TL250) to expand the types of attachments the machine can operate. For even more attachment versatility, all Takeuchi compact track loaders come complete with a multi-function control handle and 14-pin electrical connector for controlling attachments that require both electrical and hydraulic operation.
We have also experienced an increasing trend for customers to purchase more machines with fully enclosed cabs, so we took this one step further. If you choose the enclosed cab option at Takeuchi, you receive a fully appointed deluxe cab that includes a high capacity HVAC (Heating, Ventilation and Air Conditioning) system along with a roll-up front door and sliding side windows. To top this off we also provide a hydraulic "Quick Hitch" that allows the operator to change attachments (buckets, forks, etc.) from the comfort and safety of the cab (standard on cab machines and optional on open canopy units). All of these features are a direct result of customer requests and market demand.
One lesson everyone learned (some the hard way) is to keep close tabs on everything coming in and going out. As a result, contactors are more focused on the total cost of ownership than they have ever been before, and this is where the durability of the Takeuchi product really shines. Durability is not a specification found in the machines literature, nor can you always see the full extent of the machine's durability just by a quick glance. But once you closely evaluate all that Takeuchi has to offer, it is easy to understand when we say Takeuchi is "The Power of Product and Support" - from its superior components, to its robust frame made from thick steel and a fully welded undercarriage with integrated crossmembers.
The undercarriage is a large portion of the total operating expense on any compact track loader, so the combination of durable components and a leading design found in the Takeuchi lineup, together with the proper use and maintenance of the undercarriage by the operator, can be very rewarding to the customer's bottom line though longer life and reduced maintenance cost.