Case’s Alpha series offers an enhanced high-flow option that increases pressure. “This gives me the ability to tailor the hydraulic output to the attachment,” says Kaiser. “Some attachments, even though they are high-flow compatible, may not be able to handle the 4,000- to 5,000-psi ratings these new machines put out. I can toggle between the systems from a switch in the cab. The normal high flow (3,000 psi) does well with snow blowers and rotary mowers, and the enhanced system (4,000+ psi) is more adept in the high-demand attachments such as a mulcher.”
Such options further expand machine capabilities. “The Case Alpha Series skid steers offer several choices for auxiliary hydraulics, any of which can dramatically increase the machine’s versatility by powering multiple hydraulic attachments,” says O’Brien. “To help customers do more with their skid steers, we help them match their preferred options and attachments with the right optional auxiliary hydraulic systems.”
Creature Comforts Keep Operators Productive
Options that increase operator comfort, safety and productivity are gaining in popularity. One example is the enclosed cab. “Over 60% of Case customers order skid steers with cabs,” says O’Brien. “Heat is standard with our cabs, and about half of the machines we sell with cabs are equipped with air conditioning.”
Kaiser adds, “The more comfortable the machine is to run, the better the final product, especially toward the end of the day. Every machine that I order comes with enclosed cabs, the best seat options available, hydraulic couplers and a radio. The new pressurized cabs have made life much more pleasant.
“The reality about these add-on features is although they increase the price of the machine, you get a lot of the initial cost back at trade-in time,” he points out. “So when you look at what it really costs to add those comfort features to a new machine and the benefit they provide, it makes the decision easy for me.”
The cabs on many skid steers now rival their counterparts in larger equipment with heat/air conditioning, sound systems and air ride seats. “Pressurized cabs have become the industry standard,” says Kaiser. “When effectively integrated along with cab filtration, it has made spending long days in dirty environments much easier.”
Case machines can be ordered with an aspirator kit. “Operating in the high desert conditions like we do, the aspirator has become priceless,” says Kaiser. “The aspirator pulls dirt from the air filter and ducts it out the exhaust. It’s an option that saves a lot of money in replacing air filters.”
Bobcat also offers sound reduction packages that are popular in enclosed cab models. “When people purchase the enclosed cab with air conditioning, they inherently select sound reduction as part of a package to keep operators comfortable,” says Fitzgerald.
Along with the trend toward cabs, air ride seats have become popular. “An air ride seat is an extremely economical way to increase the comfort of a skid-steer loader,” says Jeffords. “An owner-operator will almost always add the extra option. If it will allow an operator the ability to stay in the machine longer without fatigue, the cost is easily justifiable.”
When You Need More Speed
Ride control provides a smoother ride, minimizes material spillage and allows faster travel when you work on uneven ground. A lift circuit accumulator acts as a shock absorber to remove the bounce and reduce shock load on the machine.
Case was a pioneer in the development of Ride Control. “It is most advantageous in applications that require repetitive movement of materials across large jobsites and uneven work surfaces, as well as in applications in which the machine does a large amount of travel, with or without a load,” says O’Brien.
“I have been ordering machines with ride control since Case introduced it in the late ’90s,” says Kaiser. “It’s as important to productivity as the two-speed [transmission]. When the two options are combined, it can significantly increase productivity. You can run faster, not wear out the operator and keep more material in the bucket or on the forks.”
Caterpillar offers Speed Sensitive Ride Control, which engages automatically when the skid steer reaches the activation speed, and deactivates when you slow down to dump into a truck or dig into a pile. “The ride control allows better material (bucket) retention as well as a smoother, more comfortable ride for the operator, which allows utilization of all the machine speed,” says Coleman.