Another feature that can increase the speed is the two-speed transmission. “Most applications involve a ‘load and carry’ type application, such as traversing a larger jobsite with material or retrieving material from a central location to use in a different location,” says Coleman. “In either case, it’s not necessarily all about top speed as much as it is about ‘usable’ speed.” This is where ride control becomes an important option.
A two-speed transmission improves cycle times to get the job done faster. “I would not even consider owning a machine without two speed,” says Kaiser. “Adding ride control makes it even more of a production multiplier.”
Self leveling Benefits
Optional hydraulic bucket positioning keeps your bucket level when raising the lift arms, reducing spillage and allowing you to work more efficiently. Contractors are divided on the value of this option.
“My TR320 came with this option. It was bundled with other options, otherwise I would not likely pay for it,” Kaiser states. “If you are on flat ground loading trucks, it’s a feature that can help the new operator. If you are not on flat ground, you have to adjust the tilt on the bucket to compensate anyway. So it’s nice to have, but I don’t go out of my way to spec it on a new machine.”
The value you place on this option really depends on how you plan to use the skid steer. “Contractors who load trucks, load material into hoppers and lift materials with pallet forks will realize the benefits of self leveling,” says Fitzgerald. If you move dirt or run attachments at ground level, it’s less of an advantage. “If you utilize ground-engaging attachments for a significant portion of the time you run the machine, it is not as critical to have self leveling.”
“One-way hydraulic self leveling can be especially helpful in applications requiring the use of forks and grapples, where you can work more quickly if the load stays level,” says O’Brien. “Self leveling helps boost the efficiency of snow removal applications because it eliminates the need for constant adjustment of the blade or other snow-fighting attachments.”
Really investigate the available machine control systems. “Advanced controls provide the ability to adjust the implement response as well as the drive system response,” says Coleman.
The adjustable implement control response allows you to match the speed of the implement systems to meet your need for a specific job, operating condition and/or work tool. The drive control response selections provide the ability to customize the hystat drive response to match your preference, experience level and application requirements.
“Additionally, the machine speed control (creep control) allows you to find the optimal match between machine hydraulics, ground/operating conditions and work tool performance,” Coleman notes. “This reduces operator fatigue and provides a better finished product.”
The Bobcat Deluxe Instrumentation Panel option closely monitors key loader functions and allows Bobcat machines to utilize keyless start, which helps to prevent theft. “With keyless start, you can have an owner code and individual user codes,” says Fitzgerald. “The machine logs when each individual operator is running and how many hours.”
The deluxe instrument panel provides a wealth of additional information, including fuel consumption in gallons per hour, engine temperature and hydraulic temperatures and pressures. “It will allow you to turn on and off certain features,” says Fitzgerald. “If an owner doesn’t want operators running the two speed because it is a tight jobsite, he can actually turn that off and lock it.”
It can also enable you to monitor and adjust machine and attachment performance. According to Fitzgerald, a grader attachment with a laser system is a good example. Grade information is fed back to the Deluxe Instrumentation Panel. “You can adjust grade and slope from inside the cab,” he points out. “It displays where you are so you can adjust accordingly.”
The optional Bobcat Attachment Control Device enables the loader and attachment to communicate. “Some attachments actually tell the machine which attachment it is and whether it should be run on high flow or not,” says Fitzgerald. “The operator can run the machine and the attachment without ever removing his hands from the control levers.”