The decision as to which system is better really depends on your application and operators. But if there is a pipe or service in the ground and the operator wants to feel when he reaches it, an open-center-style machine makes it possible, says Blower.
Another advantage of mechanical controls with open-center systems is the use of a full-flow valve block. “If you have 100 gpm in a circuit and you pull one lever, you get 100 gpm going to that one circuit,” Blower states. Or you can have 80 gpm going to the boom and 20 gpm going to the dipper. “You are just juggling levers and putting the flow where you want it.”
Compare this to the flow-sharing valve block where the amount of oil to each cylinder is limited. In the example of the 100 gpm circuit, it may only allow 50 gpm to the boom and 50 gpm to the dipper. “So it is slowing the boom circuit by half. Overall, it’s easier for the operator to multi-function with the flow-sharing valve block, but it slows the cycle time because you can only get 50% flow at any one time.”
To address these trade-offs, JCB gives operators the choice of three distinct control options: manual controls with an open-center system and full-flow valve block; EasyControl servo controls with an open-center circuit and full-flow; and, the most recent innovation, Advanced EasyControl servos with a closed-center circuit and flow-sharing valve blocks.
The EasyControl offers the benefits of manual controls coupled with servos. “We put servos onto a system with open-center to get the feel back and a full-flow valve block to get the speed back,” says Blower. “So you can have the comfort of the servos with faster cycle times. With the Advanced EasyControl, as you spin the seat to face the front, the right-hand control becomes the loader lever, giving a servo-controlled loader, as well.”
Fewer, More Intuitive controls
“Whether you are in the seat of a backhoe all day, or you are jumping in the seat quickly for a few minutes as you complete a task on the jobsite, controls need to be intuitive and easy to operate to provide the most efficient experience,” says Louann Hausner, backhoe-loader product marketing manager, John Deere Construction & Forestry. “The feel of the controls has evolved into being the need for a control that acts as an extension of the operator’s hand, enabling the operator to have multiple functions at their fingertips without searching and reaching within the cab.”
The benefits of smart controls that are ergonomically placed exactly where an operator needs them include increased fuel efficiency and productivity. “Operators can accomplish more in less time with less fuel by having controls [that are] easy to learn and operate,” says Hausner. “With Deere’s loader control eliminating the need for an additional lever and buttons on the side console, operators can focus more attention on the task instead of searching for controls and juggling the coordination of two levers in one hand.”
John Deere offers a variety of controls to accommodate a wide spectrum of users. “Loader controls vary by customer need,” says Hausner. “Regardless if customers are doing the basics and controlling only the two key functions of lift and bucket, or if they are maximizing the use of a multi-purpose loader bucket, Deere offers a single-lever control to meet all needs.”
For example, the new loader control combines two levers into one easy-to-grip control. “This loader control provides additional functionality, including momentary MFWD and proportional auxiliary hydraulic control, which is needed for multi-purpose buckets,” says Hausner. All controls are at your fingertips. “Tire wear is reduced because operators will use MFWD only when needed to get the job done.”
A selection of backhoe controls is also offered. “With mechanical, hydraulically-driven pilots and electrohydraulic controls integrated into the armrests of the seat all available depending upon the model, Deere can provide the variety customers need,” says Hausner.