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Excavators and Backhoe-loaders: Designed to Lift

Because equipment suppliers recognize that excavators and backhoe-loaders may be used in craning applications, many are adding features to facilitate these tasks.

For example, Caterpillar excavators include lifting points from the bucket, coupler and the Powerlink, which provides multiple points for lifting in different applications. “All locations provide exceptional lifting capabilities when needed in the applications,” says Kent Pellegrini, product application specialist, excavators, Caterpillar Inc. “Lifting from the Powerlink provides more rotation when breaking trench boxes from the ground or when more rotation is needed to set a pipe into position.”

For its backhoe-loaders, Cat builds in load-sensing hydraulic systems, which deliver full lifting forces at any engine speed. “This allows operators to perform their lifting work at lower engine speeds and can be a huge benefit in communicating with other workers in the area,” Kevin Hershberger, senior market professional, backhoe-loaders, Caterpillar, points out.

Case backhoe-loaders incorporate PowerLift, which increases lifting capacity with a push of a button. “This feature also decreases the rpms of the engine to ensure smooth lifting and more ability to hear the spotter,” says Katie Pullen, brand marketing manager for Case backhoe-loaders. “We have also redesigned the boom to support that added capacity.”

John Deere backhoe-loaders feature pressure-compensated, load-sensing hydraulics for fuel efficiency in high-pressure, low-flow applications such as lifting, as well as an auto idle feature. “It automatically brings the machine to a low idle when the hydraulics are disengaged, providing the operator with a quieter environment to communicate with co-workers on the ground,” says Louann Hausner, backhoe-loaders and tractor-loaders marketing manager, John Deere Construction & Forestry.

Options can further customize the machines for lifting tasks. For example, excavators are available with a hose burst check valve. “Contractors should consider adding [a hose burst check valve] if they plan on doing much lifting and placing,” says Case’s Philippe Bisson, brand marketing manager, excavators. “This valve prevents the sudden lowering of the arm and the load in the event of a failure of a hydraulic hose, line or fitting.”

Scales are another useful feature. “These products are often available as optional equipment and take away the guesswork from the operator, especially on a load that may not be labeled with its weight,” says Bisson.

John Deere backhoes can be ordered with optional load lowering kits. “These kits provide the operator with more control when lowering the load,” says Hausner.

And most excavators are available with additional counterweights. ”These can help increase the lifting capacity,” Bisson notes, “and save the contractor the expense of renting or owning larger equipment if they must occasionally lift loads beyond the standard capacity of the excavator.”