Prior to JCB’s significant new product announcements in March, JCB products sold in the U.S. were designed for the U.K. and European markets with some modifications to make them acceptable in North America. However, JCB hosted its dealers from more than 32 countries on March 6 and 7 at its Savannah, Georgia, North America headquarters to unveil five new skid steer loader models and three new compact tracked loader models all designed specifically for the U.S. market.
The small-platform machine launch completes the company’s line-up of 17 models. The five small platform rubber-tired models range in rated capacity from 1,500 lbs. to 2,050 lbs. and the three tracked versions range from 1,350 lbs. to 2,050 lbs. The five large platform rubber-tired skid steers range in capacity from 2,250 lbs. to 3,300 lbs. and the four tracked versions also range from 2,250 lbs. to 3,200 lbs. There are separate models equipped with radial lift and vertical lift loader arm geometry to satisfy most application markets, and more than 30 JCB attachments round out the offering.
The company has operated the Savannah factory since 1999 and at various times built tractor loader backhoes and Loadall telescopic handlers as well as the high speed tractor loader backhoe that was designed and built specifically for the U.S. Army and NATO. The major design concession for the North American market was center-mount backhoe loader versus the side-shift mount most common in the U.K.
This new JCB skid steer product line is a complete break-away product from the British-centric mind-set. JCB management felt it best to design and manufacture skid steers and track loaders in Savannah where the market for these machines is centered -- in North America. JCB skid steers were designed in Savannah and are manufactured there with American sourced steel, weldments, parts, and components and with American labor.
The most unique feature on all the models of the new product line is the company’s single lift arm, dubbed the PowerBoom, mounted on the right side of the machine. It is similar in appearance to the lift arm arrangement used in JCB’s telescopic handler product line it calls Loadall. The single boom arm allows the company to put an entry door on the left side of the machine which eliminates the need for the operator to climb over the bucket or whatever attachment is hooked onto the working end of the machine. The JCB side entry also gives the operator much greater visibility around his machine because there is no left loader arm to block his view.
Anyone who has ever operated a skid steer knows visibility is an operator concern when working on a crowded site or in a tight space. With glass all around, the JCB cab can be equipped with factory installed air conditioning. The front window is used as an emergency exit.
As far as we know, this is the only skid steer/compact track loader machine on the market with a single lift arm and a side entry door. JCB claims it is the safest machine like this on the market, and it probably is. However, this unique feature also makes the machine controversial compared with others on the market. Standing back from the machine, it simply looks lop-sided and fragile. However, JCB is quick to point out the single arm has some 20% more steel in it than a twin-arm boom on competitive machines. The single arm saves on lift mechanism parts as well. There is only one hydraulic lift cylinder for example. It also allows the company to design the machine with a tilt-cab for easy servicing, a feature that is problematic on other brands. The electronic-over-hydraulic controls result in everything under that cab being accessible.