Five ways to evaluate your next purchase
Selecting the right wheel loader for general construction and site preparation hinges on pairing its capabilities to these applications and their demanding conditions. Whether you’re clearing debris and vegetation, stabilizing base material for future utility and pavement installations, or performing demolition activities, you need durable equipment with the capacity to match the type of work you’re routinely performing.
“The key topic in a wheel loader purchase is knowing what work you’ll do with it,” says Shane Reardon, Doosan wheel loader product specialist, “and then specifying a machine that will not only deliver performance but will be supported for long-term satisfaction.”
Reardon offers the following checklist of factors to consider when specifying a wheel loader to perform commercial, residential, or industrial construction and site prep work.
- Material density determines bucket choice:
Because a wheel loader’s bucket is typically its biggest revenue generator, its size and capacity are important; but what it carries actually matters more than you may think. For instance, a bucket properly matched to its material and partnered with adequate lift capacity and dump height could reduce the number of passes needed to fill trucks or stockpile. Therefore, the first step to determining bucket size is not the size of the machine, but rather it’s the density of the material it will haul.“There is a tendency for contractors to buy the size of machine they think they need and use a standard bucket,” says Chad Ellis, Doosan product manager. This mindset can negatively impact productivity. “Before you even select a machine, it’s important to first determine daily production targets. The next step is to look at the density of the material and match it to the size and capacity of a bucket, and then look at the machine needed to get that job done,” Ellis says. He points out that while contractors may be working with multiple material densities—sand one day, rock the next—it’s important to spec the bucket based on the heaviest material it will handle.
- Durable designs increase reliability:
Durability is demanded on all jobsites, but is particularly significant when machines are performing initial site preparation, such as clearing a forest or wooded area. The brush and vegetation that wheel loaders encounter in this rigorous application require machines to be engineered and manufactured to protect hydraulic hoses and other important components. Additional precautions may need to be incorporated, such as under guards and shields for front glass and lights. Ellis says uptime and productivity can be further increased in those conditions by matching tires to withstand the rugged conditions. “Determine if a more aggressive tread or wider tire for flotation is needed to increase productivity in these applications. Also, determine if a certain type of tire fill is needed to increase uptime,” Ellis says.
- Attachments expand versatility:
The key to getting the most productivity from a wheel loader is the investment in a quality attachment quick-change mechanism, which is optional on most manufacturers’ machines. Many of the efficiencies are gained from operators being able to rapidly change attachments with a quick coupler from the comfort and security of a cab. Additionally, some coupler systems have been designed to eliminate greasing, requiring less maintenance and fewer replacement parts. Loader-specific attachments have turned these heavy-duty machines into valuable assets with capabilities in construction and site prep with their range from general, all-purpose material handling buckets to heavy rock buckets for more serious applications. Wheel loaders can also be fitted with pallet forks and grapples.
- Power and efficiency drive productivity:
Wheel loader productivity can be defined a number of ways, but two of the most common metrics are machine horsepower and lifting capacity. Optimum hydraulic performance improves cycle times, leading to increased productivity. “Breakout force on a site prep or construction job has a direct tie to productivity, because the easier and more proficiently a machine can fill a bucket, the higher the productivity rate,” says Ellis. Additionally, as fuel continues to be a significant factor in operational costs, construction customers gravitate to fuel-efficient equipment that will run a full shift before refueling, preferring to schedule full-fleet refills.
- Support builds long-term satisfaction:
A committed dealer can recommend a parts stocking list for frequently used wear parts. That commitment should also be demonstrated through an OEM’s ability to quickly provide parts that the dealer may not have on hand or regularly stock. “These can be pretty intense applications, so dealer support and parts availability are definitely key aspects to consider,” Ellis says. With a growing emphasis on the Environmental Protection Agency’s emissions standards with interim Tier 4 (iT4) regulations designed to reduce nitrogen oxides (NOx) and particulate matter (PM), it’s more critical than ever to follow wheel loader manufacturers’ guidelines for service intervals. On some machines, it will also be critical to strictly adhere to the proper use of specially formulated API CJ-4 engine oil and ultra-low-sulfur diesel (ULSD) fuel to avoid costly repairs. “Dealerships will be the most knowledgeable and qualified to meet iT4 technologies and their maintenance requirements,” Ellis says.
Ellis recommends one final piece of advice to contractors considering wheel loaders: “Make sure you’re not just buying the same thing you’ve always bought. Take the time to fully evaluate each purchase,” Ellis says. He adds that OEMs understand the magnitude of an owner’s equipment investment.
“Customers should look at the total cost of ownership from maintenance and fuel efficiency to the overall production of the machine,” Ellis concludes.
For More Information:
For more information on selecting your next wheel loader, contact Doosan Infracore Construction Equipment America at www.doosanequipment.com.
Modern Contractor Solutions, March 2013
Did you enjoy this article?
Subscribe to the FREE Digital Edition of Modern Contractor Solutions magazine.