Test Drives


Independently Test Driven by Earthmoving Equipment Magazine

In life, there are no short cuts. In order to master a skill, you’ve got to do the work. The more you practice something and the longer you work at it, the better you will undoubtedly become. Like operating a skid steer loader for example, remember how bad you were the first time you got in one? I do.

The same principles apply to the manufacture of machinery, on a much larger scale. If sheer volume of units produced is anything to go by, then Bobcat Company is right up the pointy end of the skid steer loader market. Early last year, Bobcat celebrated their millionth skid steer loader produced, over a period spanning nearly six decades. A milestone well worth celebrating.

EEM tested the new Bobcat® T590 Compact Track Loader. Just like its predecessor the T190, the all-new T590 is powered by a 66hp engine; it just transmits that power to the ground more efficiently through an improved control valve design. With an operating weight of 3800kg, the T590 has excellent power-to-weight ratio. The T590 offers numerous advantages when comparing not only to previous Bobcat Company models, but also the competitive OEMs.

With the T590, it is apparent that the Bobcat Company has addressed all the main issues you would have experienced if you’ve ever climbed into a skid steer loader:

  • Accessibility to the operator’s station
  • Visibility to the work tool, as well as the immediate area
  • Operator fatigue and its factors; noise, ergonomics, comfort, and space in the cabin
  • The ability of the machine to efficiently respond to the operators inputs
  • Dust ingress

To start with, the front door has now been made larger and lower, making it not only easier to get in and out, but also safer. This has also increased visibility to the work tool and immediate work zone. The cab has also been shifted further forward, bringing the operator’s line of sight nearer to the front of the machine, vastly expanding the range of vision. The rear cabin and overhead windows also received an overhaul, with significant increases in area. This not only improves safety, but gives a sense of confidence in your surroundings, allowing you to work more efficiently. The cabin is also pressurised to just above atmospheric, in order to push dust particles away from door and window openings. This aids not only in keeping the cabin clean, but also preventing inhalation of airborne contaminants. The operator’s station on the T590 is also pleasantly quiet in comparison to other compact equipment I’ve encountered. Reportedly, the noise levels in the cabin are down 60 per cent on the previous T190 machine. This is due in part to the redesigned, hydraulically driven engine-cooling fan, which varies speed and engine load according to the machine temperature, reducing load and fuel consumption.

From an operational perspective, the T590 gets on with the job. Implements and attachments are easy to control via the pilot joystick controls and “fingertip control” switches. The option to switch between ISO and H pattern at the flick of a switch further enhances the versatility of this machine. I have never met anyone who is equally as comfortable with either ISO or H pattern, the ability to select between them is a ‘must have’ in my opinion. Monitoring of critical parameters is made easy via a new 4.6-inch LED screen with full colour capability. The screen is bright and easy to read in the full light of day and clearly displays all critical perimeters at a glance.

The vertical lift loader frame has also received an overhaul, not only to increase durability but to make provision for a wider operator’s cabin and increased elbow room. Operator comfort is further maximised with the T590 through a combination of hydraulic ride-control functionality, roller track frame suspension and an air-operated seat. The stability offered by the long track frame further improves ride quality and minimises any impact transmitted through to the operator. The machine was very responsive yet forgiving through the controls. Whether operating at full RPM or at any point through the rev range, the hydraulics are seamlessly matched to engine output.

One feature of the T590 that really impressed me is the optional Radio Remote Control capabilities. Bobcat Company is the only OEM in the market offering the ability to operate the machine without actually being in the machine. Now that this technology is proven and available, the benefits of remote control technology are becoming apparent. Bobcat Company has this market cornered.

Accessibility for maintenance is made easy via the rear-swinging enclosure and the lift-up cab design. Although compact, everything is positioned for easy access to streamline maintenance activities. Paint quality and coverage is excellent, with a high gloss finish and a decal package that compliments the colour scheme. Overall the T590 is finished to the standard that you have come to expect from the Bobcat Company. With over 1,000,000 units produced, you know they’ve learnt the hard lessons and built the quality into their product in order to minimise the occurrence of warranty claims.

The full Bobcat Company product line is distributed in Australia by the Clark Equipment dealership network. With proven back-up and a commitment to personalised service and customer focus, you’re in good hands with Clark Equipment, the Bobcat experts. With branches strategically located to service all major centres, there’s a Clark representative near you.

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