Tips on choosing the best wheel loader for your operation

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Updated: March 17, 2014

Wheel loaders are an essential part of the fleet for organisations like councils or waste management facilities, but choosing the right model can be challenging, according to Greg Sealey, National Product Manager, Materials Handling Manager for JCB Construction Equipment Australia.

“There are many factors to consider when choosing a wheel loader or developing tender documents. Some of them may sound obvious, but taking into account all the relevant considerations can mean the difference between choosing a machine that does exactly what you need it to, and choosing one that causes all sorts of headaches,” Greg said.

Greg says the first thing to do is ensure you’re clear on the applications you’ll use the wheel loader for.

“The right machine will depend on the task it needs to do. You should also think about the location. How often will the wheel loader need to be transported, and how far?”

“If you’re going to be moving the wheel loader by road, think about transport width of the machine and any attachment. Choosing an overwidth option can create big headaches if you’re frequently moving between sites.”

If you’re doing significant road travel or the machine will be working in different sections of a large site, Greg says a Powershift transmission may be a better option.

“Think also about the diversity of work the machine will do. If it will be constantly switching between tasks, you’ll want a tool carrier that makes light work of changing attachments. If it will be using a bucket all the time, you may want to consider a z-bar for optimum breakout force.”

If you work with different materials, Greg says you should spec the bucket based on the heaviest material it will handle.

Durability, support and resale value all matter

Greg says choosing the right brand is not just about getting the features you need at the price you want.

“To get real value you need to look at whole of life costs, including operational costs and resale,” Greg said.

“A bargain buy is not a bargain if it is not up to the job or you can’t sell it when the time comes. Choosing a reputable brand like JCB is the surest way to secure resale value.”

He said a fuel efficient machine, ideally one that can operate a full shift on a tank, can mean big savings, while the latest in emissions management technology will keep emissions down and meet community expectations.

“You might also consider a telematics system like JCB’s Livelink that allows for remote fleet tracking. You’ll know where your equipment is at any moment for improved productivity and increased security.”

Most wheel loaders work in fairly demanding environments, so Greg recommends machines that are designed to protect hydraulic hoses and other components, and protective options like under guards and light shields.

“You want a machine that can cope with the conditions it will work in, and you also need to be sure downtime is minimised if you do have an issue. The support commitment from your supplier should include an ability to quickly provide parts that the dealer may not have on hand or regularly stock, and perhaps the development of a parts stocking list,” Greg said.

Invest in the right attachments

Greg says choosing loader-specific attachments can increase versatility.

“Attachments can help you get more bang for your buck by increasing the range of applications the wheel loader is suited to. All of JCB’s genuine attachments carry a full JCB warranty.

“To make the most of your attachments and maximise productivity, ensure any machine you buy has an automatic quick hitch which is simpler to operate and safer than semi-automatic hitches, which are being phased out in NSW and probably in other states soon.”

For more information about JCB’s wheel loader range, visit jcbcea.com.au