Wheel loaders are seen as being the one of the most versatile machines on any site across a range of applications. Whether it’s construction, mining, quarrying or waste, you’ll generally find a wheel loader somewhere playing its part to keep the show going.
Wheel loaders are generally armed with a bucket up front that allows it to pick up and move material, but like most things in this world, loaders have evolved somewhat over the years to extend their versatility to handle forks, sweepers, man baskets, lifting attachments, grapples, a plethora of poweredattachments, and the list goes on!
So, with that being said, this article is going to focus on a wheel loader with a bucket moving material.
Here are 5 tips to becoming a better loader operator:
- BUCKET CONTROL
The main piece of the puzzle of a loader is its bucket. Tame it and you’ll be on your way to enjoying your loader experience. When I say tame it, I mean understand where your cutting edge is. Is it at an aggressive angle that will gauge a hole in what you are doing or is it rolled too far back that the heel of the bucket is contacting the surface and riding up?
In the short term, if you are struggling to understand where your cutting is, place the bucket on the ground, adjust the crowd to where you think the cutting edge is engaging the surface, and get on the ground to see exactly where it’s situated. Return to the cab and pick a reference point to remember it by.
- FILLING THE BUCKET
Loose material is a breeze to load into your bucket. The stuff nearly jumps into the bucket by itself. Tighter material (insitu or poorly fragmented material) on the other hand, not so easy. This is where nailing the technique of “lift before crowd” of the bucket will help you greatly.
Lift before crowd, say what now? What this means is, once your bucket has engaged the material, the first movement you make is lifting the boom up slightly. This will place a little more weight on the front tyres enabling you to have better traction. After you have lifted the bucket, start to crowd the bucket back (don’t pump the bucket!) at a steady pace. Then it is a combination of lifting and crowding until you have filled the bucket.
- IN THE DIG
So, we have covered off how to manage the bucket. Let’s talk about some of the other tips and tricks in the dig that help to kick a few goals.
• Keep a straight frame (not articulated) when bucket loading. This will keep all your energy moving forward not sideways
• When in 1st gear, be smooth, steady, speed and at high idle. Downshifting in the dig leads to shock loading of driveline components
• Engage the cutting edge on the ground approximately 500mm before pile. This helps to avoid unnecessary wearing of G.E.T
• Correct bucket angle – keep heal off floor. This will reduce fuel burn and increase cycle time
- TRUCK LOADING
As a loader operator, when loading trucks, you have to own the space. You dictate where the truck spots in to be loaded. Further recommendations are as follows:
• Work the face left to right and create a pocket for the truck to reverse into
• Position truck at 45° to face
• Travel no further then 1 ½ tyre revolutions (less is even better!) from the material to the truck. This makes for more efficient cycle times which = move material moved.
• Work face 1½ – 2 buckets wide
• Center the load on the truck
Being an articulated machine that’s center of gravity changes when articulated (compounded by undulated ground), be bloody careful where and how high you have the bucket when articulated – play it safe!
If the ground you’re about to work the loader on is not ideal, spend the time to make it ideal.
Thanks for a great year and have a fantastic Christmas and Happy New Year!