When configuring a wheel loader for purchase or rental, the first thing to consider is the primary applications it will be performing. Will you be utilizing the machine for basic bucket and fork work? If so, how much weight will you be lifting and how high will you need to lift it? In this case, it’s important to take a look at the machine’s full turn static tip load (FTSTL) and lift height. Here’s how these configurations break down:
The FTSTL defines the amount of bucket material weight it will take for the machine to tip when the loader arms are level and the machine is fully articulated.
The rated load for a bucket is 50 percent of the FTSTL, and can be up to 80 percent of the FTSTL for a set of forks. It can guide you as to how much the machine can safely lift while in operation. Depending on the ground condition, you may be able to safely operate the machine at a reduced factor; however, using rated load as a guide is a good starting point.
For example, if you need to be able to lift 6,000 pounds of material in the bucket, you want to select a machine with a 12,000 pound FTSTL and 6,000 pound rated load.
To properly size the bucket on your wheel loader, a simple rule of thumb is to use the rated load (FTSTL/2) divided by the material density. This will give you your target bucket size.
If your application requires loading a truck or hopper with a tall height, you may want to consider a machine with a high lift linkage option or purchasing a rollout bucket to help increase dump height.
Something to keep in mind—a machine with higher horsepower doesn’t translate to a higher FTSTL and vice versa. If the loader is properly designed, horsepower will never translate into higher FTSTL.
If your application requires operation of hydro-mechanical attachments, such as brooms, snow blowers, power box rakes or cold planers, it is important to select a machine with the amount of hydraulic horsepower needed to operate that attachment at maximum performance. Features such as high flow hydraulics or four-valve hydraulics may be needed to run specialty tools.
Dimensional requirements are also important factors to consider, especially if you are working on jobsites with limited space or if you need to transport the machine to multiple sites. For instance, if the jobsite has a tight turning area, a larger wheel loader may not be an option since they have a larger turning radius. Will you be using a trailer to transport the machine to each jobsite? If so, it’s critical to select a wheel loader that fits within the towing capacity of your truck and trailer.
Features That Help Save Time, Reduce Wear and Improve Operator Comfort
So far, we have provided tips on configuring the base wheel loader requirements to match the needs of your application. Additionally, many advanced wheel loaders have special features designed to help reduce owning and operating costs, maximize machine performance and improve operator comfort. These technologies include:
Ride Control – Uses the lift cylinders as shock absorbers for the payload to take bumps out of the road. This provides a more comfortable ride for the operator if your applications require a considerable amount of roading.
Cylinder Snubbing – Slows down the implements before you reach the end of the cylinder stroke, creating a smoother operation and improving efficiency with better material retention.
Rimpull Control – Helps minimize tire spin by allowing you to adjust the torque to match your underfoot conditions.
Programmable Kickouts – Allows the operator to save lift and tilt positions and recall them with a simple motion of the joystick. On advanced wheel loaders this can be done done inside the cab to provide smooth, predictable loader arm movement.
As you can see, there are several base requirements, as well as enhanced features, to consider when configuring a wheel loader that can accomplish the requirements of your workload. To learn more, contact your local Cat® dealer or visit us online.
We’d like to hear about your workload and machine capability needs.
Are you currently deciding between purchasing or renting a wheel loader? If so, which factors are weighing on your decision?
Which application(s) are you performing that require the use of a wheel loader?
Are there certain wheel loader features that you consider valuable to your operation? If so, which ones?
When configuring a machine for rental or purchase, are there certain aspects of the process that have proven to be difficult? Which ones?
What types of resources have you used in the past to configure your machines? Which ones have been most helpful?
What type of resources do you wish were available to you to help configure your machines?
I’m an Attachments Product Application & Sales Support Specialist for Caterpillar in North America. I have been with Caterpillar for five years including roles in the field as a dealer sales support representative and marketing support in the skid steer and small wheel loader product groups. I graduated from Iowa State University with degrees in Agricultural Business and Economics. Our goal is to provide a full portfolio of attachments for our customers to be more productive and versatile with their machines.
I am an Industry and Application Rep for Caterpillar. I graduated from NC State with a dual degree in Agriculture Business Management and Agriculture Science, concentrating in Leadership and Environmental Technologies. I focus primarily on the relationships between customers, dealers, and the product specialists for the Building Construction Products division. Growing up on a tobacco and beef cattle farm, I have several years of machine operation experience and agricultural knowledge. Thomas Jefferson said it best in that, "Agriculture is our wisest pursuit, because it will in the end contribute most to real wealth, good morals, and happiness."
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I’m a Compact Wheel Loader Product Application Specialist for Caterpillar in North America. I have 11 years of experience, including roles in the field as a dealer technical support representative, and as a distributor business model consultant. I graduated from North Carolina State University with a Mechanical Engineering Degree, and wanted a job where I didn't have to sit in front of a computer all day. This job allows me to get out and get my hands dirty, with the goal of providing solutions to customers’ machine needs.
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Jeff Brown is a marketing professional for Caterpillar Skid Steer, Multi Terrain and Compact Track Loaders. Over Jeff's 12 years in the industry, he has visited with and studied the needs of customers across landscaping, construction, and agriculture segments. Delivering innovative solutions that solve customer's problems is Jeff's main focus.
I am a North American Product and Application Specialist for Caterpillar. In this role, I have had the opportunity to represent Caterpillar at various trade shows and train customers on new Small Wheel Loader content. I graduated from Purdue University in 2001 with a Mechanical Engineering degree and have spent the past 15 years with Caterpillar in various engineering roles. Growing up in the Mid-West, I have always loved the cold and the unique activities winter enables. Unfortunately, I had to give those up when I moved to North Carolina. I don't care what people say, you never get used to a hot climate.
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