What would (construction) life be like without buckets? Hard to imagine, right? Fortunately, today there are certain buckets available on the market that make life even easier. That said, there are features and advancements to be aware of when choosing the right bucket for your machine and application. In this blog, we are going to talk about buckets for two machine groups in particular: loaders and mini excavators.
Loader Buckets – Features and Advancements:
In production-oriented applications, such as truck loading, stockpiling or load-and-carry, material retention is crucial to getting the job done in an efficient manner. Therefore, it is important to use buckets with design elements specifically geared to gaining optimal material retention, such as:
Wide throat openings create more space between the cutting edge and the spill guard to improve heap size and fill factor.
Long bucket floors provide more surface for entering material before encountering the radius at the back of the bucket to allow the bucket to take a bigger bite of the pile.
Curved side bars add surface area to the side of the bucket to help funnel more material into the bucket and better contain that material.
Strike planes are a geometric aspect between the machine linkage and bucket and an aggressive rack angle of a bucket in its carry position improves load retention.
Spill guards funnel material away from critical components such as linkage pins, hydraulic cylinders and sensors for improved longevity.
Some advanced equipment manufacturers are engineering these features on a variety of loader bucket styles, including general-purpose, light-material, sand/gravel, and material-handling buckets. These buckets offer improved performance, providing increased productivity and fuel efficiency for a large range of applications, including:
Easier, faster loading resulting in much faster cycle times;
Optimal containment of material during transport;
Significantly increased fill factors, resulting in fewer passes per truck and more truck loads per day;
And enhanced sight lines to the pile and into the bucket, allowing operators to easily determine when the bucket is full.
Mini Excavator Buckets – Features and Advancements:
With mini excavators, breakout force is key since many applications involve—you guessed it—digging. Whether you are digging a trench to put in piping or digging out a house foundation, you have to have enough power between the machine and the bucket to penetrate the ground. With this in mind, there are several considerations to make when choosing the right bucket for the application, including:
Bucket capacity and width: Some advanced manufacturers are now engineering heavy duty capacity buckets to help operators complete digging applications at much faster rates. It is important to consider the mini excavator’s size and lift capacity before selecting this type of bucket. Additionally, buckets with smooth moldboards will help you load more material in each pass—this is especially helpful when cleaning out trenches.
Bucket strength and thickness: This is especially important in applications that involve digging in rocky terrain. Look for a bucket with extra wear plates attached to the sides and bottom—these will provide added protection and help extend the life of the attachment.
Strength of the bucket teeth: For heavier duty applications and/or digging in tough terrain, look for a bucket with weld-on teeth versus bolted.
Side cutters: This optional feature attaches to the front of the bucket and allows operators to straighten the sides of a trench, without the disturbing the trench bottom.
Quick couplers: Allow operators to spend more time on the tasks at hand and less time changing out attachments. Some advanced manufacturers offer tilt couplers, which provide 180 degree rotation and give operators the ability to get in places they usually couldn’t with a normal coupler or pin-on arrangement.
As you can see, there is a lot to evaluate when choosing the right bucket for the job. Hopefully this blog helped you prioritize the features to look for in your next loader or mini excavator bucket purchase. To learn more about bucket features and advancements, contact your local Cat® dealer and/or research options at Cat Mini Excavator Buckets or Cat Loader Buckets.
We’d like to hear about the features you look for in buckets and how you utilize them on the jobsite.
Do you currently face material retention or handling challenges in your applications? If so, what type of challenges?
Which type of buckets do you most often utilize on the jobsite? On your mini excavator? On your loader?
What measures do you take to help extend the life of your buckets and other attachments?
Do you look for design elements that improve the durability of your attachments?
Which bucket features do you typically look for to help improve material retention?
Are there certain bucket features or configurations that you wish were available on the market today to help improve material retention and/or other job related tasks?
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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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.
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