Backhoes to the Future

July 28, 2020

Today’s mid-range backhoes are offering more versatility than ever before, with enhanced technology that drives performance and lowers operating costs.

Case in point: the Kubota tractor loader backhoe (TLB) is “essentially three machines in one, capable of performing front loader, backhoe, and tractor work and supported by an integrated main frame for increased durability,” says Jeff Jacobsmeyer, Kubota product manager for excavators, wheel loaders, and TLBs.

Kubota’s TLB lineup currently features three machines: the B26TLB with 24.3 hp, the L47 with 47.1 hp, and the M62 with 63 hp.

The benefit of Kubota’s compact TLBs is versatility, notes Jacobsmeyer.

“Kubota TLBs have an integrated frame to stand up to the heavy-duty demands of construction applications while offering the ability to convert to a loader landscaper tractor with a true 540 power take-off to drive rear attachments,” says Jacobsmeyer, adding that larger TLBs do not have this ability.

End-users will find value in the versatility of the Kubota TLB since it is not only a TLB, says Jacobsmeyer, pointing out that one machine has the capability of replacing two or more.  

“All models of the Kubota’s TLB line have the versatility of removing the backhoe and installing a three-point hitch option,” he says. “This three-point hitch will allow the use of any type of three-point mounted equipment commonly used on tractors today. This allows a box blade, angle blade, mower, and many more items to be operated from the rear of the tractor, meaning it can be used for many different applications.”

The L47 and M62 host many interior upgrades aimed at increasing functionality and optimizing operator comfort, he says.

“In both models, the clutch pedal has been eliminated, thereby allowing the brake pedal to be relocated to the left side of the cab, reducing interior clutter and simplifying driver operation,” notes Jacobsmeyer.

“Foot space on the backhoe platform has been increased 27% over the previous models, providing the operator with a roomier work area,” he adds. “A new throttle-up switch increases engine RPM while holding vehicle speed steady for those times when extra power is required for front loader work but vehicle speed needs to remain constant, and the electronic throttle lever and PTO switch require less physical effort to engage than older mechanical controls.”

The Kubota L47 and M62 TLBs are designed to meet the needs of the construction, landscaping, and rental sectors.

Both have been designed to be more powerful than their predecessors and comply with Tier 4 Final emissions regulations, notes Jacobsmeyer.

“An optional hydraulic coupler, available on both models, enables easy attachment and detachment of auxiliary implements,” he says. “The M62 has a 14-foot maximum digging depth, a 17% improvement over the previous model. Also, the backhoe features a quick coupler system for a fast exchange of buckets and a four-point rear mounting system allows the backhoe to be easily removed and reattached.”

Kubota's B26TLB utility tractor is designed to offer maximum versatility for construction to landscaping. It features a 24.3 hp Kubota diesel engine, standard 4WD, and sloped loader arms and hood designed for improved visibility on the work site.  

From CASE comes the CASE N Series, which includes a variety of mid-size backhoes ranging in horsepower from 74 to 110 hp. Models include the 580N, 580 Super N, 580 Super N WT (wide track), and 590 Super N. 

The CASE 580N EP backhoe loader is a lower-horsepower version of the 580N backhoe that maintains the same lift capacity and breakout force with greater fuel efficiency and a maintenance-free Tier 4 Final solution.

“CASE has a long legacy with backhoe loaders and we’ve continued to make improvements over the years to make sure that the equipment’s capabilities continue to meet the needs of today’s contractors,” says Ed Brenton, product marketing manager, backhoe loaders, CASE Construction Equipment.

Brenton points out that the 2019 CASE N Series backhoe loaders have been updated with several enhancements designed to improve performance and productivity on the job site, including new PowerBoost functionality, a new PowerDrive transmission upgrade with Direct Drive, and a factory-installed thumb designed to make backhoe operation increasingly versatile.

New CASE N Series backhoes also feature updates to loader controls, including a new declutch trigger, new roller/rocker switch for better attachment control, and a new F-N-R thumb switch for simplified operation.

PowerBoost is a new button on the left-hand backhoe joystick that provides the operator with a momentary boost of increased hydraulic power without decreasing engine RPM so as not to affect speed/cycle times, says Brenton.

“This feature is ideal for digging through tough conditions, including hard clay, rock, and frost. CASE backhoes still feature PowerLift, which provides added lifting power comparable with some mid-sized excavators at lower engine RPM to provide powerful and smooth lifting and craning operations,” he adds.

More options come from JCB. The company’s three mid-range backhoe loader models require no diesel exhaust fluid (DEF) or diesel particulate filter (DPF) to meet Tier 4 Final emissions standards, making them the ideal choice for those who value lower operating costs, simplified maintenance requirements, and maximum uptime, notes Diego Butzke, product manager for backhoe loaders at JCB North America.

The smallest of JCB’s mid-range backhoe loaders is the 3CX COMPACT, which has a 35% smaller footprint than a conventional, full-size backhoe and is powered by a JCB by Kohler 74 hp engine.

The 3CX is equipped with the JCB EcoMAX 74 hp engine and is among the easiest to use and least costly to own, notes Butzke.

The 3CX-14­­—also powered by the JCB EcoMAX 74 hp engine—offers improved comfort and functionality.

JCB’s three mid-range backhoe loader models are the ideal choice for contractors who value lower operating costs, simplified maintenance requirements, and maximum uptime, as they require no DEF or DPF, Butzke points out.

“Also, JCB’s mid-range machines are loaded with features from our full-size backhoes, resulting in higher performance and better value,” he adds. “Owners of JCB’s 3CX COMPACT enjoy the additional benefit of a machine with a 35% smaller footprint and improved maneuverability, which is important for working on confined job sites.”

Versatility comes into play in that the JCB 3CX COMPACT features a skid-steer quick hitch with hydraulic couplings to allow the machine to engage and use any skid-steer attachments, designed to greatly improve versatility, Butzke says.

“The JCB 3CX and 3CX-14 offer high hydraulic flow to operate power-hungry attachments on the loader and excavator ends,” he adds.