Big Jobs in Small Spaces

July 21, 2020
The JCB 210 Skid Steer works in close quarters
The JCB 210 Skid Steer works in close quarters

According to the entertainment industry, there are no small roles­—only small actors. So small jobs on a construction site, the kind that need small equipment rather than huge earth-moving behemoths, can be just as critical to the completion of the project. But what type of equipment works best in small spaces? Aside from a man wielding a hand tool or power tool, there are two basic types of equipment used in close confines: the skid-steer loader and the compact track loader. This article will examine their different functions and designs (since form follows function) and the markets where they are most popular (North America or Europe). And since technology never stops advancing, even for small compact pieces of equipment, we will look at how technology has advanced over the past few decades and the recent technological advances and projected performance improvements (telematics, machine control, etc.).

What is a “Small Job”?

Any construction job that requires operating in a tight or small space, moving small quantities of materials, placing these materials in a precise location, or performing precise earthwork jobs would be considered a “small job.” While size matters in regards to overall productivity and cost-effectiveness, the larger bucket loaders, trucks, excavators, and dozers are simply too big and clumsy for many applications.

In many ways, the most useful function of a skid-steer or compact track loader is the simplest: the hauling of materials with a loader bucket attachment. This can include the movement of small quantities of gravel for foundation construction purposes or rocks for decorative landscaping that are too large to be moved by hand or by wheelbarrow. Many different types of loose materials (mulch, hay bales, cement, bricks, etc.) can be transported with a loader bucket.

Similar to the moving of materials is the movement and removal of construction and demolition debris from a work site. Demolition debris tends to be of irregular shape and relatively small size (removed doors, torn down drywall sheets, demolished cabinets, shingles, brickwork, broken concrete, etc.) that need to be hauled out from the current demolition site to a place where it can be safely stockpiled, and hauled away for disposal or recycling. Safety requirements on such a crowded site with men working at close quarters necessitates the use of small maneuverable equipment. Clearing grubbing operations, involving the removal of tree trunks or wood that has been mulched by a chipper, can also be handled by this type of compact equipment.

In addition to the hauling of construction and demolition debris materials, skid-steers and compact track loaders can also directly perform demo operations with the use of demolition shear attachments. These are intended for “soft demolition” of flooring and drywall rather than the demolition of reinforced concrete with heavy-duty shears attached to larger excavators. These shear attachments can also be used directly by clearing and grubbing operations by cutting down medium to small trees and clearing other vegetation.

Digging and grading operations can also be performed by compact equipment that can utilize excavator bucket and dozer blade or bucket attachments. With a backhoe bucket, a skid-steer can dig a foundation or pipe trench and remove and stockpile the dirt. Provided the edge of the loader bucket or dozer blade is wider than the machine itself, compact track loaders and skid-steers make for effective grading equipment. This allows for smooth grading in areas too small to effectively use larger dozers.

A properly equipped skid-steer is very versatile and can be used for a variety of tasks such as road cleaning with a rotary broom attachment, snow removal when equipped with a snowplow, and as portable mulchers, grapples, or tool carriers. It is truly the Swiss army knife of equipment operations.

Skid-Steers vs. Compact Track Loaders

Both compact track loaders and skid-steers share similar characteristics, such as their ability to take on attachments and tackle a wide range of projects. But what separates a skid-steer loader from a compact track loader? For instance, hard and abrasive surfaces are not very rubber track friendly, so the rubber tire machine is better suited for those conditions. In applications where ground disturbance is a consideration, rubber track machines are ideal because their lower ground pressure causes less ground disturbance. It’s also important to point out that track units are more expensive; however, that gap is smaller than it used to be.

According to Lee Padgett, Product Manager at Takeuchi US, “The skid-steer loader (SSL) and the compact track loader (CTL) are designed to operate on different types of surfaces. The skid-steer is primarily used on asphalt and concrete in flatwork applications, and the compact track loader is intended to work on soft, uneven terrain. The track loader provides greater flotation, better traction, and, when purpose-built, more ground clearance (due to the lack of chain cases on the SSL). The SSL and CTL loaders share many common features like cabin design and loader arm configurations. Both SSLs and CTLs have high-flow auxiliary circuits available, making them outstanding platforms to operate a wide variety of hydraulic attachments.”

“In the US, CTLs are responsible for more of the overall market versus the SSL due to the versatility offered through their tracked undercarriage. However, SSLs still hold their place in the market for certain applications like road work where the loader will need to make frequent spin turns on hard surfaces that can cause premature wear on tracks and other undercarriage components. SSL loaders tend to have higher travel speeds as well enabling them to cover longer distances on the job more quickly.”

Gregg Zupancic, product marketing manager of compact track loaders and skid-steer loaders for John Deere Construction & Forestry, concurs: “Besides one machine having tracks, and one machine having wheels, compact track loaders and skid-steer loaders have quite a few differences. Skid-steer loaders are lighter than compact track loaders, which enables them to travel quickly over curbs and maneuver easily in tight spaces. When using a compact track loader, it's important to keep the job site location in mind, as compact track loaders could damage concrete surfaces, which could impact the track’s lifespan. Track and tire maintenance is another differentiator between the two machines. For example, a compact track loader could handle working in muddy or sandy conditions with ease given the tracks, whereas tires may experience challenges working on this type of terrain.”

The skid-steer gets its name from the way it turns. This small four-wheeled vehicle has tires that operate independently, operating on different sides of the machine and moving at different speeds. The front and back axles of each side are locked in synchronization with each other—not the wheel on the opposite side of the equipment body. They operate independently from their opposite tires. When it does so it drags, or skids, its tires along the floor. By operating independently, the wheels give the skid-steer a zero turning radius (it can literally “turn on a dime”). But the tires themselves do not turn. Turning the machine requires the operator to increase the speed of the wheels on one side, causing the wheels on the opposite side to skid across the ground as the machine rotates in the direction opposite of the faster-moving wheels. This is the key to operation in closed, confined spaces. As mentioned above, many different types of attachments can be included with the basic equipment chassis that allow a skid-steer to perform a wide variety of tasks.

Skid-steers come in three broad size and power classifications. Small-frame skid-steers weigh in at less than 1,750 pounds with engines smaller than 50 hp. Medium-frame skid-steers weigh in between 1,750−2,200 pounds, with engines between 50­−70 hp. Large-frame skid-steers weigh more than 2,200 pounds with engines larger than 70 hp. Small skid-steers are preferred for very tight spaces. Medium skid-steers are the most versatile and are usually equipped with the most types of attachments. Large skid-steers are reserved for heavy-duty jobs like demolition or excavation.

Compact track loaders, on the other hand, are simply skid-steers that ride on high flotation rubber tractor treads. The tractor treads can move at differing speeds like the wheels of the skid-steer and even in opposite directions to allow for tight turning. While wheeled skid-steers typically operate on smooth pavements and flat floors, compact track loaders can maneuver on rough terrain and uneven surfaces. Relatively wide tracks reduce its overall ground pressure, allowing it to operate on weak soils and sensitive surfaces. So useful and versatile is this machine that it is typically the highest selling piece of equipment in the construction industry. Its size, power, and attachments allow it to perform the same functions and carry the same loads as skid-steers, though its need for an undercarriage results in a heavier operating weight. The smoother operation of the tractor treads greatly increases the comfort of the equipment operator.

Aside from the issues of wheels versus tracks, operating weights, preferred operating surfaces, and engine power, there is the issue of costs. These include labor costs, upfront capital costs, long-term operating costs, and the downtime resulting from maintenance and repair. Capital and maintenance costs can vary considerably between skid-steers and compact tracked loaders. Labor costs, however, are similar in terms of training requirements, as are maintenance costs. The primary difference is between maintenance and replacement of tires versus tractor treads, with treads being more expensive to replace. Upfront purchase costs for compact tractor loaders are typically higher than for an equivalently sized skid-steer. Long-term ownership and operating costs favor the compact track loader with their treads lasting three to four times longer than tires. Lost productivity is also a “cost,” and skid-steers cannot operate effectively in as many environments and surfaces as a compact tread loader. So overall, the compact track loader may be the best long-term financial choice—provided it is compatible with the anticipated work area.

As noted by Buck Storlie, ASV product line manager, “Compact track loaders and skid-steer loaders both offer an endless array of attachments, making them the most versatile pieces of equipment one can own. Primary applications include construction, landscaping, agriculture, forestry, snow removal, and more. Skid-steers are typically the lower cost to acquire and maintain. However, compact track loaders can expand the application range, particularly in less than ideal situations such as soft terrain, mud, snow, slopes, and anywhere traction becomes a factor. The ability to work more days and in more places can quickly offset the upgrade cost for a track machine, which is one of the reasons track loaders now have exceeded skid-steers in North America sales volumes.”

Major Suppliers

Caterpillar, Inc. Caterpillar has recently released 16 new Cat D3 Series Skid-Steer Loader (SSL) and Compact Track Loader (CTL) models. In an industry first, the D3 Series models also support a line of new Smart Attachments. This advanced machine technology recognizes certain attachments and tailors the controls and operator information to match the tool and the task. In addition to improved performance, the new designs increase operator comfort with features such as a wider opening cabin door that’s easy to enter and leave and extra cab space for the operator. The D3 Series CTLs also feature a new performance turned undercarriage design. Improvements to the Cat D3 Series CTLs undercarriage frame and torsion axles enhance operating stability by reducing machine pitching and rocking, especially while handling heavy loads, grading, or truck loading, all while maintaining superior ride comfort for the operator.

All Cat D3 Series CTLs feature standard two-speed travel to improve performance at the job site. These machines are geared to deliver high torque digging performance as well as high top-end speed for travel. The Cat 279D3 and 289D3 loaders have an 8.4 mph (13.6 kph) top-end ground speed, a 20% increase over their D Series counterparts. The Cat 239D3 and 249D3 models are now built with 2-speed transmission as standard, versus the previous single-speed, increasing travel speed by 9% and aligning these models with the rest of the two-speed equipped CTL model range. Cat SSLs and CTLs have advanced control features that include Return-to-Dig and Work Tool Positioner to assist operators with repetitive tasks like grading, digging, and loading. These items are now bundled together with the dual-direction self-level feature so that even more operators will be able to take advantage of features that automate machine functions to allow these tasks to be completed with less user interaction and expertise.

Also included in the D3 series CTL family is the new purpose-built Cat 299D3 XE Land Management CTL. The 299D3 XE Land Management delivers superior performance in demanding vegetation-management applications, such as mulching, brush cutting, vegetation control, and mowing. This machine is powered by a turbocharged 110 gross horsepower (82 kW) Cat C3.8 engine that combines with a 40 gpm (150 L per minute) high-flow/high-pressure auxiliary hydraulic system, producing a hydraulic horsepower rating of 94 hp (70 kW). The 299D3 XE Land Management has a 58.1-gallon (220 L) fuel capacity, which is 80% larger than the tank on standard 299D3 XE model and is sized to provide an estimated run time of up to 12 hours. Its one-piece sealed and pressurized cab keeps the operator’s environment clean and quiet, which is especially important for customers working the long shifts in the challenging conditions of these applications. Additional seals, covers, and other special parts are standard for the 299D3 XE Land Management machine to restrict debris and other materials from entering the engine compartment and lower frame while large removable panels provide easy access to aid in routine cleaning. A turbine-type pre-cleaner ejects dust, dirt, and debris from engine-intake airflow before it reaches the filter, thus extending air-filter service life.

JCB North America. Featuring the iconic, single-arm JCB Powerboom and side-door entry, JCB skid-steer loaders are stronger and safer than conventional twin-arm skid-steers. Powered by 74 hp (55 kW) engines that require no DEF, no DPF, and no engine aftertreatment, JCB skid-steers have rated operating capacities ranging from 2,112 pounds (958 kg) to 3,208 pounds (1,455 kg). The JCB Powerboom is built with up to 20% more steel than twin-arm designs and enables 60% better visibility than conventional machines. The small-platform JCB 215 is a vertical lift skid-steer loader with a 74 hp (55 kW) JCB Diesel by Kohler engine with a rated operating capacity of 2,112 pounds (958 kg). The JCB 270 Hi-Viz is a vertical lift skid-steer loader with a 74 hp (55 kW) JCB EcoMAX engine and a rated operating capacity of 2,723 pounds (1,235 kg). The large-platform, JCB 300 is a vertical lift skid-steer loader with a 74 hp (55 kW) JCB EcoMAX engine and a rated operating capacity of 3,186 pounds (1,445 kg). The JCB Teleskid 3TS-8W is the world’s only skid-steer with a telescopic boom, allowing it to lift to a pin height of 13 feet 3 inches, reach 8 feet forward, and dig 3 feet below grade; it has a rated operating capacity of 3,208 pounds (1,455 kg).

Kubota Tractor. All Kubota skid loader and track loader models can be equipped with high-flow auxiliary options from the factory. This opens the door to applications that were not possible just a few years ago with new attachments that have been developed requiring higher flow hydraulics. High-capacity snow blowers and large rotary cutters can now get more work done when properly sized with high flow machines to match the performance. Kubota Tractor Corporation recently unveiled its SVL65-2 compact track loader. The new compact track loader is positioned in a lighter ROC weight class than its predecessors and features an advanced multi-function valve, slide-up overhead front door, and easy on/off self-leveling function. The SVL65-2 features an Advanced Multifunction Valve (AMV Valve) that provides smooth operation when using simultaneous functions, such as auxiliary, boom, and bucket circuits, allowing operators to get the job done faster. The SVL65-2 boasts a wide working range including a rated operating capacity of 2,100 pounds at 35% or 3,000 pounds at 50%, a reach of 34.9 inches, and a hinge pin height of 118.5 inches.

Kubota's skid-steer line includes the SSV65 and SSV75. With standard two-speed travel and optional high-flow hydraulics, Kubota's skid-steers meet the needs of construction, rental, and agriculture customers. The rated operating capacity is 1,950 pounds and 2,690 pounds, respectively, for the SSV65 and SSV75. Both models feature a unique, slide-up, front-entry door that rises overhead, a sidelight for better visibility and safe night operation, and a spacious cabin with climate control. An optional multi-function lever is available, allowing for fingertip control of the major machine and implement functions. Kubota's SSV65 and SSV75 Skid-Steer Loaders feature a slide-up overhead front door, standard two-speed travel, optional high-flow hydraulics, an optional multi-function lever, allowing for fingertip control of the major machine and implement functions, and an optional self-leveling function that maintains the position of the bucket or fork as the attachment is raised. Kubota's SVL65-2 Compact Track Loader features an exclusive Advanced Multifunction Valve (AMV Valve) that provides smooth operation when using simultaneous functions, such as auxiliary, boom, and bucket circuits, allowing operators to be more productive throughout their workday. With the AMV Valve, the SVL65-2 makes running any attachment that utilizes auxiliary hydraulics even easier, especially attachments such as grapple buckets, 4-in-1 buckets, and hydraulic augers.

Takeuchi U.S. Takeuchi's latest releases are the TL6R, TL10V2, TL12R2, and TL12V2, which are fully redesigned machines that offer a host of new cabin features that include a 5.7-inch color monitor, rearview camera, and Takeuchi Fleet Management Telematics. These models also feature improved serviceability and Tier Four Final engines, as well as a new quiet ride track design that reduces noise and vibration, improving ride quality and operator comfort. To meet the ever-increasing demand for more technology, Takeuchi provides the Takeuchi Fleet Management or TFM system that enables operators to monitor their machine's vitals and stay on top of service needs. TFM is available on all current track loader models and allows owners to see a broad real-time view of a single machine or a whole fleet which saves time and money on maintenance intervals and service calls. TFM is standard equipment with two years of service provided on all new machines. It provides alerts and machine information including location, performance, and maintenance data, giving insights into where and how the track loader is being utilized.

The TS80R2 is a large frame radial-lift skid-steer that is built to perform in the most demanding applications. The TS80V2 is a large frame vertical-lift skid-steer that provides outstanding operating capacity and reaches at full lift height, making it an ideal machine for load and carry and truck loading applications. Both models feature a Deutz turbocharged engine that delivers outstanding power, torque, and reliability, and the Diesel Oxidation Catalyst (DOC) after-treatment system reduces maintenance for increased uptime. 

Durability and comfort are key design elements of Takeuchi skid-steers. Durability is provided by Heavy-Duty Axle Pods that feature mechanical faced seals keeping dust and debris out for improved component life. A Fully Welded Uniframe is purpose-built ensuring excellent rigidity and strength. Heavy-Duty Drive Chain and Sprockets are utilized on all models. An advanced Coupler Design, consisting of boxed sections that ensure better cleanout of dirt and debris, improves  coupler engagement and disengagement. Heavy-Duty Lifting Eyes and Tie Downs to lift or secure the loader for transport.

Comfort is provided by a Pressurized Cab including air conditioner, heat, and defrost for a clean, comfortable work environment throughout the year. A Suspension Seat provides multiple adjustments improving operator comfort. A Multi-Informational Display provides machine operational and performance data to the operator at a glance. Pilot Controls requires low effort to reduce operator fatigue, and provides consistent, reliable performance day in and day out. Proportional Auxiliary Hydraulic Controls enable the operator to precisely meter oil flow to the attachment and can be placed in continuous flow mode for motorized attachments.

Ease of maintenance and serviceability is provided by a Maintenance Free DOC for the Deutz engine, reducing downtime. Centralized Filters with simplified maintenance filters are centrally located for greater convenience. A Bumper with Integrated Tie Downs simplifies securing the machine for transport while protecting the engine and components from damage. A Remote Battery Terminal located in the rear of the machine is for greater accessibility and convenience. Lastly, a minimal number of Daily Grease Points located down both sides of the loader frame are for quick and easy daily inspection and maintenance.

John Deere. Their latest skid-steer and compact track loader models are the five within the small-frame G-Series lineup, including 312GR, 314G, 316GR, 317G, and 318G. These models differ from their predecessors by offering an improved cab environment that's more sealed and pressurized and has lower noise levels, a rear-view camera option for better job site visibility, and Bluetooth radio for streaming media. Other new changes that better facilitate working in the metro market or tight space operations include a new design that routes the attachment auxiliary hydraulic line inside the boom arms for added protection and more tie-down locations for faster trailer loading which facilitates getting to the next job efficiently.

John Deere recently released its LevelBest Box Blade with improved grade control capabilities. Grade control helps make a good operator great by improving job site accuracy so there are fewer passes to get the grade correct; it also requires less labor for surveying, and less material yield because of inaccuracies associated with manual machine operations. Additionally, the upgraded small-frame G-Series machines allow operators to use a five-year subscription to JDLink technology. This helps operators see where their skid-steers or compact track loaders are located, check on a specific machine's health, and get support with theft protection in busier markets.

ASV Holdings Inc. has an extensive array of compact equipment. The RT-50 compact track loader joins the previously released RT-25 and RT-40 as the industry’s smallest sit-in compact track loaders. The new RT-50 features an industry-leading performance-to-weight ratio, best-in-class ground pressure, ground clearance, serviceability, and performance. It includes serious performance for its weight and is easy to transport, making it an ideal compact track loader for rental houses, commercial businesses, weekend warriors, or as an addition to landscape, construction, or snow-clearing contractors’ fleets. ASV equipment provides operators with many advantages such as a robust hydraulic system featuring direct drive pumps, large line sizes, and industry-leading hydraulic coolers that keep the machine running at optimal temperatures, resulting in longer component life. The highly efficient systems allow machines to handle 100% load 100% of the time in temperatures up to 118°F. ASV includes metal-face seals on its Posi-Track loaders to ensure that the idler wheel hubs don’t require maintenance for the life of the machine.

“The new RT-50 fits into a size class our customers were asking for,” says Buck Storlie, ASV Holdings Inc. product line manager. “We’re excited to offer the machine as an extremely versatile compact track loader for its class. The RT-50’s size and capabilities will make it very attractive to both existing and new ASV customers. It offers exceptional value to a wide range of industries due to its groundbreaking design and performance features, allowing operators to complete tasks in places other machines aren’t able to.”

The RT-50 features a greater performance-to-weight ratio than any machine in its class, giving operators more clout in tight areas that larger machines can’t access. The track loader boasts a 1,400-pound rated operating capacity. Some competitive machines with a similar ROC weigh over 1,000 pounds more. ASV builds the RT-50 for maximum ease of transport. The lightweight unit’s low trailer weight makes it easily towable by a 1/2-ton pickup truck or SUV. Its narrow width allows it to fit into small trailers. A robust hydraulic system features direct-drive pumps, large line sizes, and industry-leading hydraulic coolers, transferring more flow and pressure directly to the attachment with maximum efficiency. Drive motors transfer the machine’s torque to ASV’s patented internal-drive sprockets. The internal rollers reduce friction loss in the undercarriage, transferring maximum power to the track regardless of drive speed.

ASV builds the RT-50 with features to optimize productivity and quality of work. The machine's high pin height gives it the ability to load landscape trucks and small dump trucks. Its wide tracks and even weight distribution from a large number of contact points within the patented Posi-Track undercarriage allows for class-leading ground pressure. This, combined with optional smooth turf tracks, minimizes risks of turf damage. Plus, ASV builds the RT-50 with best-in-class ground clearance. This allows the unit to operate on more sites, easily traveling over logs, stumps, rocks, and other obstructions with less risk of getting hung up. Its width also means ease of use in tight areas other loaders can't reach, such as sweeping or plowing snow on sidewalks or working in narrow home developments.

The RT-50's innovative undercarriage allows customers to use the machine as an all-terrain, all-season piece of equipment with maximum control, flotation, traction, and pushing power in steep, wet, muddy, and slippery conditions. Numerous contact points and guide lugs also virtually eliminate the risk of track derailment. The patented Posi-Track undercarriage significantly improves operator comfort. The RT-50 features a torsion axle suspension system that allows for a smoother ride over rough terrain, meaning less fatigue for operators spending a long day in the cab. Standard joystick controls make operation easy and intuitive. For additional comfort, ASV offers an optional suspended seat. An optional cold weather cab with a heater or pressurized all-weather cab with heat and A/C allows for year-round comfort while working in extreme temperatures.

The RT-50 includes features allowing for the highest ease of serviceability, saving operators maintenance time so they can get back to work. A large rear-tilting hood gives easy access to all maintenance points. A flexible rubber track with internal positive drive sprockets provides superior traction and track life. The open-rail and drive-sprocket design results in the increased sprocket and bogie wheel life along with easier and faster undercarriage cleaning. All of the wheels are exposed in the undercarriage, allowing the material to spill out, reducing the risk of abrasive material getting trapped and wearing away at components. ASV builds its loaders with standard metal-face seals to ensure the idler wheel hubs don't require maintenance for the life of the machine. Individually replaceable steel sprocket rollers within the undercarriage save both time and money.

ASV's advanced Posi-Track loader design features several qualities to extend track life and reliability of ASV machines, and virtually eliminate the risk of derailment. The tracks last longer in part thanks to the all-rubber components of the undercarriage. ASV manufactures the flexible rubber track with high-strength embedded polycord that allows the track to stretch around material that finds its way into the undercarriage. ASV manufactures the rubber track specifically to minimize weak points that can result from traditional processes. An internal positive drive sprocket joins with rubber lugs to move the track, improving longevity by reducing friction compared to steel-on-steel designs. Plus, bogie wheels are lined with rubber to further boost track life. Compared to traditional steel-embedded tracks, ASV’s rubber tracks can provide up to 1,000 hours of additional service life. Posi-Track loaders feature as many as four times more ground contact points in their undercarriages than competitive steel embedded models. This spreads the unit's weight evenly for lower psi, meaning more flotation and traction and less risk of turf damage. Also, unlike traditional track loaders that include guide lugs only on the inner edge of bogie wheels, ASV includes them on the outer edge. This helps better guide the wheels and allows operators to work on side slopes and uneven terrain without fear of derailment. Plus, industry-leading ground clearance heights allow operation with less risk of getting hung up on obstructions such as logs.

Bobcat Company is a worldwide leader in the manufacturing and supply of compact equipment. Bobcat compact equipment includes skid-steers, all-wheel steers, mini track and compact track loaders, excavators, their line of VersaHANDLER telescopic tool carriers, utility vehicles, their specialty Toolcat utility work machines, compact tractors, and small articulated loaders, along with matching attachments and implements. Bobcat is the industry’s originator, beginning more than 60 years ago with the first compact machine and the prototype of the skid-steer loader. Bobcat leads the industry with state-of-the-art technology for its compact equipment with the name “Bobcat” being almost synonymous with the compact equipment.

The re-designed, next-generation Bobcat R-Series compact loaders represent the largest redesign of a core product in company history. This includes the Bobcat T76 compact track loader and the S76 skid-steer loader. Additional R-Series loaders from Bobcat are pending. The new R-Series loaders have been redesigned to be the most powerful and durable loaders built by Bobcat with a focus on reliability, durability, enhanced performance, and improved operator experience. The R-Series loaders are equipped with redesigned lift arms for increased lifting capability and the new lift arms feature cast steel sections that provide greater strength while enabling a slimmer-profile arm that also enhances visibility. Given the increased load capacity, a redesigned cooling system is a necessity, with the R-Series loaders having an improved cooling system for optimal operation and maximum uptime. These improvements have resulted in reduced operating temperatures of key components, with the fan size increased by approximately 50%, allowing more cooling at a slower rotation speed. Operator safety and comfort are increased with an optional clear-side enclosure allowing for all-around visibility. This improved visibility along with comfortable controls, numerous options, and roomy environment brings more comfort to challenging jobs. R-Series loaders also come standard with LED lights for far-reaching visibility in low-light situations. Operators can also upgrade to the optional premium LED lights which wrap around the cab's upper corners to illuminate more of the job site. An optional backup camera also gives an optimal view of the job site. Comfort is further enhanced by a new 5-Link torsion suspension undercarriage which greatly reduces stress and vibration from the undercarriage, making operation more comfortable. Durability has been improved by a cast-steel attachment mounting system with a new cast-steel Bob-Tach attachment mounting system, providing a stronger connection point with more metal where it's needed.

In addition to improving the existing equipment line, Bobcat Company shows it can also innovate with the introduction of a new 14-metric-ton excavator­—the E145. The E145 is ideal for heavy digging and lifting operations on commercial and residential building sites, underground utility applications, and road and bridge projects. Featuring a reduced tail swing design, the E145 offers great maneuverability in tight job sites, enabling contractors to confidently work around obstacles. Since it is common for contractors to use both a 14-metric-ton excavator with smaller excavators on construction job sites, contractors can work more efficiently with the improved digging and lifting capabilities of the Bobcat E145. With superior hydraulic performance, the machine boasts impressive lifting capacity that enables operators to pick and place items with ease, as well as more slew torque for slewing uphill, backfilling and all-around better productivity. The turbo-charged non-DPF engine provides consistently high torque levels, regardless of elevation. Improved durability is provided by the D-channel design of the E145 upper structure frame, which adds strength to better withstand side impacts and protect machine components. Track pin links are permanently sealed and never need lubrication, reducing operating costs and downtime. Operator comfort has not been neglected by the use of a pressurized cab, which features a seamless sound-isolating seal to keep sound levels low inside the operator station while providing visibility for operators to the front and sides of the machine.

Building on its extensive experience in both excavation and compact equipment operations, Bobcat introduced the R2-Series compact excavators with new design, performance, and comfort enhancements. The first equipment in this series will be the Bobcat E42 and E50 compact excavators. Operations are enhanced by improved low-effort joysticks. Optional depth check accessory kits are available to further improve profitability by minimizing the tendency to over- and under-dig. The depth check is integrated into a standard 5-inch LCD or the optional touch display. Additional design improvements include dual-flange track rollers that increase stability and more efficient engine with simplified routine maintenance, as well as an upgraded cooling system.