Wheeled loaders: Latest machines

18 April 2008

New Holland’s 14.5 tonne, 145 kW Tier 3 complaint W170B features a Powershift transmission, a top sp

New Holland’s 14.5 tonne, 145 kW Tier 3 complaint W170B features a Powershift transmission, a top speed of 38 km/hour and is available with either Z-bar linkage, for fast loading cycles, and TC (Tool

The large number of new wheeled loaders launched over the last 12 months have seen huge advances in fuel efficiency, operator comfort and safety, coupled to easier service and maintenance requirements. However, the continued tyre shortage is still impacting on the supply chain. Richard High reports.

Visitors to this year's ConExpo (11 to 15 March, Las Vegas, US) construction equipment show looking to purchase a new wheeled loader will be spoilt for choice. With new engine emission laws for the 37 to 75 kW powerband coming into force in January this year, and emission regulations for the 130 to 560 kW powerband and 75 to 130 kW powerband revised in January 2006 and 2007 respectively, almost all new machines now have fuel-efficient Stage IIIA/Tier 3 engines.

One of the largest machines on show will be Hyundai's 29.3 tonne, 250 kW HL780-7A. However, the machine will be shown in Case's colours following the announcement in October 2006 that the two companies had signed a supply agreement that will see the Korean manufacturer supply its HL780-7A wheeled loader to Case.

The machine will be sold in North America, Europe, Africa and the Middle East under the Case brand. Commenting on the deal, J.J. Kim, executive vice president of Hyundai Heavy Industries said, "We are pleased that another major manufacturer recognises the product quality and performance resulting from out world class manufacturing capabilities."

Case also showed several new machines at last year's Bauma in Germany, including its new 17.2 tonne, Tier 3/Stage IIIA compliant 821E (159 kW), which has a maximum bucket capacity of 3.4 m3.

Case says the new engine delivers +11% more power with lower fuel consumption than its predecessor. The loader also has a higher bucket pin and +4% more bucket capacity than the old model.

Hyundai's new Dash 7A loaders, of which the HL780-7A is the largest, have also been re-engined and, like the 821E, were on show at Bauma. Other features include a new control lever with functions such as kick-down now built-in. The in-cab display is now graphical, while a ‘light' automatic mode cuts gear change times and fuel consumption.

Fuel consumption

Indeed, fuel consumption is one of the major concerns expressed by potential customers, according to Volvo's Jonas Thoursie, director of marketing wheeled loaders. According to one industry source, fuel costs have risen by +400% over the last three years and this could see a new generation of hybrid models entering the market, he added.

"Getting the machines to work on a hybrid basis could save operators -50% on fuel consumption," said Mr Thoursie. This month's ConExpo exhibition will see Volvo exhibit just such a machine in the shape of an L220F fitted with a diesel/electric drive system.

The basic principle is that an electric motor is used to drive the machine in parts of the cycle where a diesel engine is inefficient. In more comfortable power/torque ranges, the diesel engine is used to recharge the batteries used for the electric motor.

In many applications outside construction batteries are a problem - they tend to be heavy and so add to a vehicle's weight and reduce the scope for fuel savings. However, construction machines like wheeled loaders and excavators require counterweights, so batteries can be used without adding to the overall mass of the machine.

Like Volvo, Caterpillar has also been taking a hard look at fuel efficiency. "It is the biggest concern among our customers," said Vincent Migeotte, Caterpillar's quarry and aggregates manager, Europe, Africa and the Middle East (EAME) and the CIS. On demand hydraulics and matching the engine revs to the application are just some of the things Caterpillar has done in an effort to help reduce fuel consumption and up efficiency, added Mr Migeotte.

With this in mind the companies newest wheeled loaders, the 950H, 962H, the 966H, 972H and 980H (147 to 237 kW), feature 6-cylinder ACERT engines (C7, C11, C13 and C15) with ADEM 4 electronic controllers and mechanically actuated electronic fuel injection.

This is coupled to Cat's Engine Idle Management System (EIMS), which is designed to maximise fuel efficiency. While grouped grease fittings, a new hydraulic service centre, 500 hour hydraulic filter service intervals and 1000 hour transmission filter service interval are intended to reduce service and maintenance requirements.


Demand for wheeled loaders has been rising over the last 12 months. However, this in itself has presented manufacturers with several problems.

Hitachi Construction Machinery Europe's assistant sales manager for wheeled loaders, Wilbert Blorn, told iC the market in 2007 has been "good", although it has also been "challenging".

This, said Mr Blorn, was because suppliers, particularly for tyres and hydraulic components, had been unable to meet demands. Hitachi, he said, was working hard to overcome these problems and expected to resolve them in the next 12 months.

"Tyres have definitely been a problem, especially at the larger sizes," he said. "This is because we haven't been buying in the same quantities as Cat or Volvo so we're not at the top of tyre manufacturers' list."

However, even Cat admits it's had a testing time trying to source good quality reliable tyres recently. According to Mr Migeotte, while the company has had no problems sourcing tyres for its larger loaders it has changed supplier "sometimes" to meet demand. "However, our agreements with the major tyre manufacturers mean we don't suffer any real problems," he added.

Operator comfort

Operator comfort is a big selling point today, and this is an area Komatsu addresses with its SpaceCab. Fitted to all three of its new wheeled loaders, the WA430-6 (175 kW), WA470-6 (202 kW) and WA480-6 (224 kW), which cover bucket sizes from 3.3 m3 to 6.0 m3, it provides a spacious interior with air conditioning, adjustable steering column, ergonomic controls and an air-cushioned, heated seat.

It is also a quiet environment with noise at the operator's ear around 71 to 72 dB(A) depending on the model.

All three models boast Tier 3/Stage IIIA engines and new drive trains for low fuel consumption, while load sensing hydraulics help improve controllability, cycle times and breakout forces.

Hitachi's new Tier 3 compliant ZW180 (129 kW) comes with a 2.6 to 3.1 m3 bucket, and complements the larger ZW220, ZW250 and ZW310 launched in 2006. A new load sensing hydraulic system has improved bucket productivity, while the cab features an adjustable heated seat and steering column, and improved climate control.

Liebherr's four new L524 2plus1, L528 2plus1, L538 2plus1 and L542 2plus1 have bucket capacities from 2.0 to 2.7 m3, and come with either an 86 kW or 105 kW Tier 3 engine. Key features for the operator include a bigger cab and wider doorway, and the machines are available with either a Z-bar or parallel lift front end.

Further up the range is the new L550 2plus2, which replaces the L544 2plus2 in the 3.2 m3 bucket class. The tipping load has been raised by more than a tonne to 11.7 tonnes and the 130 kW engine is also more powerful than that of its predecessor.

These models are joined by its "flagship" L586 2plus2. The 31 tonne, Tier 3 compliant machine has a 250 kW engine and is fitted with a 5.5 m bucket as standard.

Doosan's newest wheeled loader is the14.5 tonne DL250, which is powered by its 121 kW DL06 engine and offers +9% more torque than the Mega 250-V it replaces. A larger, quieter cab offers better visibility, while the air conditioning system has been improved. There is a choice of control systems for the operator, and gears can be changed either manually or automatically.

The latest New Holland Tier 3 compliant wheeled loaders - the W170B, W170B TC, W190B and W270B - span the 145 to 239 kW range and 2.4 to 4.6 m3 bucket classes. All feature CNH (or Cummins for the W270B) engines teamed with ZF Powershift transmissions, which provide more torque than their predecessors.

The 145 kW W170B is available either with a traditional Z-bar front end, or as the parallel lifting tool carrier (TC) variant. It comes with a 2.4 to 2.8 m3 bucket. The 190B has a 169 kW engine and can be fitted with a 3.1 to 3.5 m3 bucket, while the W270B has a 239 kW engine and a 4.0 to 3.6 m3 bucket.

Elsewhere, Terex's new wheeled loaders - the TL 420 and TL 450 ­ have 4.2 and 4.5 m3 buckets and 216 and 231 kW Tier 3 Cummins engines respectively. They also feature ZF transmissions, Rexroth load sensing hydraulics and have parallel lift front ends with an automated ‘return to dig' function. Both have a dump height of 3.15 m and feature a hydraulic damping system as standard, for a smoother ride.

Also new is the TL 210, which has a 119 kW Tier 3 engine and comes with either a quick hitch and 2 m3 bucket or a direct mounted 2.1 m3 bucket. Hydrostatic drive provides a maximum travel speed of 40 km/hour, while the front linkage provides parallel lift capabilities with Z-bar breakout forces.

Future developments

Besides this, comfort, safety and noise will also continue to be major areas of concern, said Hitachi's Mr Blorn. Thanks to the difficulty of recruiting and keeping operators in the industry, they are becoming ever more important in choosing the machine contractors buy, he added.

Higher levels of comfort are at the forefront of the battle to keep them in the industry, hence the plethora of more comfortable cabs on new machines launched in the last 12 months. The aim of all this, said Mr Blorn, "is to get the most productivity from the operators."


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Andy Brown Editor, Editorial, UK - Wadhurst Tel: +44 (0) 1892 786224 E-mail: [email protected]
Neil Gerrard Senior Editor, Editorial, UK - Wadhurst Tel: +44 (0) 7355 092 771 E-mail: [email protected]
Catrin Jones Deputy Editor, Editorial, UK – Wadhurst Tel: +44 (0) 791 2298 133 E-mail: [email protected]
Eleanor Shefford Brand Manager Tel: +44 (0) 1892 786 236 E-mail: [email protected]