Construction Loaders Buying Guide, Supplies and Manufacturers
Construction loaders may be used to carry a wide range of different materials, including debris from a demolition, logs, asphalt, metal bars, pipes, rock, sand and gravel. Construction loaders are generally used to move material onto or into another piece of machinery, although they can also be used simply to move material around the site.
A number of different types of loaders are used in construction. Some large construction projects require the use of multiple loaders, but small construction companies often need to choose a single, multi-purpose loader.
Front loaders are the most common types of loaders. They are a type of tractor and they are usually mounted on wheels, although front loaders with tracks can also be found. A wide, square shaped bucket is mounted on the front of the vehicle. The bucket is connected to the vehicle by two arms or booms, which can be used to move the bucket up and down, in order to pick up material from the ground and to hold it up, away from the ground, as it is transported. This means that the material is picked up rather than pushed across the surface. Front loaders are typically used to move material from the ground into an open trench or onto the back of a waiting truck. Front loaders can be used for laying pipes, clearing debris or rubble, and for digging. However, the restricted movement of a front loader bucket means that it not usually the most efficient tool for digging since the bucket is unable to move much below the level of the vehicle's wheels. The bucket can be moved much further in an upwards direction, particularly if it is a high-tip bucket. This can be useful for moving material onto the back of a truck, although the weight of material that can be carried at the greatest height may be limited. Lighter materials such as wood chips or gravel are generally more suitable for this type of movement.
Another type of loader that is also very popular in construction is the backhoe loader. Backhoes are often smaller vehicles than front loaders, which makes them better suited for smaller construction projects or working in an urban area. They have a front bucket, which can be used in the same way as that of a front loader, in addition to a backhoe that can be used for digging or scraping. This means that they can be used for more than one activity on a construction site and that they are able to dig as well as to carry material. The controls for the hoe are typically positioned towards the rear of the vehicle, with the driver's seat being able to rotate around in order to face them when using the hoe. Some backhoes have buckets with retractable bottoms that can be opened in order to dump the load quickly. These clamshell buckets can also be useful for grading and scraping. Backhoes are available that only have a hoe, without a front loader. These machines can be more efficient for digging since there is no need to move the front bucket into the right position in order to ensure that the vehicle is properly balanced before using the backhoe.
Swing loaders are sometimes used on construction sites. They use a swinging boom, with movement of over 180 degrees, to lift material using various different types of attachment, such as buckets, forks and magnets. They are typically used when laying railroad tracks and they can be particularly useful when there is limited space available on site since the boom can move material a relatively long distance while the body of the vehicle remains stationary.
Tractor loaders are available, which can be fitted onto a tractor in order to convert it into a front loader. This can be useful when completing construction projects in an agricultural environment, when a tractor may be needed for other purposes since it can be cheaper to buy different attachments for a single tractor than to invest in a construction loader. However, in most construction situations, a construction loader is preferred since the other functions of the tractor are not needed.
Once you have decided on the type of construction loader which you need, you should spend some time considering the different options that are available. You need to find the loader that will be the best match for your needs. It must be able to carry the right volume and weight of material, and it must be suitable for use in the type of environments where you need to work.
A wide range of different sizes of construction loaders and buckets are available. The capacity of a typical loader bucket can vary between 0.5 and 36 meters cubed. Larger machines usually have larger buckets, with front loaders generally having larger buckets than backhoe loaders and generally being able to carry heavier weights.
In addition to the capacity of the bucket, you will also need to consider the height and distance over which the bucket can be moved. Most front loaders will have a relatively restricted range of movement, but you need to make sure that the load can be lifted as high as you need to raise it, for example in order to deposit the material onto your truck. If you have chosen to buy a backhoe loader, you will also need to make sure that you choose a machine which can dig to the required depth. Compact backhoes can usually dig to about 8 or 10 feet, while larger backhoes may be able to dig up to 16 feet. The lift and reach of the bucket are also important considerations. The dumping height of a loader is usually measured as to the height of the hinge pin, which is the pivot holding the bucket onto the arms.
The size of the machine itself, and its maneuverability, are also important considerations. You need to be able to bring your construction loader onto your site and to move it around the site to carry material to its proper destination. If you work on small sites, you will need a more compact construction loader. You should consider the height and width of a loader, as well as the amount of space it needs to turn.
Front loaders use articulated steering, rather than the automotive steering typically found in backhoes and in tractors with removable front buckets. Articulated steering enables the front axle to provide a more solid base and to rotate along with the bucket or attachment. This enables heavier weights to be carried and it makes it possible for the loader to have better maneuverability. The front wheels and attachment can be steered into place after the loader has stopped. However, twisting the machine to the side in this way could result in a lack of stability if the load is lifted too high.
Wheels are common on construction loaders, but it is also possible to buy loaders that run on tracks instead. Tracked loaders can be a good option when the loader needs to move over ground which could damage wheels. Areas where there is a lot of rubble or where there is sharp material on the ground can damage rubber tires, so it may be necessary to choose a loader with tracks if you will be operating in such a site. Tracks can also prevent loaders from sinking into soft or muddy ground, so if you are likely to need to work in wet conditions, it can be a good idea to choose a tracked loader. However, wheeled loaders tend to be faster and more agile than those with tracks, and they are suitable for use on paved roads, so they can offer benefits over tracks in certain situations.
Skid steer construction loaders are another option. They are set on four wheels, which are placed very close to one another and they are designed to be very compact. The arms which move the bucket lie alongside the body of the vehicle and they can be connected to a range of different tools, including a bucket. The most important feature of skid steer vehicles is that they turn not by moving the front pair of wheels, but by turning the wheels on one side of the vehicle while the wheels on the other side are stationary. The loader therefore pivots around the stopped wheels. This means that a skid steer loader can turn itself around in a very small space, making them ideal for sites where accessibility is a problem. Compact track loaders are similarly useful in restricted spaces, but they are set on tracks rather than wheels, which means that they need more space than a skid steer loader, but that they are more stable.
The bucket on a front loader may be either a permanent part of the vehicle or a detachable tool that can be removed when it is not in use. It can also be possible to replace backhoes with other types of equipment, for different purposes. Backhoes are often designed so that the equipment can be quickly and easily removed and replaced. The versatility of backhoe loaders makes them one of the most popular choices for construction work. However, a piece of equipment that is dedicated to a single purpose, either loading or digging, can be more efficient at its job than a backhoe loader, so if you only need a machine for one function, it can be a good idea to choose a single purpose construction loader.
A loader that has removable features can be a good choice if multiple tools are needed since different pieces of equipment can often be bought for use with the loader. A single vehicle can thus take on a number of different roles. Loaders may be able to take fork lifts or hydraulically operated clamshell buckets which can be opened and closed in order to operate as scrapers or dozers, as well as a normal bucket. Small contractors can benefit from choosing a loader with removable parts since it will usually be cheaper to buy and run one multipurpose vehicle than a number of different loaders. Larger companies, which can afford multiple vehicles, may prefer to choose multiple loaders with fixed equipment, which can all be used at the same time by different workers.