A skid steer loader is a small, multipurpose construction machine that is usually used for excavating. It's lightweight and nimble, and its arms can connect to a variety of tools for a variety of construction and landscaping tasks.
Either four wheels or two tracks will be on the skid steer. Each side's front and back axles are locked in synchronisation with one another, however the wheels on the other side of the machine can be driven independently.
The wheels do not turn and remain in a fixed straight alignment. The skid steer operator must raise the speed of one side's wheels to spin the machine, causing the wheels to skid or drag across the ground as the vehicle rotates in the other direction. The machine's name comes from the steering function.
Clearing Snow The bucket can also be used to clear snow, or an operator can utilise a snow blower or snow blade attachment in more severe winter conditions.
With attachments like a ripper, tiller, trencher, or wheel saw, a skid steer may also do excavation operations.
The machine can be equipped with a cement mixer or a pavement miller for building and construction activities.
Landscapers will appreciate the stump grinder, tree spade, wood chipper, and trench-digging attachments, while agricultural and warehouse workers will appreciate the pallet forks and bale spears.
Excavating and Trenching
Finally, and perhaps most notably, the skid steer may be equipped with a number of digging attachments, including a backhoe, trench-digger, and auger (which operates like a corkscrew to burrow a precise hole).
There is an attachment for practically each worksite circumstance that makes the skid steer a viable option for any activity. It's critical that you or your hired skid steer operator are familiar with the unique safety and maintenance rules for the skid steer and the accessories you'll be using for each job.
If you want to use a skid steer loader on your job site, you'll need to figure out what size skid steer loader will work best for you. Although skid steer loaders are all small in comparison to other forms of heavy equipment, they are nonetheless available for purchase or rental in a variety of sizes. A skid steer's size is determined by the frame's dimensions, as well as the weight, power, and capacity.
Caterpillar, for example, now provides eight skid steer models with working weights ranging from 5,849 to 9,573 pounds. The horsepower of these models varies, with larger models having more horsepower than smaller variants. The rated operational capacity is another significant metric (ROC). The ROC indicates how much weight a skid steer can raise without tipping. The smallest Cat® skid steer has a lifting capacity of 1,550 pounds, while the largest has a lifting capacity of 3,700 pounds.
You're undoubtedly wondering, "How big do I need a skid steer?" The solution is contingent on the applications you intend to use. Here are some of the benefits that each size group has to offer:
Small: If you need a skid steer for projects in tight locations, such as interior demolition or underground construction, or precise work, such as landscaping, a skid steer with a small frame is a good option. Smaller skid steer loaders are easier to carry to and from the job site, as well as to manoeuvre on the job.
Mid-size skid steers are a fantastic, adaptable alternative that are still tiny and light while providing more power and capacity than small skid steers. These skid steers, with the correct attachments, may be a fantastic tool for excavating in confined spaces where a larger piece of equipment, such as a backhoe, would be too big.
Large: For heavy-duty applications such as giant-scale demolition operations, excavation work, and roadbuilding, large skid steers are the ideal solution. A huge skid steer will still be smaller than many other popular pieces of construction equipment, but they are heavy to move and less adept at manoeuvring through tight places than smaller skid steers.
Demolition: Both interior and exterior demolition projects benefit greatly from the use of skid steers. Your skid steer may assist in tearing down drywall, flooring, and other materials with demolition shears. A skid steer is particularly useful for demo projects in confined locations because of its small size and accuracy, such as when demolishing a house in a community with other houses nearby.
Skid steers are capable of performing roadworks and maintenance activities. Using your skid steer's accessories, you may perform activities like demolition, grading, paving, and patching. Other attachments include a cement mixer and a pavement miller.
The bucket attachment on your skid steer can be used to remove snow and other debris, such as brush. If you utilise your skid steer for significant snow removal, you can additionally purchase a snowblower or snow blade accessory.
Excavation, trenching, and digging are all excellent uses for a skid steer in the earthmoving industry. Depending on your particular needs, you can employ a variety of accessories for various activities. Backhoe, auger, trencher, and wheel saw are a few examples. A skid steer can dig anything, from a building's entire foundation to tiny portholes, with the correct attachment.
Grading and backfilling: A skid steer can also be used to fill in holes, level out the ground, and aerate it. While a bucket can be used for these jobs, levelling is best done with a rake attachment or grading bar. These attachments allow you to level the ground without creating significant ditches while also scooping up rocks. Instead of a vertical lift, you can utilise a radial lift skid steer for low-to-the-ground work.
Using a bucket attachment, skid steers can assist you in loading and moving supplies and equipment around the construction site. A vertical lift skid steer may be preferable than a radial lift skid steer if you need to raise items because these models are able to lift greater weights and have a higher reach.
You might be shocked to learn that a skid steer can also be used for mowing. You can effectively clear an area by cutting down tall grasses and other plants using a rotary brush cutter. Perhaps even some smaller trees can be felled. Skid steers are zero-turn machines that provide the mowing precision you need while also having more features than a normal riding mower.
Landscaping: A few of the previous chores we discussed are helpful for landscaping. Other landscaping jobs that a skid steer can handle include tilling, wood chipping, and stump grinding. Compost or fertiliser can even be incorporated into the soil with the aid of a tiller attachment. You can move items like stones, mulch, or gardening equipment with a bucket rather than having to push a wheelbarrow.
Skid steers are also a very valuable tool for agricultural labour. They can be used for the aforementioned duties as well as tilling. Additionally, you may clean up stables and barns with a bucket attachment. To transport hay bales, which otherwise requires a lot of labour, you may even buy a bale attachment.
Skid steers can be used in a warehouse for material handling. You can move pallets and other items with a fork attachment. Choose a vertical lift option rather than a radial lift option if you need a skid steer to lift products and deposit them in a warehouse.
These are a few examples of skid steer applications, however this is not a complete list. As long as you have the appropriate attachment, there are a lot of things you can perform with a skid steer.
As many types of construction sites prepare for spring and summer labour, now is an excellent time for safety reminders. The National Institutes for Occupational Safety and Health has developed a comprehensive bulletin titled "Preventing Injuries and Deaths from Skid Steer Loaders." This publication can be used in training sessions, but we felt it was important to share these three important skid steer safety tips with you: Use caution when approaching and exiting the skid steer.
Ascend the loader with the lift-arm supports in place and the bucket resting on the ground.
Face the machine and climb on the steps and handholds with three points of contact.
It is not advised to climb using hand or foot controls.
When it's time to get out, wait until the bucket is dropped to the ground, the parking brake is set, and the engine is turned off before getting out of your seat.
Exit the skid steer with the same three-point-contact method you used to board.
To prepare the equipment for the next day or shift, clean the walkways and other work spaces.
Work in a safe manner.
Always operate the machine from within the premises for your own safety. The operator's compartment is not only practical, but also safe.
To maintain your equilibrium when operating the skid steer, sit down.
Keep your legs, arms, and head inside the cab while it is operating.
Make sure you have your seatbelt on while working. Make sure the restraint bar is in a good position. It is never a good idea to turn off safety equipment.
Ascertain that onlookers or ground workers are sufficiently distant to see them and avert risk.
Follow these tips to guarantee safe operation: avoid tipping the machine by not rotating it or loading/unloading on uneven ground. Crossing slopes is rarely a good idea; instead, go up and down straight. The heavy end of the machine should face up.
Use the skid steer sparingly on unsteady ground.
Keep the bucket in the smallest possible position when moving or turning.
Follow the maintenance instructions to the letter.
Always follow the service and preventive maintenance guidelines provided by the manufacturer. Mistakes and safety breaches are all too often when an equipment isn't properly maintained.
Cleaning the foot controls as needed will keep them free of dirt, snow, ice, and other debris.
Regularly inspect and maintain all safety belts, restraint bars, side screens, interlocked controls, and the rollover protection structure (ROPS). Turning off or tampering with any safety equipment is never a good idea.
Underneath an elevated bucket, no maintenance should be performed. Check to see if the lift-arm supports are in place if you don't have any other options.
We'll throw in a fourth skid steer safety tip: when operating a skid steer, it's not just the operator who needs to be cautious. Those working near loaders or other moving machinery on the ground must always be aware of their surroundings. Even the most skilled operator cannot guarantee complete visibility, especially when both equipment and people are moving. It is the obligation of everyone to keep everyone safe.
Skid-steer and compact track loaders have a plethora of attachments that allow them to do a wide range of tasks, including trench digging. In some circumstances, a backhoe attachment attached to a skid steer or compact track loader might be more efficient than a dedicated digging machine like a backhoe-loader.
An attachment will almost certainly never replace a backhoe-loader. This is due in part to the fact that a dedicated machine is developed and designed to perform a certain task, and to do so efficiently and productively every day.
"From the structures of the mainframe to the hydraulic pump and valves, a dedicated machine is obviously built for optimised backhoe performance," explains Caterpillar's Kevin Hershberger. "An attachment backhoe is one of many tools designed to operate as well as feasible within the machine's existing design constraints."
To determine whether a backhoe attachment is appropriate for your customer's tasks, Hershberger recommends evaluating the type of job they regularly conduct. Inquire whether trenching is something they do on a regular basis or if it is something they do on a regular basis.
"A dedicated equipment will be more suited for someone who needs to undertake backhoe work every day," explains CE Attachments' Ron Peters. A skid-steer loader can be used by a contractor that digs trenches on a regular basis.
Other considerations include any size constraints that may apply to most jobs, normal ground conditions and trenching specifications, and transportation needs.
Here are a few things to think about before selling your customers a backhoe attachment/skid steer combination or a specialised equipment.
Problems with space
Due to its relatively smaller size, a skid-steer or compact track loader might provide some manoeuvrability advantages.
"Moving around a jobsite is easier with a lower overall length," explains Bobcat's Justin Odegaard. "There may not be a benefit if your customer's only activity is digging. However, if they're doing everything themselves, such as trenching, backfilling, and so on, a shorter machine will allow them to get into smaller spaces." A skid steer with a backhoe attachment would be appropriate in this situation.
Due to its steering technique, a skid-steer or compact track loader can be advantageous in narrow situations. "In general, manoeuvrability is simpler," Odegaard claims. "Front-wheel or all-wheel steer is possible with a specialised machine. It's more harder to get into tighter spaces with a longer package. You can squeeze yourself into some fairly tight spaces with a skid steer or tiny track loader."
Concerns about the soil
Operators can use tracks with the help of a backhoe attachment. Compact track loaders, in particular, may work quietly on a variety of construction projects.
"Depending on where they work," Odegaard says, "it can make a tremendous impact." "Having tracks can be useful if they're in sand or mud," says the author.
Working in well-established locations can also benefit from tracks. "Compact track loaders have a smaller footprint and lower ground pressure than standard track loaders, thus they leave less of an imprint on the ground. If the soil is soft, they don't leave ruts "Odegaard goes on to say something else.
Is it necessary for them to go any further?
If your client requires a shallow, narrow trench, a backhoe attachment may be more appropriate. For example, a backhoe that digs to a depth of 6 feet and a skid steer as narrow as 36 inches can be used on some of Bobcat's smaller equipment.
"If they're digging shallow and need to get into a backyard to dig a fish pond or do something similar, they can easily accomplish it with one of our smaller machines since it can fit through the gate and they don't have to knock down any fences," Odegaard says.
Machine that transports goods
A skid-steer loader is usually lighter than a backhoe loader. The greater weight of the backhoe-loader may necessitate a larger trailer and a CDL, so that is something to think about.
"You might be able to get away with a bit shorter trailer because of the reduced length of a skid-steer loader," Odegaard says.
Bobcat: We supply Bobcat because we have found their product quality and service backups to be excellent.
Hitachi: Among other manufacturers, we offer Hitachi Construction Machinery diggers. This is because Hitachi has a long history of providing reliable diggers to UK industry.
Caterpillar: This is a brand that includes diggers in a wide range of items used in the construction industry. Caterpillar diggers are the lifeblood of the construction industry.
JCB: If you asked any builder what a JCB is, they would probably look at you with a puzzled expression on their face. This is because JCB is probably the most well-known brand of diggers in the world.