JCB’s Hydradig is capable of tackling more than just digging

JCB Hydradig

The Town of Bradford West Gwillimbury’s recent purchase of a JCB Hydradig will allow the municipality to use the wheeled excavator to tackle the work of two machines.

Previously, the Ontario township would use a tractor to cut grass and a mini excavator to handle ditching duties. However, the Hydradig is able to handle both workloads. 

“When JCB created the Hydradig, the whole idea was to create a machine that is more versatile and can do more than just digging,” said Eric Bouchard, territory sales manager for Jade Equipment Company, the JCB dealer for Central Ontario. 

“It’s a machine that doesn’t sit. This can work in the winter on a water main call, do ditching or brush or sweeping. And all that with one operator.”

The Hydradig arrived in Bradford West Gwillimbury in early December, equipped with a Kinshofer tiltrotator, as well as a FAE mulcher, GRYB buckets and push broom.

The machine is the second of its kind to arrive in Ontario, with the first Hydradig being sold in the Ottawa region earlier this year. 

“The trend I see now is people need a machine that can do more,” Bouchard said. “Once we put this machine out there, people will see what it can do.” 

When JCB began to develop the Hydradig, the vision from the outset of the project was to engineer the most innovative solution in response to five key challenges facing customers in construction. The machine had to be first for visibility, stability, manoeuvrability mobility and serviceability. 

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For visibility, operators are able to see within 1 metre of the machine’s footprint at ground level.

With the 109 hp, Tier 4 Final JCB EcoMAX engine and other major components housed in the machine’s chassis, the counterweight is significantly reduced, and tailswing is minimized to less than 13 cm. Alongside low-level glass, this delivers ground-level visibility. 

“It has the best visibility in the industry. When you sit in this machine, you see all four wheels. There’s no blind spot,” Bouchard said. “It’s super safe, especially for a municipality that has to work downtown with tight streets.” 

Hydradig stability

With the engine and double skinned tanks mounted on the all-steel chassis, the machine features a lower centre of gravity, which is ideal for stability on site and while driving. As well, a lower centre of gravity provides extra operator confidence and productivity when lifting and carrying materials around the site. Furthermore, the weight is evenly distributed between axles to reduce nod and pitch while driving.

“There’s legs in the front and a blade at the back, but more than 80 per cent of the time this machine will be run with everything up,” Bouchard said. “It is the most stable wheeled excavator on the market.” 

Steering modes

For manoeuvrability the Hydradig is equipped with three steering modes as standard, including four-wheel steer, two-wheel steer and crab steer. A kingpost allows the operator to dig parallel to a wall, increasing versatility, while 8 degrees of axle oscillation ensures the Hydradig can manoeuvrer over rough terrain.

The in-cab visibility also translates to a more safely manoeuvrable excavator.

“There’s not a spot this machine cannot reach,” Bouchard said.

Thanks to the four-wheel steer, a less than 4-metre turning radius allows work to take place comfortably within a single lane. Furthermore, reverse steer allows the operator to change the back of the machine to the front, when working in a single lane or where the machine can’t be turned around manually.

Bi-directional pipework lines, with two additional low-flow circuits, are standard on the machine to power a variety of attachments, and feature adjustable flow rates.  

The closed loop hydrostatic transmission features separate pumps for traction and boom power, making it easy to multifunction. As well, a handheld tool circuit is available to provide even greater versatility, by enabling control of a variety of hand tools needed on site such as grinders, pumps or breakers.

Smooth operation

A single speed, hydrostatic transmission allows the operator to drive to the jobsite quickly eliminating the need for a truck for transport.

JCB’s Smooth Ride System also dampens the dig end over uneven ground, creating a smoother ride and reducing the risk of spilling a load.

Equipped with three mobility modes, the operator is able to set the Hydradig for any task. The highway mode isolates the upper structure and dig end for travelling at up to 50 km per hour, while site mode limits the machine to 20 km per hour, with all hydraulic services active.

Selecting creep mode enables a speed limiter for the most precise jobs.

The Hydradig is also equipped with a 3,500-kg towing capacity to move items around the jobsite, including aggregates, attachments or even fuel.

“It’s the only wheeled excavator that has a hitch on it,” Bouchard said.

CommandPlus cab

The Hydradig is built with JCB’s CommandPlus cab, which is the result of exhaustive customer feedback and investment. The cab features a tactile rotary controller to provide precise intuitive control for the all new 18-cm colour display.

A heater and climate control are standard, and an optional seatbelt warning beacon is available to meet jobsite commitments.

For simplified maintenance, the Hydradig was designed to include ground level access to all daily checks and fuel filler for quick and safe servicing.

The Hydradig’s Tier 4 Final engine does not require a diesel particulate filter. Also, the diesel exhaust fluid (DEF) tank is easily accessed at ground level.

A LiveLink three-year contract is including, enabling monitoring of utilization, fuel consumption and machine location.