By Buck Storlie, product line manager at ASV Holdings
Spring has arrived and that means land clearing contractors are out in full force. While many jobs can be fulfilled using a standard compact track loader with a simple bucket, overgrown areas with thick brush and trees require heavier-duty attachments.
Powering these attachments in high-intensity applications like mulching and brushcutting takes a CTL built for optimal performance in the most demanding applications.
Contractors need to make sure the loader has the features to make full use of an attachment’s potential, even in high temperatures and challenging environments. They also need to ensure the attachment is the best fit for the CTL.
Here are six tips for pairing a loader and attachment to ensure high performance and profits.
Choose a dedicated loader for attachments:
The best way to ensure maximum productivity in harsh forestry applications is to choose a CTL designed specifically for the job. Heavy-duty tools, such as mulching attachments, require the machine to handle almost constant, high-intensity loads.
Contractors should choose a loader that allows for 100 per cent load, 100 per cent of the time, at extremely high ambient temperatures.
Some manufacturers build machines capable of performing this way in temperatures up to 49 Celcius. This is accomplished through high horsepower, flow and efficient cooling systems.
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In addition, review the loader’s auxiliary hydraulic pump maximum output capacity. Some models include high flow pumps that are maximized and can cause the attachment to slow down when moving the loader. Look for a forestry-optimized machine with oversized hydraulic pumps that allow movement without taking any flow from the attachment.
Machine operators should also look for features that maximize safety in forestry applications. This includes metal guarding around key areas, such as lights, the AC condenser and the rear screen, to protect against brush and debris.
These machines achieve an additional level of durability with a heavy-gauge cab featuring extra falling-object and rollover protection, as well as reinforced windows for impact resistance. A hydraulically driven, auto-reversing cooling fan can also blow debris from mulching applications out of the engine compartment screens.
Check the specs:
Maximum hydraulic flow and system pressure are two key specs to look for in the best machines and attachments.
Ensure the attachment matches the maximum capabilities of the machine. As most operators know, litres per minute (lpm) is the measure of hydraulic flow which determines the speed of the head, while psi is the maximum hydraulic pressure the attachment can handle. Attachments that don’t fit the machine specs won’t perform as well as attachments that do.
Optimize head settings for attachments:
Next, make sure the attachment has the correct pulley configuration to optimize the carrier’s flow and power. Heads may not be automatically set to match the CTL’s lpm. For example, if the loader features 170 lpm, work with the dealer or manufacturer to re-pulley the attachment to reach a matching tip speed.
Manufacturers also recommend attachments that include a two-speed drive motor. To ensure optimum tip speed, maximum power and the fastest recovery time, make sure the motor shift point is set for the CTL’s specific pressure range.
Reduce flow if necessary:
For attachments with a lower maximum lpm than the CTL’s, reduce the machine flow to ensure attachment longevity and performance.
Operators can reduce machine flow in some loaders through the cab’s display panel. This adjustment will mean the machine won’t reach 100 per cent performance, but it will allow the attachment to operate at its maximum performance.
Not reducing the loader flow will put excessive force on the attachment, causing it to wear faster and reduce performance. For example, if the machine is set at 170 lpm and the attachment is designed for 150 lpm, operation will overspeed mulching head tips and rob power. This can lead to engine bogging, excessive heat and reduced productivity.
Examine coupler and hose size:
Maximize flow between the CTL and attachment with the correct size coupler and hoses. While adapters can be used to accommodate smaller couplers and hoses, doing so will restrict hydraulic flow and reduce horsepower.
Most compact track loaders have a variety of adjustments operators can make to suit their preferences. The operator’s manual has information on how to make changes. Here are a few of the common adjustments for forestry contractors.
- Loader arm speed: Adjust the arm speed if the arms are moving too quickly or too slowly up and down or when tilting and curling the attachment.
- Creep mode: Adjust the maximum low speed depending on conditions and the amount of precision required. Some models allow operators to quickly turn off creep mode via the operator display or when shifting into two-speed. This ensures quick travel when necessary.
- Flow sharing: Some compact track loaders feature an auxiliary pump with a higher hydraulic flow than the machine’s maximum lpm. This feature allows the loader to move with no reduction in attachment speed. If more CTL speed is required, operators can simply adjust flow sharing.
These tips will allow optimal machine and attachment performance, but there are many other factors to consider for even more productivity.
The attachment’s belt size, weight, centre of gravity and back pressure also play a part. The best way to ensure an optimal performance combination is to use an attachment created specifically for the loader. Ask the dealer or manufacturer about attachment options fully designed, tested and configured to optimize the machine’s flow and horsepower.
Taking all of this into consideration will allow for maximum machine and attachment performance and ROI on the job.