C.F. Forks

Equipment Spotlight

Wheel Loaders

When paper and plastic recyclers, scrap yards and other recycling operations have large loads to move, want economical fuel and tire outlays and smooth-rolling transport, they turn to wheel loaders. In terms of lifting capacity, maneuverability, lift height and ability to handle rough terrain, these versatile tools have few peers. They can be found all over the recycling industry, loading trucks, transferring recyclable materials and performing other essential tasks.

In Racine, Wisconsin, Dave Wolf, marketing manager for Case North America, says the company’s most popular wheel loader in their extensive lineup is the Model 621E. Powered by a turbocharged, air-cooled, 6-cylinder engine, the 621E generates 162 maximum horsepower and can carry up to 3 cubic yards of payload. With maximum, standard and economy power curves, users can match the horsepower to the application, improving fuel efficiency, Wolf says.

Case North America

Another Case design feature attractive to recyclers is a mid-mount cooling module. “It’s a box of coolers,” Wolf says. “So all the coolers are on the outside of the machine. We do not have any stacked coolers.” Outside coolers can improve cooling efficiency over other designs. “That eliminates fluid breakdown which extends component life,” Wolf adds.

The 621E also has a hydraulically-driven reversing fan, which can make maintenance simpler when operating in dirty environments. “When you reverse the fan, you purge any airborne dirt right on the job site without having to go anywhere,” Wolf says.

Another feature of the Case machine is the location of the engine mount, behind the rear axle and low to the ground. The rearward mount allows the engine to function as a counterweight when lifting heavy loads. And the low height of the engine mount makes it easier to get at the engine. “We have complete access to the engine and all daily maintenance checks at ground level,” Wolf says. “The easier it is to perform the daily maintenance checks, the more likely it is to get done. And if it gets done, then we’re extending the life of the component.”

Case’s latest wheel loader is a compact model, the 60 horsepower 121E. “The compact wheel loaders we’re seeing more in plastic recycling, maybe some small scrap yards,” Wolf says. The larger 621Es are more likely to be found in automotive recycling operations. “With mid-mount cooling, we’re seeing it go into all kinds of recycling applications,” he says. “Scrap is one we’re seeing the most in.”

In Pendergrass, Georgia, Allen Rudd, national marketing manager for Takeuchi US, says that when the company’s wheel loader line was introduced to the United States in 2006, they guessed it would be mostly used in lighter earthmoving applications. “We expected it to be utilized in the landscaping industry or golf courses,” Rudd says. “But it’s not moving extremely fast. That’s probably because we aren’t marketing it that hard.”

Takeuchi US

Takeuchi does offer the market some attractive features. In semiannual dealer gatherings, Takeuchi gets together a variety of competitive machines and lets dealers try them out in a large field nearby. “They get to drive our machines and they get to drive competitive machines,” Rudd says. “The wheel loader, they love it. It’s got a lot of features that some of the others don’t have.”

One thing the Takeuchi wheel loader offers is a distinctive steering design. “It pivots in the center, so the back tracks track exactly like the front tracks,” Rudd says. The wheel loader line, consisting of four models from the 51 horsepower TW50 with a 1-cubic-yard bucket to the 73-horsepower, 1.3-cubic-yard TW80, also features pushbutton control of the front and rear axle differential locks. “That simply means if you’re in a situation where you’re lifting, you have immediate additional traction,” Rudd says. “And if you get in a situation where you might be slipping or spinning, that thing will lock down and you can get some work done.”

In recycling yards, where bulky materials need to be moved significant distances over tricky surfaces, might be good candidates for the Takeuchi wheel loaders. “They’ve got about a 12 miles per hour speed and big floating tires,” Rudd says. “So they’re really good for transporting large amounts of material quickly. It can fill up trucks quick and it’s got enough speed to take something a pretty good distance.”

Demands for fuel efficiency are driving much of the design activity in the wheel loader product category. To respond, in addition to offering three power curves for the economy-minded, Case has changed its hydraulic systems to make them more efficient. The new approach uses hydraulic power only when and where the operator needs it, compared to an open center system that has continuous flow. “We’re trying to save some power requirements and increase fuel efficiency,” Wolf says.

New Holland

When it comes to regulations, the biggest thing affecting the wheel loader industry at the moment is tighter emissions controls. New rules are expected in 2010 and wheel loader makers including Case are already anticipating the shift. “You’re seeing a lot of new engine technology being incorporated, like charged air coolers, higher pressure injection systems and exhaust gas recirculation,” Wolf says. “It’s a lot of things the auto industry went through years ago.”

Traditional demand for wheel loaders from the construction industry, especially residential, is slow. Commercial construction and roads and bridges are better, but recycling is one of the relatively rare bright spots for wheel loaders today. “We’re seeing a definite increase in the scrap and recycling,” Wolf says.