The skid-steer loader has earned a reputation as one of the most versatile pieces of equipment on the jobsite and one of the most profitable in the rental fleet.
Much of the credit goes to a vast array of job-simplifying and productivity-enhancing attachments that are available. Recent developments in attachment controls have improved versatility and rental options even more. Innovations include kits - specifically designed for rental centers - that ensure quick, easy installation and removal among loader fleets, as well as remote attachment control kits that allow users to operate attachments safely while outside the loader cab.
Rental control kit Different attachments require different controls. Controlling a simple bucket, for example, requires basic hydraulic control available on all skid-steer loaders. Other attachments, such as an angle broom, require more than one control function. Users controlling an angle broom from inside the loader cab need to power the broom as well as angle it. A control kit is necessary to divert oil to operate the broom's rotation and angling functions. The same is true of attachments ranging from graders, power rakes, sweepers and dozers to snow blowers, stump grinders and sod layers.
For years, the only solution was to install permanent control kits in the loader cab. Installation - and removal - required several hours.
A rental center had to choose between fitting its entire loader fleet with permanent control kits, or risk losing rental sales because a loader in its fleet didn't have the control required to operate a particular attachment. In addition, if a skid steer owner wanted to rent an attachment requiring dual controls but didn't have an installed control kit, the sale could be lost.
To overcome these barriers, at least one skid-steer loader manufacturer has developed what it calls a Rental Demo Kit, specifically designed for rental centers to provide quick and easy control installation and removal. The objective is to cost-efficiently expand rental potential of both loaders and attachments.
The Rental Demo Kit can be installed or removed quickly and easily to set up a rental loader or a customer's machine. Most installations and removals take as little as 15 minutes. A rental center can use the kit to properly equip a customer's skid-steer loader for the duration of the attachment rental. Then the kit can be removed for use with the next rental machine or attachment.
With the Rental Demo Kit, rental centers need fewer control kits because loaders don't require dedicated controls. Attachment renters also have more rental choices if the rental center has a kit to properly fit attachments to the customer's loader.
Rental centers should look for skid-steer loader manufacturers that provide a single control kit for all attachments. Some manufacturers require three or four control kits because they use attachments made by multiple suppliers using different designs.
Selecting a manufacturer that can provide one kit for all attachments avoids connection and hose-routing problems associated with combining differently branded attachments and loaders.
Remote control A remote control attachment option enables the operator to start and operate specific attachments, including a wood chipper and concrete mixer, from outside the loader. This eliminates the need to enter or exit the cab with the engine running or to tie up another operator. The remote helps make a two-person job become manageable for an operator working alone.
The remote unit consists of an electrical harness mounted on the loader's lift arms. Once it is connected, attachments can be operated remotely or from the cab. Designed for added safety, the remote consists of a control panel featuring a key to start and stop the loader, an attachment on/off switch, and an engine stop switch to turn off the loader and the attachment.
The remote option gives rental centers unprecedented attachment safety and versatility. For example, when using a concrete mixer, the remote allows an operator to safely stop or restart the loader and operate the attachment from outside the loader operator control area. The operator can independently start and stop mixer rotation without involving a second laborer inside the machine.
Used in conjunction with the remote, the concrete mixer allows users to mix, transport and dump material more quickly than with stand-alone mixers, simplifying and saving time on small concrete projects such as sidewalks, footings and fencing.
Using remote-control technology, a wood chipper can safely and efficiently reduce wood waste volume by a factor of 10 to 1, chipping branches and tree limbs up to 5 inches (127 mm) in diameter. The chipper's standard hydraulic feed with automatic load sensing allows the feed roller to pull branches into the chipper at a consistent, efficient speed. Two mounting locations allow the chipper intake housing to be mounted on the front of the loader or on the right side. This setup allows the attachment to accommodate different applications, ranging from street-side chipping to areas requiring narrow width. In either application, the remote allows an operator to start, operate and stop the chipper from outside the skid-steer loader, increasing convenience and productivity.
Leveraging new attachment technology is good business strategy for rental centers. Attachment flexibility helps them maximize equipment investments by keeping loaders busier year-round. Rental-focused control kits that enable quick, easy installation and removal and remote attachment control kits, which allow users safe operation while outside the cab, are two of the latest product offerings expanding rental centers' loader and attachment flexibility.