Skid steer loaders and compact track loaders are both capable of moving significant volumes of snow at once. Which is the best option?
When deciding between a skid steer loader (SSL) and a compact track loader (CTL) for your snow removal jobs, it's crucial to know what each equipment does and how they differ.
Skid steers and CTLs are both small machines that can turn on a dime and operate in tight places. Both can be equipped with buckets, brooms, pushers, and plough blades, among other attachments.
The way these machines traverse the ground, though, is where they differ the most. Compact track loaders have high-floatation rubber tracks, whereas skid steers feature wheels and tyres.
In the Snow While both skid steer loaders and compact track loaders are capable of removing snow, experts recommend taking several factors into account when selecting the appropriate equipment for your needs.
According to Caterpillar product specialist Kevin Coleman, “Skid steer loaders (SSLs) have been employed in snow clearing and removal applications due to their fast travel rates, which allow them to quickly traverse the region they are operating in or move from one site to another.” “Because SSL tyres have a limited contact area, they transfer high ground pressure and provide outstanding grip in moving snow. Compact track loaders (CTLs), on the other hand, travel at significantly slower speeds than a comparable sized SSL.”
Coleman goes on to describe the differences between CTLs and SSLs in terms of snow removal.
“Because of the lengthy rubber belt, a CTL also delivers lesser ground pressure,” he adds. “While reduced ground pressure is generally considered a disadvantage in this application, this disadvantage is remedied by providing the CTL with rubber tracks with bar-style tread. This tread design can grip and bite the snow, allowing the operator to push and turn like an SSL with a rubber track machine.”
“Equipping your CTLs with a bar-style tread pattern helps the track to grip the snow far better than standard block-style tread, and gives superb stopping, turning, and pushing performance,” he continues. In reality, the CTL platform has further benefits in terms of snow clearance and removal. The CTL's extended undercarriage offers it an edge in terms of stability when conducting activities like loading or accumulating snow.”
Nathan Ryan, Wacker Neuson's product manager for skid steer and compact track loaders, says that when it comes to snow removal, loaders are often outfitted in three different ways.
“To clear the snow, the first and most usual approach is to push or scrape,” he explains. “A plough blade, a larger snow push, or, most commonly, a bucket are used to perform this. Snow pushers are wider and taller than buckets, allowing them to clear a larger area more quickly.”
According to Ryan, because of their ability to clear huge areas, loaders with snow pusher attachments are frequently employed to clear parking lots. “[Snow pushers] can't lift, carry, or dump the snow, therefore they need considerable area to pile the snow on-site,” he adds.
“Another typical snow use is to use a broom attachment to sweep the snow. Brooms function effectively in light snow and long-run situations because they constantly move snow without requiring the forward/reverse cycles that pushing snow necessitates,” he says.
The final typical snow removal use, according to Ryan, is with a snow blower attachment.
“This arrangement excels at moving heavier snow from long-run scenarios, but it is the slowest of the three snow removal methods,” he explains.
Is it better to have wheels or tracks?
When asked which equipment he would recommend for snow removal, Ryan answers that in general, the SSL is the better machine because many of its qualities provide superior performance. SSLs are frequently faster, less expensive, and less weight than CTLs, according to him. Their tyres may also withstand wear better than CTL tracks.
“That being said, we've seen an increase in the use of CTLs in snow removal,” he says. “This is due in part to advancements in track technology, with track makers manufacturing all-season or multi-season tracks with increased traction in certain applications.”
The greatest reason why more track loaders are being employed in snow applications, according to Ryan, is because operators recognise CTL performance in non-snow applications. “If a firm or operator is going to buy a machine, they normally buy the equipment that delivers the highest performance during the nine months of the year when most of North America isn't using snow removal machines,” he says. “I've seen track loaders used extensively in snow applications even in some of Canada's more northern regions.”
Coleman echoed many of similar comments, praising both vehicles' remarkable snow clearing abilities.
“The adaptability of the SSL and CTL platforms in terms of snow clearing accessories is one of the common benefits,” he explains. “These machines have the operator comfort and hydraulic power to connect to a wide range of attachments, such as snow wings, angling ploughs, multi-v ploughs, straight ploughs, snow blowers, and snow pushes, and efficiently operate them.”
Because of the numerous attachments available for skid-steer and compact track loaders, they are extremely adaptable machines capable of performing a wide range of tasks, including trench digging. In some circumstances, a backhoe attachment put on a skid steer or compact track loader is more efficient than a specialised digging machine like a backhoe-loader.
An attachment will very certainly never be able to replace the 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 it as efficiently and productively as possible every day.
"From the mainframe structures 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 perform as efficiently as possible within the machine's existing design constraints."
To determine whether a backhoe attachment is appropriate for your customer's tasks, Hershberger recommends assessing the type of job they regularly conduct. Inquire if trenching is a once-in-a-while occurrence or a regular occurrence.
"A dedicated equipment will be more suited for someone who needs to undertake backhoe work every day," explains Ron Peters of CE Attachments. "A skid-steer loader can be used by a contractor that digs trenches on a regular basis."
Other factors to consider include any size constraints that may apply to most jobs, normal ground conditions and trenching specifications, and transportation requirements.
Here are some things to think about before pairing your customers with a backhoe attachment/skid steer combo or selling them a dedicated equipment.
Concerns about space
Due to its reduced size, a skid steer or compact track loader might provide some manoeuvrability advantages.
"It's easier to move around a project with a lower overall length," explains Bobcat's Justin Odegaard. "There may not be an advantage if all your consumer does is dig. However, if they're doing everything, such as trenching and backfilling, a shorter machine will allow them to get into smaller spaces." As a result, a backhoe and skid steer attachment would be appropriate.
Due to its steering technique, a skid-steer or compact track loader might potentially have an advantage in narrow locations. "Maneuverability is easier in general," Odegaard argues. "Front-wheel or all-wheel steer is available with a specialised machine. It may be more difficult to enter into tighter spaces with a longer package. You can squeeze yourself into some fairly tight spaces with a skid-steer or tiny track loader."
Considerations for soil conditions
The ability to use tracks is provided via a backhoe attachment. Compact track loaders, in particular, are capable of treading softly on a variety of task sites.
"Depending on where they work, that can make a tremendous difference," Odegaard says. "Having tracks can be advantageous if they're in sand or mud."
Working in established regions can also benefit from tracks. "Compact track loaders have a smaller footprint and lower ground pressure, which means they leave less of an imprint on the ground. If the sod is soft, they don't leave ruts "Odegaard continues.
How far do they have to dig?
If your customer requires a shallow, narrow trench, a backhoe attachment may be more appropriate. For example, you may use a backhoe that digs to a depth of 6 feet with a skid steer as narrow as 36 inches on some of Bobcat's smaller machines.
"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 fits through the gate and they don't have to knock down any fences," Odegaard says.
Machine for hauling
A skid-steer loader will often be lighter than a backhoe loader. That weight difference is important to consider, since the backhoe-greater loader's weight may necessitate a larger trailer and a CDL.
"You might be able to get away with a shorter trailer because of the shorter length of a skid-steer loader," Odegaard says.
It's a wonderful time for safety reminders as all types of construction projects gear up for spring and summer labour. A thorough bulletin titled "Preventing Injuries and Deaths from Skid Steer Loaders has been created by the National Institutes for Occupational Safety and Health. You can use this publication in training sessions, however we thought it was vital to share these three crucial skid steer safety guidelines with you:
When approaching and exiting the skid steer, use caution.
Always climb onto the loader with the lift-arm supports in place and the bucket flat on the ground.
Face the machine and maintain three points of contact on the steps and handholds to climb on.
Climbing on hand or foot controls is not recommended.
When it's time to get out, don't get out of your seat until the bucket has been lowered to the ground, the parking brake has been set, and the engine has been turned off.
Exit the skid steer using the same three-point-contact approach you used to get on.
Clean the walkways and other work areas so that the machine is ready for the next day or shift.
Observe safe working methods.
For your own safety:
Never try to operate the machine from outside the building. The operator's compartment is not only functional, but it also provides a safe environment for operators.
When operating the skid steer, take a seat to keep your balance.
When the cab is in operation, keep your legs, arms, and head inside.
While working, make sure you're wearing your seatbelt. Ensure that the restraint bar is securely in place. Any safety equipment should never be turned off.
Make sure onlookers or ground workers are far enough away to see them and avoid danger.
To ensure safe operation, follow these guidelines:
To avoid tipping, avoid turning the machine or loading/unloading on uneven ground. Traveling across slopes is seldom a good idea; instead, go straight up and down. The machine's heavy end should be facing upward.
On shaky ground, avoid using the skid steer.
When moving or turning, keep the bucket in the lowest position feasible.
Adhere to the recommended maintenance procedures.
Always follow the manufacturer's service and preventive maintenance instructions. A machine that has not been properly maintained is inviting mishaps and safety violations.
Keep the foot controls clear of dirt, snow, ice, and debris by cleaning them as needed.
Safety belts, restraint bars, side screens, interlocked controls, and the rollover protection framework should all be inspected and maintained on a regular basis (ROPS). Any safety device should never be turned off or tampered with.
Any maintenance activity should not be performed beneath an elevated bucket. If you don't have any other options, check sure the lift-arm supports are in place.
And we'll throw in a fourth skid steer safety tip: when operating a skid steer, it's not just the operators who need to be extra cautious. Those operating on the ground near loaders or other moving equipment must be mindful of their surroundings at all times. Even the most skilled operator does not always have complete visibility, especially when both machines and people are moving. It is everyone's responsibility to ensure that everyone is safe.
Certain jobs are more difficult than others, and your skid steer loader is one of those tools that can remove thick overgrowth and dense brush. What happens, however, if you need to cut down a tree on your property? Is your skid steer up to the challenge?
A skid steer is a dependable piece of equipment that can remove a stump from your project site — it simply requires a little more effort. Let's take a closer look at what goes into skid steer stump removal so you can get started on this project right away.
How Do I Get a Stump Removed With My Skid Steer?
Tree stumps can cause a lot of delays on construction sites. Large stumps must usually be avoided by your machine, which takes time away from your work. Instead of avoiding the issue, you can confront it with the appropriate skid steer attachments.
It takes the correct kind of attachment for your skid steer to remove a stump. Before you can remove the stump, you'll probably need many attachments.
If you're removing a stump from dense farmland or a commercial property site, the first step is to clear the area. Depending on the type of vegetation, the Annihilator, our new forestry disc mulcher, or the brush mower, or the Terminator brush cutter would be appropriate.
After you've cleared the area, you'll need to expose the dirt so you can begin removing the stump. You may quickly remove tiny stumps by utilising the root and grapple brush to remove loose earth and debris.
In most circumstances, removing medium-sized stumps with a skid steer stump bucket or stump grinder is the best option. However, if you want a skid steer attachment capable of removing larger trees, this can be more difficult. These attachments are most often useful for tiny trees. While the right equipment can get the job done, it may not be the most efficient method of tree removal.
If you don't have a stump bucket and need to get the job done quickly, utilise your skid steer to swiftly prepare and clear your area. To get rid of those troublesome stumps, use a powerful appliance like our tree slayer. They have excellent mulching teeth that can grind tiny stumps all the way down to the ground. The tree killer, unlike most construction equipment, is capable of going the distance.
When it comes to maintaining an enterprise running smoothly, we must occasionally switch out our equipment. It's all about generating effective outcomes so you can get back to what matters at the end of the day.
Bobcat: We supply Bobcat because we believe their product quality and service backup are exceptional, you can find information on their Bobcat's product range here on our site.
JCB: Ask any builder what a JCB is, and they'll most likely glance at you with a bewildered expression on their face. This is due to the fact that JCB is the most well-known skid steer loader brand in the world.