If you’re considering purchasing a compact loader for your landscape business, first take a look at your typical jobsite. Compact track loaders are becoming increasingly popular where the operation includes moving a lot of dirt, contouring the ground, pushing, lifting and backfilling.
“When a compact loader is on dirt most of the time, it may be in your best interest to upgrade from a rubber tire skid-steer loader to a compact track loader for improved productivity,” says Bryan Zent, marketing manager, Bobcat, a Doosan Infracore company.
Robert Beesley, product manager,
Komatsu Utility Division, says CTLs are becoming increasingly attractive to owners and operators because they work in conditions such as mud and snow where conventional wheel-type skid-steer loaders tend to struggle. “With a low 4 to 5 psi ground pressure, these machines prove superior in soft conditions or where minimum soil compaction is desired,” he says.
Zent says this advantage means CTL operators are less apt to have to wait an additional day or two for the ground to dry before they get back in the field. Also, they can get in the field earlier in the season and work later. With careful maneuvering, a CTL’s lower ground pressure also means less damage to established lawns. An operator can travel across finished landscapes without having to lay boards or mats down on the path, thus saving time and labor.
One of the typical drawbacks of the CTL is their speed (or lack thereof). Beesley points out Komatsu engineers addressed that issue from the time they entered the CTL
market. “Komatsu includes 2-speed transmission on every CTL as standard equipment and provides faster ground speed and loading cycles than machines with a typical single speed transmission,” he says. While some manufacturers, such as Bobcat, tout the strength and long life of steel-imbed tracks, other manufacturers such as Terex ASV say their lighter all-rubber tracks give their machines the ability to travel faster and offer more operator comfort.
Jodi Gulbraa, marketing product specialist, Terex ASV, says there are two major points to consider when purchasing a CTL. “The first is deciding what type of undercarriage technology to invest in, and the second is learning how to operate and maintain the machine to assure you are getting the best return on your investment.” Terex ASV recently introduced their Extreme Terrain Tracks. Terex’s track width of 16.5 inches versus the standard 15 inches spreads the machine’s weight for lower ground pressure. “A deeper tread and wider spacing between lugs makes the tracks self-cleaning to maintain traction in snow and sticky mud,” Gulbraa says.
A CTL can enhance the productivity of some attachments. “Some of the improved productivity can be traced to the loader’s operating weight,” Zent says. “A Bobcat T300 compact track loader weighs 9,702 pounds, while a comparable S300 skid-steer loader is 8,448 pounds. The extra weight allows the machine to have higher pushing forces, so compact track loaders particularly excel at grading and excavating applications.”
The weightier CTLs are also better able to handle pallets of sod, rock, trees or other heavy items due to their increased rated operating capacity. The ability to move more material in less time improves the user’s efficiency on jobsites.
A compact tract loader can cost $10,000 to $20,000 more than a comparable size skid-steer loader, but manufacturers such as Bobcat, eager to move their machines, are offering 0-percent financing to reduce monthly payments. Or consider leasing, where monthly payments are lower than loan payments and many programs include purchase options at the end of the term.
“It may be possible for someone to lease a compact track loader for the same amount they might pay to purchase a skid-steer loader,” Zent says. “Or, for the same monthly payment as purchasing a loader, someone could lease a machine with a couple of attachments.” TLC