A loader is a heavy equipment machine used in construction to move or load materials such as soil, rock, sand, demolition debris, etc. into or onto another type of machinery (such as a dump truck, conveyor belt, feed-hopper, or railroad car).
There are many types of loader, which, depending on design and application, are variously called a bucket loader, front loader, front-end loader, payloader, high lift, scoop, shovel, skip loader, wheel loader, or skid-steer.
A loader is a type of tractor, usually wheeled, sometimes on tracks, that has a front-mounted wide bucket connected to the end of two booms (arms) to scoop up loose material from the ground, such as dirt, sand or gravel, and move it from one place to another without pushing the material across the ground. A loader is commonly used to move a stockpiled material from ground level and deposit it into an awaiting dump truck or into an open trench excavation.
The loader assembly may be a removable attachment or permanently mounted. Often the bucket can be replaced with other devices or tools—for example, many can mount forks to lift heavy pallets or shipping containers, and a hydraulically opening "clamshell" bucket allows a loader to act as a light dozer or scraper. The bucket can also be augmented with devices like a bale grappler for handling large bales of hay or straw.
Large loaders, such as the Kawasaki 95ZV-2, John Deere 844K, ACR 700K Compact Wheel Loader, Caterpillar 950H, Volvo L120E, Case 921E, or Hitachi ZW310 usually have only a front bucket and are called front loaders, whereas small loader tractors are often also equipped with a small backhoe and are called backhoe loaders or loader backhoes or JCBs, after the company that first claimed to have invented them. Other companies like CASE in America and Whitlock in the UK had been manufacturing excavator loaders well before JCB.
The largest loader in the world is LeTourneau L-2350. Currently these large loaders are in production in the Longview, Texas facility. The L-2350 uses a diesel-electric propulsion system similar to that used in a locomotive. Each rubber tired wheel is driven by its own independent electric motor.
Loaders are used mainly for loading materials into trucks, laying pipe, clearing rubble, and digging. A loader is not the most efficient machine for digging as it cannot dig very deep below the level of its wheels, like a backhoe or an excavator can. The capacity of a loader bucket can be anywhere from 0.5 to 36 m3depending upon the size of the machine and its application. The front loader's bucket capacity is generally much bigger than a bucket capacity of a backhoe loader.
Unlike most bulldozers, most loaders are wheeled and not tracked, although track loaders are common. They are successful where sharp-edged materials in construction debris would damage rubber wheels, or where the ground is soft and muddy. Wheels provide better mobility and speed and do not damage paved roads as much as tracks, but provide less traction.
In construction areas loaders are also used to transport building materials such as bricks, pipe, metal bars, and digging tools over short distances.
Front-loaders are commonly used to remove snow especially from sidewalks, parking lots, and other areas too small for using snowplows and other heavy equipment. They are sometimes used as snowplows with a snowplow attachment but commonly have a bucket or snow basket, which can also be used to load snow into the rear compartment of a snowplow or dump truck.
High-tip buckets are suitable for light materials such as chip, peat and light gravel and when the bucket is emptied from a height.
Unlike backhoes or standard tractors fitted with a front bucket, many large loaders do not use automotive steering mechanisms. Instead, they steer by a hydraulically actuated pivot point set exactly between the front and rear axles. This is referred to as "articulated steering" and allows the front axle to be solid, allowing it to carry greater weight. Articulated steering provides better maneuverability for a given wheelbase. Since the front wheels and attachment rotate on the same axis, the operator is able to "steer" his load in an arc after positioning the machine, which can be useful. The tradeoff is that when the machine is "twisted" to one side and a heavy load is lifted high, it has a greater risk of turning over to the "wide" side.
Front loaders gained popularity during the last two decades, especially in urban engineering projects and small earthmoving works. Heavy equipment manufacturers offer a wide range of loader sizes and duties.
The term "loader" is also used in the debris removal field to describe the boom on a grapple truck.
The major components included in a loader are the engine (diesel in almost all cases), the hydraulic components (such as pumps, motors and valves) and the transmission components (gearbox, axles, wheels/tracks, pumps, motors, etc.). The engine runs both the hydraulics and the transmission, and these in turn move the front attachment (a bucket, forks, sweeper, etc.) to manipulate the material being handled, and the wheels or tracks to move the machine around the jobsite.
The first wheel loader was invented by Volvo Construction Equipment in 1954, it was called H10.Back then it was based on a tractor and had a rear wheel drive. Today wheel loaders are articulated and the rear and front wheels are the same dimensions.
The Israeli Combat Engineering Corps uses armored Caterpillar 966 wheel loaders for construction and combat engineering missions in militarily occupied territories such as the West Bank. They are often seen building or removing road blocks and building bases and fortifications. Since 2005, they have also been used to demolish small houses. The Israel Defense Forces added armor plating to the loader to protect it against rocks, stones, molotov cocktails, and light gunfire.
Rio de Janeiro's police elite squad Batalhão de Operações Policiais Especiais (BOPE) has acquired one wheel loader designed for military use to open routes and make way for the police in Rio de Janeiro's slums, which are controlled, and blocked, by drugdealers.
Several if not most countries have similar equipment. The Dutch armed forces for instance use models like the Werklust WG18Edef, which weighs 15 tons, 2 more than the corresponding unarmored civilian model. In addition, the Dutch military previously used extra armor modules covering most of the window surface with steel for extra protection. These were however not popular with the crews due to low visibility.
The Turkish Army and Turkish Police use remote controlled armored wheel loader Tosun during the building of the Syria–Turkey barrier, the Operation Euphrates Shield, Operation Idlib Shield) and Operation Olive Branch.
These loaders are a popular addition to tractors from 50 to 200 hp. Its current 'drive-in' form was originally designed and developed in 1958 by a Swedish company named Ålö when they launched their Quicke loader. Tractor loaders were developed to perform a multitude of farming tasks, and are popular due to their relatively low cost (compared to Telehandler) and high versatility. Tractor loaders can be fitted with many attachments such as hydraulic grabs and spikes to assist with bale and silage handling, forks for pallet work, and buckets for more general farm activities. Industrial tractor loaders equipped with box graders are marketed to contractors as skip loaders.
Abram Dietrich Thiessen of Eyebrow Saskatchewan in the 1940s built the first quick attach front end loader. International Harvester's took a picture of the loader and replicated it at the Regina Agribition in November of the same year.
Front-end loaders (FELs) are popular additions to compact utility tractors and farm tractors. Compact utility tractors, also called CUTs, are small tractors, typically with 18 to 50 horsepower (37 kW) and used primarily for grounds maintenance and landscape chores. There are 2 primary designs of compact tractor FELs, the traditional dogleg designed style and the curved arm style.
John Deere manufactures a semi-curved loader design that does not feature the one piece curved arm, but also is not of the traditional two piece design. New Holland introduced a compact loader with a one piece curved arm on its compact utility tractors, similar one piece curved arm loaders are now available on compact tractors on many brands including Case IH/Farmall, and some Montana and Kioti tractors. Kubota markets traditional loader designs on most of its compact tractors but now features a semi-curved loader design similar to the John Deere loader design on several of its small tractors.
While the front-end loaders on CUT size tractors are capable of many tasks, given their relatively small size and low capacities when compared to commercial loaders, the compact loaders can be made more useful with some simple options. A toothbar is commonly added to the front edge of a loader bucket to aid with digging. Some loaders are equipped with a quick coupler, otherwise known as a quick attach(QA) system. The QA system allows the bucket to be removed easily and other tools to be added in its place. Common additions include a set of pallet forks for lifting pallets of goods or a bale spear for lifting hay bales.
LHD (Load, Haul, Dump machine) is also a front end loader but meant to be used for mine compact conditions, can handle various range of loads with varying size of buckets, and can be driven with electric motors as well as diesel engines.
A skid loader is a small loader utilizing four wheels with hydraulic drive that directs power to either, or both, sides of the vehicle. Very similar in appearance and design is the track loader, which utilizes a continuous track on either side of the vehicle instead of the wheels. Since the expiration of Bobcat's patent on its quick-connect system, newer tractor models are standardizing that popular format for front end attachments.
A swingloader is a rigid frame loader with a swinging boom. The boom can swing 180 degrees or more. Swingloaders are primarily used by the railroad industry to lay rail. Like other loaders many attachments can be attached to the boom such as magnets, forks, and buckets. Smaller swingloaders are used in farming applications for loading out. A swinging boom is advantageous where space is limited. The loader is able to lift on all sides and dump off on all sides.
A tractor is an engineering vehicle specifically designed to deliver a high tractive effort at slow speeds, for the purposes of hauling a trailer or machinery such as that used in agriculture, mining or construction. Most commonly, the term is used to describe a farm vehicle that provides the power and traction to mechanize agricultural tasks, especially tillage, but nowadays a great variety of tasks. Agricultural implements may be towed behind or mounted on the tractor, and the tractor may also provide a source of power if the implement is mechanised.
A skid loader, skid-steer loader or skidsteer is a small, rigid-frame, engine-powered machine with lift arms that can attach to a wide variety of labor-saving tools or attachments.
Excavators are heavy construction equipment consisting of a boom, dipper, bucket and cab on a rotating platform known as the "house". The house sits atop an undercarriage with tracks or wheels. They are a natural progression from the steam shovels and often mistakenly called power shovels. All movement and functions of a hydraulic excavator are accomplished through the use of hydraulic fluid, with hydraulic cylinders and hydraulic motors. Due to the linear actuation of hydraulic cylinders, their mode of operation is fundamentally different from cable-operated excavators which use winches and steel ropes to accomplish the movements.
A bulldozer or dozer is a large motorized machine that travels on tracks and is equipped with a metal blade to the front for pushing material: soil, sand, snow, rubble, or rock during construction or conversion work. Bulldozers are also called crawlers. When needed, a hook-like device can be mounted on the rear to loosen dense materials. Bulldozers can be found on a wide range of sites, mines and quarries, military bases, heavy industry factories, engineering projects, and farms. The word "bulldozer" refers to only a tractor fitted with a dozer blade. The word is sometimes used inaccurately for other earth moving equipment such as front loaders.
A backhoe—also called rear actor or back actor—is a type of excavating equipment, or digger, consisting of a digging bucket on the end of a two-part articulated arm. It is typically mounted on the back of a tractor or front loader, the latter forming a "backhoe loader". The section of the arm closest to the vehicle is known as the boom, while the section that carries the bucket is known as the dipper, both terms derived from steam shovels. The boom is generally attached to the vehicle through a pivot known as the king-post, which allows the arm to pivot left and right, usually through a total of 180 to 200 degrees.
A backhoe loader, also called a loader backhoe, digger in layman's terms, or colloquially shortened to backhoe within the industry, is a heavy equipment vehicle that consists of a tractor-like unit fitted with a loader-style shovel/bucket on the front and a backhoe on the back. Due to its (relatively) small size and versatility, backhoe loaders are very common in urban engineering and small construction projects as well as developing countries. This type of machine is similar to and derived from what is now known as a TLB (Tractor-Loader-Backhoe), which is to say, an agricultural tractor fitted with a front loader and rear backhoe attachment.
Heavy equipment or heavy machinery refers to heavy-duty vehicles, specially designed for executing construction tasks, most frequently ones involving earthwork operations or other large construction tasks. Heavy equipment usually comprises five equipment systems: implementation, traction, structure, power train, control and information.
A dragline excavator is a piece of heavy equipment used in civil engineering and surface mining.
A grader, also commonly referred to as a road grader, motor grader, or simply a blade, is a form of heavy equipment with a long blade used to create a flat surface during grading. Although the earliest models were towed behind horses, and later tractors, most modern graders are self-propelled and thus technically "motor graders".
A dump truck, known also as a dumper truck or tipper truck, is used for transporting dumps for construction as well as coal. A typical dump truck is equipped with an open-box bed, which is hinged at the rear and equipped with hydraulic rams to lift the front, allowing the material in the bed to be deposited ("dumped") on the ground behind the truck at the site of delivery. In the UK, Australia and India the term applies to off-road construction plant only, and the road vehicle is known as a tipper lorry, tip-truck, tip-trailer, tipper truck, or tipper.
A telescopic handler, also called a telehandler, teleporter, reach forklift, or zoom boom, is a machine widely used in agriculture and industry. It is somewhat like a forklift but has a boom, making it more a crane than a forklift, with the increased versatility of a single telescopic that can extend forwards and upwards from the vehicle. The boom can be fitted with different attachments, such as a bucket, pallet forks, muck grab, or winch.
A bucket-wheel excavator (BWE) is a large heavy equipment machine used in surface mining.
Case Construction Equipment is a brand of construction equipment from CNH Industrial. Case produces construction equipment including excavators, motor graders, wheel loaders, vibratory compaction rollers, crawler dozers, skid steers, and compact track loaders.
A compact or mini excavator is a tracked or wheeled vehicle with an approximate operating weight from 0.7 to 8.5 tonnes. It generally includes a standard backfill blade and features independent boom swing.
A trencher is a piece of construction equipment used to dig trenches, especially for laying pipes or electrical cables, for installing drainage, or in preparation for trench warfare. Trenchers may range in size from walk-behind models, to attachments for a skid loader or tractor, to very heavy tracked heavy equipment.
An articulated hauler, articulated dump truck (ADT), or sometimes a dump hauler, is a very large heavy duty type of dump truck used to transport loads over rough terrain, and occasionally on public roads. The vehicle usually has all-wheel drive and consists of two basic units: the front section, generally called the tractor, and the rear section that contains the dump body, called the hauler or trailer section. Steering is made by pivoting the front in relation to the back by hydraulic rams. This way, all wheels follow the same path, making it an excellent off-road vehicle.
The Caterpillar 930G is a hydraulic front end loader manufactured by Caterpillar Inc. The 930G, with 149 hp of net flywheel power at 2300 rpm, it is classified as a small wheeled loader in the line of Caterpillar's excavators. The MSRP of a standard 930G is $145,400.
A bucket is a specialized container attached to a machine, as compared to a bucket adapted for manual use by a human being. It is a bulk material handling component.
GPS when applied in the earthmoving industry can be a viable asset to contractors and increase the overall efficiency of the job. Since GPS satellite positioning information is free to the public, it allows for everyone to take advantage of its uses. Heavy equipment manufacturers in conjunction with GPS guidance system manufacturers have been co-developing GPS guidance systems for heavy equipment since the late 1990s. These systems allow the equipment operator to use GPS position data to make decisions based on actual grade and design features. Some heavy equipment guidance systems can even operate the machine's implements automatically from a set design that was created for the particular jobsite. GPS guidance systems can have tolerances as small as two to three centimeters making them extremely accurate compared to relying on the operator's skill level. Since the machine's GPS system has the ability to know when it is off the design grade, this can reduce surveying and material costs required for a specific job.
Quick couplers are used with construction machines to allow the rapid change of buckets and attachments on the machine. They remove the need to use hammers to manually drive out and insert the mounting pins for attachments. They also bring with them additional safety risks that must be overcome by careful design and manufacture, and proper use.
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