Efficiently running a recycling/scrap handling operation often requires wheel loaders to switch between attachments several times each day. Choosing the right attachments for your application needs and knowing how to properly maintain them can help recyclers and contractors spend less time making these adjustments and increase their overall return on investment (ROI).
Couplers can dramatically improve the efficiency of a wheel loader. Providing increased attachment flexibility, couplers allow operators to safely switch between two completely different attachments in a matter of seconds without leaving the cab or requiring the assistance of another person. This means more productivity, less downtime and greater job efficiency, which translates into improved profitability.
When buying a wheel loader with a coupler, make sure the coupler has the proper interchange to work with your existing attachments. Most companies offer couplers with one of the many common industry interchanges as well as couplers with an interchange unique to a specific brand.
Other companies sell couplers that can work with more than one interchange. For example, the JRB Multi-Pick-Up Coupler, manufactured by Paladin Construction Group in Akron, Ohio, can pick up JRB 416 Series attachments as well as ISO attachments, designed to make it even easier for operators to switch between attachments.
The fit between the coupler and attachment is very important and should be checked regularly. With the coupler locked to the attachment, check the fit by rolling the attachment forward and measuring the gap between the stop block and the rib stop surface. In general, the maximum allowable gap is 0.080 inches (2.032 millimeter). Check your operator’s manual for exact measurements. A very tight fit may not allow free movement of the plungers.
It may seem like a simple attachment, but choosing the right bucket can help you perform specific jobs more efficiently—saving you time and money. Before you buy a bucket for your wheel loader, think about how you will be using it most often and what type of material you will be moving to choose the best fit for your application.
Recycling/scrap handling applications can wreak havoc on a machine. To protect it, you can add cab, machine and key component guarding and other equipment enhancements, such as fire suppression systems, cab risers, custom paint and theft-recovery systems.
One company that specializes in enhancing machines for extreme conditions is CustomWorks, a brand company of Paladin Construction Group, Akron, Ohio. It offers a range of engineering, manufacturing and installation products and services designed to help ensure a machine meets performance standards.
CustomWorks modifies newly purchased or current pieces of equipment at its custom facility or ships the necessary parts and kits directly to a nearby dealership.
Buckets to be considered include:
- General purpose buckets – Standard buckets appropriate for use in most basic hauling and loading applications.
- Refuse/transfer buckets – Specifically designed for use in landfill and transfer station applications, they feature a spill guard to help keep material in the bucket.
- Multipurpose buckets – One bucket, multiple tools; these buckets are desgined to convert easily to dig, load, spread, grab and doze.
- Side dump buckets – Use these buckets to easily dump material from the side in confined, hard-to-maneuver areas.
It is important to know the size and hydraulic capabilities of your wheel loader as well as the weight and abrasiveness of the material you will be hauling before purchasing a bucket attachment. Depending on its size, a wheel loader can only handle a certain capacity. If you aren’t sure what bucket attachment is best for your machine and application, ask your local dealer.
“Our dealers are trained to ask specific questions when customers come in to buy a bucket attachment,” comments Jamie Adams, JRB sales and product manager for Paladin Construction Group. “If they can tell their dealer the size of their machine and what kind of conditions they’re up against, he can recommend the right bucket for them.”
Designed to help you pick up bulky, unusually shaped or long materials, grapple attachments contain material that would not stay in an ordinary bucket. Grapples will help hold oddly shaped materials tightly in place since their bulky shape and size may prevent them from staying in the bucket.
Depending on the requirements of your job, you can minimize time spent switching between attachments by purchasing a grapple/bucket combination attachment.
Available in a wide variety of carriage and tine lengths, fork attachments help extend your wheel loader’s versatility when transporting pallets and items such as pipes and logs.
It is important to always space your fork attachment tines correctly for the load you will be handling. Also, make sure forks are completely under a load before lifting it. Loads can fall off of incorrectly spaced forks.
Buyers can choose from the following fork attachments for a recycling/scrap handling operation:
- Car body forks – Designed specifically for use in auto salvage yards, car body forks feature tapered tines with beveled tips to ensure easy separation of cars from a load. Most are available in two lengths to handle cars the long way or the wide way.
- Construction utility forks – These can turn a wheel loader into a versatile heavy-duty forklift to safely transport large loads. Drop-forged, fixed tines provide increased sturdiness and reduce material movement over uneven terrain.
- Utility pallet forks – These standard fork attachments are designed to lift and transport pallets and other long materials with ease.
Increase Attachment Lifespan
Attachments may need to be stored for an extended time. Storing them properly can help to keep these attachments in top condition. This can be a big asset in increasing ROI. Following these steps can help keep attachments running smoother and longer:
- Clean the attachment thoroughly, removing all mud, dirt and grease.
- Inspect for visible signs of wear, breakage or damage. Order any parts required and make the necessary repairs to avoid delays when starting next season.
- Tighten all loose nuts, capscrews and hydraulic connections.
- Lubricate all grease fittings.
- Coat the exposed portions of the cylinder rods with grease.
- Connect the hydraulic couplers together to protect the hydraulic system from contaminants.
- Touch up all unpainted and exposed areas with paint to prevent rust.
- Replace damaged decals.
- Store the attachment in a dry, protected place with a cover, if possible. Leaving the attachment outside will materially shorten its life.
Take time upfront to choose the best attachments fitting an application. This, along with proper storage, can increase the life span of a wheel loader and attachments, providing greater ROI.
The author is vice president of marketing and business development for Paladin Construction Group, which includes JRB Attachments and CustomWorks, based in Akron, Ohio.