The Wheel Loader: Everything You Need To Know

April 5, 2021
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What is a Wheel Loader?

Wheel loaders are a powerful and versatile piece of heavy equipment that can be found on most construction sites. A giant mobile shovel, a wheel loader is used to scoop material into trucks or to transport it around a job site. Wheel loaders can lift almost anything including rubble, gravel, soil, debris and dirt.

The term “wheel loader” refers to the transportation method of the machine and the job it does best. A wheel loader kind of looks like a bulldozer but has wheels instead of a continual track system. Where the bulldozer has a flat blade for pushing material around, a loader sports a bucket to scoop, move and dump material.

Because of the wheels a loader has better maneuverability on roads and does not damage finished asphalt or concrete. Loaders do not dig like a backhoe loader but operate only with the single attachment at the front of the machine.

Wheel loaders (also called wheeled loaders or front loaders) have many other names like front-end loaders, front loaders, bucket loader, scoop loaders and skip loaders.

Loaders come in a variety of sizes which make them helpful for any construction project. No project is too big or too small for a loader. They are bigger and more powerful than a skid steer and are available in a variety of sizes for all different projects and industries. From landscaping to construction, loaders are a handy machine for all different contractors.

 

What Can a Loader Be Used For?

Loaders are often seen on construction sites and excavation jobs. Its large bucket is handy for scooping and moving dirt and rocks away from an excavation site and loading it into trucks. Loaders can also help to transport material around site.

Loaders are also seen in agriculture and landscaping projects. They can be used to build roads, prepare a job site or assist in cleanup after a project is completed.

Small and compact loaders are popular for landscaping companies and contractors for moving materials. Choosing a wheel loader with a bucket size of 1 yard is great for these types of jobs, especially since the loader bucket can be replaced with forks, rakes, and stump grinders.

Mid-sized loaders which range from 3 – 5 yards in bucket size are popular for moving more materials and heavier material types. They are more popular on construction site.

The larger wheel loaders are 7 – 8 yards. These machines are popular for loading gravel trucks or on more heavy-duty projects.

Choosing the Right Loader for The Job

It is always important to choose the kind of wheel loader for a project based on the expectations for a piece of equipment and the nature of the job. There are a lot of smaller specialized pieces of equipment that have been developed and choosing the best piece of equipment for your job helps to keep your project running efficiently.

Wheel loaders are a great choice when a skid steer is too small but the digger on a backhoe is not needed. Planning out where the job is and what the wheel loader needs to do can help direct what size of wheel loader should be rented and which attachments will be needed for the job.

Most wheel loaders are rented by bucket size: how many yards of material can the equipment bucket lift and move. It is important to be realistic about what is needed and the size of the worksite.

Attachments for Wheel Loaders

DOZR has wheel loaders available for rent with bucket sizes ranging from 1 yard to 7 yards. The job of a loader can change if the loader bucket is swapped out for other attachments. There are a variety of other attachments available for a wheel loader. A few examples are:
– Forks
– Couplers
– Lifting jibs
– Rakes
– Pushers
– Shovels
– Augers
– Brooms
– Stump grinders

With these attachments the list of things of capabilities for a wheel loader grows. Wheel loaders can then be used to clear forests, move other equipment and heavier materials, clear landscapes, snow removal, digging holes and so much more.

The History of the Wheel Loader

Like with many other equipment types the history of the wheel loader is not a clear path of one man or company but a collection of discoveries and inventions by a number of people all over the world. In the 1920s agriculture tractors were fitted with a scoop-shovel mechanism to help scoop and move materials. This is recognized as one of the first times that a machine resembling a wheel loader was used.

The invention of the wheel loader as it is recognized today is credited to Volvo Construction Equipment in 1954. It was called the H10 and was based on a tractor with rear-wheel drive. Since then, the wheel loader has been adapted and improved. By the 1960s more companies started developing wheel loaders.

All adaptations and variations contributed to the end result of the modern wheel loader. New ideas and patents continue to be filed. Caterpillar, Komatsu and Yanmar all went on to file separate patents for the wheeled loader between 1989 and 2014. The addition of safety devices to prevent slipping improved attachment maneuvering, updated wheel loader design and engine covers have all been involved in these patents.

Manufacturers and Models of Wheel Loaders

Whether you are looking to rent or buy a wheel loader there are a variety of manufacturers and models to consider. Most manufacturers make wheel loaders in compact, mid-sized and large sizes. Some companies also make mining loaders that have massive buckets and incredibly powerful engines. Below are a few common manufacturers and models of wheel loaders.

Caterpillar

Caterpillar was founded in 1925 by Benjamin Holt. He invented the continual track system which ultimately lead to the development of the bulldozer. The new machine looked like a caterpillar crawling along the ground and that name followed him as he established Caterpillar INC. Since then Caterpillar (CAT) has grown to be one of the most well known and recognized brands in heavy equipment.

CAT now offers compact, small, medium and large wheel loaders, ranging in weight from under 30,000 lbs all the way over 60,000 lbs. The heaviest wheel loader on their website is the 994K mining wheel loader. With a 1,739 hp engine this machine weighs over 534,850 lbs with a bucket capacity of over 30 cubic yards.

Komatsu

Komatsu was born in Japan in 1917 and established in North America later on in 1970. Named after the city of Komatsu in the Hokuriku region of Japan, the name “Komatsu” translates to “little pine tree” in English. Now one of the world’s leading suppliers and manufacturers of heavy equipment and the second largest producer of machines, Komatsu is anything but little.

Komatsu loaders feature innovative hydraulic power with drive train technology. Making a variety of loaders from mid-sized up to giant mining wheel loader beats. They offer three models of mid-sized loaders ranging between 125 – 175 hp.

Wacker Neuson

A leading global manufacturing company, Wacker Neuson Group is a parent company that develops, produces and distributes compaction equipment, worksite tech, compact construction equipment and concrete tech. It was first established in 1848 by Johann Christian Wacker after he opened up a blacksmith shop in Dresden. The company filed for their first patent in 1930 for an electric rammer for soil compaction. Since then the company has grown and now has over 50 affiliates and over 12,000 sales and service partners across the globe.

Wacker Neuson offers a variety of articulated wheel loaders and wheel loader attachment tools. Ranging from 47 to 100 hp all wheel loaders offer all-wheel steering for excellent maneuverability, increased payloads and unmatched machine stability.

The 8085 T4F boasts exceptional weight to power ratio with a long wheelbase for smooth driving and easy handling. It features a 74 hp engine and has an operating weight of 10,471.9 lbs.

John Deere

Starting as a humble blacksmith in the early 1800’s John Deere’s first invention was the polished steel plow. Today John Deere is one of the most well known and globally recognized brands in both agriculture and construction equipment.

John Deere produces compact, mid-size and large wheel loaders in a variety of strengths and sizes. With over 15 models of wheel loaders with engines ranging from 61 to 536 hp, there are many kinds of John Deere loaders to choose from.

Potential Hazards & Safety Protocols for Wheel Loaders

The operation of any and all kinds of heavy equipment creates a level of hazard. Any employees that will be tasked with the operation of heavy equipment must receive proper training about safe operation and safety protocols.

Wheel loaders are used for lifting extremely heavy loads. There are a number of common safety incidents and hazards associated with them.

1) Tipping

Lifting heavy loads up high to load into a truck or for dumping adjusts the center of gravity of the loader. The higher the load is lifted up the more unstable the machine can become and the danger of tipping increases.

Always transport loads low to the ground and keep a loaded bucket below the tractor for extra stability. When carrying loads down a steep hill, travel backward down the hill in reverse to maintain the equipment’s center of gravity. Never go over the max weight set for a piece of equipment and never lift more than the equipment can handle.

2) Rollovers

While loaders are capable of working on uneven terrain there is an increase in instability when working on hills or more dangerous terrain like loose rocks or gravel. Be aware of the terrain that equipment is being operated on and consider moving only a half load if it feels unsafe. Any instability can be dangerous. Always take time to survey the worksite before beginning operation.

3) Bystander Injuries

When operating a loader be sure to be aware of those around the equipment and use all safety protocols to keep the equipment visible. If the back-up signal isn’t functioning get it fixed immediately. Look for people walking under or near the loader bucket or lifting arms before raising or lowering a loader bucket.

Wheel Loader – FAQ

What does “Wheel Loader” mean?

A wheel loader is a piece of heavy machinery. It is a tractor-like cab fitted with four large tires and has a bucket loader at the front. It is used mainly for scooping and moving material in construction, agriculture, or landscaping industries. It is also just called a loader. A loader can be fitted with a number of other attachments to help diversify the use of the machine.

What size of loader do I need?

Like with any equipment the size of wheel loader you need depends on the nature of the project. All wheel loaders are subject to maximum weight restrictions and cubic yard bucket sizes. The first step in choosing any kind of heavy equipment is to know what the equipment needs to do for the project and what the site of the project looks like.

It is also good to ask what kind and size of equipment makes a project the most productive and efficient. It can be more economical and efficient in the long run to rent two or three specialized pieces of equipment instead of renting a general equipment piece for the whole project.

If you need help finding what type of equipment is best for your job call DOZR at 1-844-997-0150 and speak to a team member about your project.

What are wheel loaders used for?

Wheel loaders can be used for a variety of projects and tasks. With so many kinds of attachments a wheel loader is a multi purpose machine capable of almost anything. Wheel loaders can be used for living and moving material like soil, dirt, rocks, debris, snow, animal feet, sand, woodchips, etc. either around a site or to dump into a dump truck, feed-hopper or conveyer belt.

A wheel loader could also be fitted with a variety of attachments like augers, brooms, rakes, shovels, pushers, stump grinders and snow plows.

How long to wheel loader tires last?

The lifespan of a wheel loader and its tires depends on a few factors. The kinds of jobs that the equipment is used for as well as the level of maintenance and upkeep can affect the longevity of both the tires and the machine as a whole.

Tires that are going over quarry rocks all day long will not last as long as ones being driven over the grass of a sunny farm. It is important to be realistic about the lifestyle your equipment will have and to take these factors into consideration for the wear and tear that equipment will see.

The typical tire can last anywhere between 2,000 and 3,500 hours depending on the nature of the job type and equipment use.

Can I rent a wheel loader?

Yes, wheel loaders can be rented. Search for wheel loader rentals on DOZR. DOZR offers daily, weekly and monthly rentals. Attachments can also be requested to go with the rental.

How long can I rent a wheel loader for?

From daily to long-term rentals there is no limit on the rental length for a wheel loader. Same-day delivery (when applicable) is available on DOZR and there are different price options for daily, weekly or monthly loader rentals.

How much does it cost to rent a wheel loader?

The rental cost of a wheel loader varies depending on how long the rental is for, whom the supplier is and where you request the equipment. On DOZR every price – from high to low and for long-term to short-term rentals – are available with one search in one place.

Kevin Forestell

Kevin Forestell is CEO of DOZR and one of the co-founders. Kevin first got started as an entrepreneur when he founded Forestell Landscaping right after graduating from University. His love and passion for the industry and desire to help solve an equipment problem that contractors faced every day is what brought the founding team to start DOZR. Kevin is proud of the level of efficiency brought to the industry through DOZR and hopes that DOZR will help change the standard way equipment is rented.

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