Editor's Note: This story was updated June 7, 2023 with new products.
Though more prevalent in Europe, tiltrotators have been gaining in popularity in the U.S. That increased popularity was definitely on display at ConExpo 2023, with many manufacturers demonstrating tiltrotators on their excavators.
The attachments rotate 360 degrees and tilt side to side anywhere from 40 to 50 degrees, depending on the manufacturer.
Benefits of tiltrotators include less need to move the excavator to dig or perform other tasks because of the flexible movement of the attachment. They also speed up production. Some manufacturers estimate a 1,500-hour return on investment because of the increased efficiency. The additional attachment movement enables more precision, as well.
All of the tiltrotators offer hydraulic coupler options and quick attach systems that enable the operator to stay in the cab to change tools. They can also be attached manually, directly to the excavator.
Tiltrotators can operate such tools as buckets, grapples, compactors, forks, rippers, sweepers – just about any attachment a contractor would want to use.
Another benefit is that most of the tiltrotator manufacturers provide modular quick attach systems that enable the operator to switch easily between attachments, including hydraulic hookups. That often means requiring fewer machines and personnel on a jobsite. The excavator essentially becomes a toolcarrier.
Another development in the tiltrotator world concerns setting a universal international standard for couplers. Some manufacturers are adopting an Open-S industry standard for their fully automatic couplers that will work on any manufacturer's attachments that follow the standard.
Here’s a look at what’s currently on the tiltrotator market:
The big news out of Engcon for 2023 is that its automatic EC-Oil quick coupler system is now standard – not an option – on all of its tiltrotators and tools with S40 to S80 machine couplers. This allows operators to quickly attach and detach tools, including hydraulic hookups, without leaving the cab.
EC-Oil for tiltrotators is available for excavators in the 4- to 33-metric-ton weight classes. Engcon also produces tiltrotators for excavators weighing as little as 1.5 metric tons, and those have an integrated hydraulic quick coupler. In all, the company has eight models of tiltrotators in its EC line.
The EC-Oil coupler fits above and below the tiltrotator and on the tool itself and can be used with hydraulic as well as mechanical attachments. The company says operators can use it to quickly detach the tilltrotator and connect it directly to the bucket for extra breakout force and less weight. It has no visible hoses or electrical cables that move around when connecting.
The tiltrotator system has a new high-flow swivel for hydraulic flows up to 53 gallons per minute.
The company also recently launched a new quick coupler for 12- to 19-metric-ton excavators. The S60 is stronger and can be more easily retrofitted to the EC-Oil system.
Engon’s tiltroators also come with standard tilt and rotation sensors for connecting with the excavator’s machine control system.
Steelwrist continues to expand its line of SQ quick couplers for its tiltrotator systems. Its new SQ50 range targets mid-size excavators ranging from 7 to 13 metric tons, and its new SQ90 focuses on larger excavators up to 70 metric tons.
The SQ system provides fully automatic oil and high-flow connections on the top and bottom of the tiltrotator for rapid changes between the tiltrotator and other work tools. The new system adds 20% more hydraulic-oil flow capacity, the company says.
The X12 and X14 tiltrotators are redesigned with a new top and attachment coupler in order to make it possible to upgrade from S50 to SQ50 at a later time.
All Steelwrist SQ products follow the global Open-S industry standard for fully automatic couplers for excavators. The standard is designed to give operators and contractors the ability to combine quick couplers, tiltrotators and work tools regardless of the attachments’ manufacturer.
Last year, Steelwrist launched its X02 tiltrotator for excavators ranging from 1.6 to 2.7 metric tons. It is compatible with a range of S30 work tools for grading, digging, trenching, asphalt cutting, ripping, and most recently, a multi-grapple was added.
Steelwrist offers a range of tiltrotators for excavators and backhoes between 1.6 and 33 metric tons. Its X series consists of 10 models.
Rototilt has been busy rolling out new tiltrotators, along with new joysticks to operate them, a new control system and an app.
The latest in the expanding RC tiltrotator line are the RC4, RC6 and RC8. The new tiltrotator series – for excavators ranging from 10 to 43 metric tons – features “pressure-compensated hydraulics” for greater energy efficiency, control and easier use than the company’s R Series. The system uses Rototilt’s optional QuickChange for fully automatic tool switches from the cab.
The company has also launched new ergonomic RC Joysticks that it says are designed for “a wide range of hand sizes without compromising fit.” They deliver greater precision for the RC tiltrotators. The company’s new RC System 4.3-inch touch display is larger than its predecessor and enables easier operation, including of its SecureLock attachment system for increased safety. It has launched a mobile RC Connect app for remote assistance. The company’s RPS works with the excavator’s 3D machine control system to display the tiltrotator's exact position in real time.
Rototilt is also making its RC tiltrotators and systems compactible with the new Open-S industry standard for couplers.
To accompany its new tiltrotators and control systems, Rotilt has unveiled its new generation of multi- and sorting grapples designed to be more powerful and durable than their predecessors.
Combined with its R and new RC series, Rotilt now offers 12 models of tiltrotators for excavators ranging from 1.5 to 43 metric tons.
Kinshofer’s Nox Tiltrotator lineup consists of six models for excavators ranging from 2 to 25 metric tons. Along with 360-degree rotation, they have a tilt angle of 50 degrees. The tiltrotators can be mounted directly on the excavator arm (direct mount) or as sandwich-design by attaching it to the excavator arm with a quick coupler. You can choose between mechanical, hydraulic or fully hydraulic quick change systems. The compact design with the fully integrated tilt and rotation unit protects against damage. There are no protruding cylinders or piston rods that can be damaged, and low construction ensures a higher breakout force. An optional integrated gripper provides an additional attachment for handling poles, tubes and curb stones. The gripper is integrated at the lower quick coupler and does not affect the height or the attachment cross-movement. The tiltrotators come GPS-ready and use the NoxProp+ or NoxProp Control System for using the most common 3D machine control systems. The company announced this year that it has joined the Open-S Alliance, which includes Steelwrist and Rototilt, in developing a universal standard for combining quick couplers, tiltrotators and work tools from different manufacturers through the Open-S standard.
Over the past year, Caterpillar has expanded its Tilt Rotate System lineup to its compact excavators. The TRS series of tiltrotators now covers excavators ranging from 3 to 35 tons. The newer TRS4, TRS6 and TRS8 models are compatible for 302.7 through 310 next-generation compact excavators. Cat partners with Rototilt for its tiltrotators but also added its own designs to speed up installation time to as little as four hours. The tiltrotators can also directly connect to the excavator’s machine control systems. TRS models have two interfaces: a top interface that connects the TRS to the carrier machine and a bottom interface that connects various work tools to the TRS. The TRS models come in different coupler configurations, such as an S-type coupler for both the top and bottom interfaces or a pin-on top interface and pin-grabber coupler bottom interface. Other features include a reinforced gearbox with a bearing ring that distributes working forces to reduce stress on the TRS and the host machine. A double-acting tilt cylinder has integrated load-hold valves that sustain holding pressures and prevent cylinder movement under load. The cylinder also features hardened pistons and maintenance-free bearings, and its surfaces are scratch-resistant and rust-proof.
The OQTR four-model lineup of tiltrotators from OilQuick is for excavators ranging from 9 to 33 metric tons. The system is based on Engcon’s rotor body and OilQuick’s couplers. Using the OilQuick tiltrotator equipped with the sandwich solution, the driver can tilt, rotate or change the tiltrotator for a bucket or other attachment and also change hydraulic tools under the tiltrotator without having to leave the cab. OilQuick also supplies a range of tools and accessories for tiltrotators. When excavating with the tiltrotator, the company says, the machine lifts about an extra 55 tons every hour (based on using the tiltrotator on a 15-ton excavator) and can help you save fuel costs and reduce maintenance and repair costs. Options include Tilt-Lock Extra or ICS control systems, high-flow swivel for running high-flow attachments, a grapple module for efficient picking and handling, and MIG2 joysticks for improved ergonomics and functionality.
AMI Attachments offers the AXXIS TR Tiltrotator – powered by Nox. Offering a tilt range of 50 degrees in either direction and a compact design, the AXXIS TR is available for excavators ranging from 3 to 27.5 tons. It is also compatible with backhoes in 30, 50 and 70 classes. It features a fully enclosed helical actuator instead of cylinders for increased and constant holding torque and allows digging of narrower trenches. The AXXIS TR is GPS compatible and available with various ergonomic SVAB joystick configurations. It also comes in three coupler configurations: pin grab coupler, S-lock coupler and wedge coupler. Other features include an oversized worm gear, cast-iron housing and proportional valves.
Attachments manufacturer Werk-Brau entered the tiltrotator market in 2022. The Werk-Brau branded models are manufactured by Kinshofer’s Nox. The six models can rotate 360 degrees and tilt 50 degrees in either direction. The models cover a range of 3- to 25-ton excavators. As with other Nox tiltrotators, they feature integrated hydraulics with no protruding components. The attachment has cast housing, only two greasing points, fewer wear parts and a worm drive. An elliptic rotary actuator helps keep the overall height of the unit low. For added safety, the standard D-Lock coupler locks both front and rear pins and does not require a safety pin. This ensures operators can pick up all standard OEM attachments in the same class. The Nox tiltrotator, quick coupler and mounted attachments can be controlled with the NOXPROP+ control system. The touchscreen display can be retrofitted to any machine and allows operators to individually assign functions and create user profiles. The units are compatible with 2D and 3D grade control systems from Leica, Trimble, Topcon and MOBA.
Italian manufacturer Mazio debuted the new Tilt-Rotator for excavators at ConExpo 2023. The tiltrotator features 360 degrees of rotation and the ability to tilt side-to-side by up to 55 degrees. The attachment works with grapples, buckets or shears to increase versatility and precision on the jobsite. The tiltrotator allows operators access to narrow spaces with large or small equipment, the company says. The Tilt-Rotator also features a hydraulic quick coupler that enables the operator to remain in the cab while changing tools. The Tilt-Rotator has no no grease points or cylinders, making it virtually maintenance-free.
GYRB produces the seven-model GTR line of tiltrotators for excavators ranging from 2 to 30 tons. Along with 360-degree rotation, the GTRs can tilt 40 dergee to either side. The MAC ST Control System enables operators to control the attachment with dual joysticks, graphic touchscreen and multiple user profiles. A centralized lubrication system can hook up directly to the excavator’s lubrication system. The Hardlock Coupler enables quick changing of attachments and increases safety with double locking devices. A Fast Change quick coupler option is also available. The company offers an optional grip module for moving buckets, small objects and other pieces of equipment. It is located under the tiltrotator and can be easily attached and detached. It also comes in handy when working with posts, pipes, poles, timber. The company offers a variety of tools for its tiltrotators, including digging, grading and trench buckets, ripper, grading beam, asphalt cutter, pallet fork, construction grapple.