The skid steer you have in your yard has probably sold you on the advantages of compact equipment – the ability to work in tight spaces, powerful performance, easy transport and economic maintenance. But if you’ve wondered if there is a small machine that can also climb over poor ground conditions, give you more visibility, use the skid steer attachments you already own and leave a lighter footprint on your job, a compact wheel loader might be the next piece of equipment to make it to the top of your wish list.
Styles and applications
Compact wheel loaders are ideal for digging, loading and hauling jobsite materials such as dirt, gravel, sand and wood chips, and are useful where there is little room to maneuver and a need to move materials quickly. Compared to the skid steer, compact wheel loaders offer better flotation and higher ground clearance, and are less apt to tear up established grass or soft asphalt. Compact wheel loaders also excel on jobs that require moving a larger volume of material around a worksite with building or landscape obstacles. The operator cab’s position sits high with large windows and the loader arms do not obstruct side window visibility.
Compact wheel loaders come in two frame configurations and each style indicates how the machine is best used. Rigid frame loaders with steerable axles have a fixed center of gravity and provide excellent maneuverability and constant payload stability even when turning. They are good for hauling pallets of pipes or containers. Articulated frame loaders oscillate at a pivot point mid-machine, providing a tight turning radius in areas with limited space and stability at low speeds.
Some manufacturers say compact wheel loaders can perform similar tasks as higher powered skid loaders but deliver up to 30 percent in fuel savings. Faster travel speeds translate into quicker cycle times and increased efficiency. Most compact wheel loaders come standard with a general purpose bucket and manufacturers offer a variety of optional attachments such as side-dump buckets, light material buckets, forks and carriers, brooms, multipurpose buckets and crane jibs. New quick coupler systems on compact loaders accommodate skid steer attachments, giving you a greater return on your attachment investment.