Tools on the Job

Whether it’s to improve efficiency, cut costs, save time, or offer the ability to multitask, attachments and tools have become an important factor for job-site success.

“You can do a lot of things with just one tool,” notes Ron Peters, product manager for CEAttachments.

Says Wilhelm “Chip” Kogelmann, vice president of Alpine Sales & Rental Corp./Alpine Equipment: “It’s all about attachments these days. Contractors have a lot of money tied up in their excavators and payments must be made, whether the equipment is idle or working. Having a variety of attachments allows the contractor to pursue a wider range of job types.”

Tools are cost-efficient in that they require the purchase of the main machine, and, by investing in a few attachments, a company can do a job from start to finish.

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“A lot of times, the skid-steers are the first ones on the job and the last ones to leave,” says Peters. “They just switch attachments in between. To start off at a job site, they may clear some trees with a tree shear and a stump grinder. A dozer blade will push dirt around to fill in areas. There are trencher attachments for burying water lines or downspouts for buildings. There are auger attachments. Then you take it to the very end to where you’re getting it ready to seed the grass with different types of rakes, like the Auto Rake.”

Another benefit of tools is that they are easily transported, Peters points out.

“All of these different attachments can go on a regular utility trailer and a guy with a pickup truck can haul them to the job site. If there are security concerns, you can take them back to the shop at the end of the day. They’re easy to move around and you don’t need a large truck with a CDL license,” he adds.

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A number of tools have become popular on the job site.

For CEAttachments’ customers, one of the most popular tools is the mini-backhoe that attaches to any skid-steer loader with a universal mount, says Peters.

“There are a number of jobs you can do with this smaller backhoe, such as small trenching jobs, repairing a water line,” he says. “It’s not expensive like a dedicated backhoe. It’s a small tool that makes sense for people to buy and they have it there when they need it. It’s very easy to take on and off your skid-steer.”

The company offers the mini-backhoe in fixed and swing styles.

“The mini-backhoe with swing is really nice because you don’t have to maneuver your skid-steer back and forth,” Peters says. “You can switch the backhoe from left to right. You get a bucket full of dirt, swing it to the right, dump it and swing back to the trenches to keep digging again.”

It is not for every job, Peters points out. While a worker can use it to dig down to 6 feet, it does not do the job for deeper digs. CEAttachments also offers a variety of buckets, from 12-inch to 24-inch buckets.

Auto Rake, used to rake rocks off of a land parcel, is another popular tool.

“It rakes the rocks into the bucket, and you can dump it into the truck,” says Peters. “It’s very easy to clean an area up where you’re getting ready to seed grass in, so you can groom and finish the soil and it basically will smooth it out. You can do a lot of different things with one tool.”

The Sod Unroller is another tool that is gaining popularity in the field, Peters says. It enables one to pick up sod rolls and easily lay them in place, he adds.

“One of our most popular attachments by far is our pallet forks,” says Peters. “We have a new walk-through pallet fork, which is very popular with people who have cabin closure machines. It makes it easy for the operator to get in and out of his skid-steer loader.”

For handling C&D recycling tasks onsite without trucking in a grinder, you might want to check out the Hog Crusher from EZ Grout.

Featuring a half-yard capacity and a universal skid-steer attachment plate as well as forklift pockets, the Hog Crusher is a low-cost job-site recycling system. With the simple hookup of the quick-connect hydraulic fittings the unit is designed to crush brick, block, unreinforced concrete, asphalt, stone, or rock for onsite disposal to be used as road bedding or clean fill right on the job site. All material is broken down into 2-inch pieces and smaller with a discharge rate of 10 tons per hour. Replaceable carbide bits, hardened breaker, cleaner, and cheek plates provide easy onsite maintenance.

Hy-Ram HR Series hydraulic impact hammers from Allied Construction Products employ an oil and gas assist for increased efficiency, a longer piston stroke for higher impact power, and an auto-stop system to prevent “blank firing.” The gas-assist design using low pressure nitrogen reduces demand on the carrier’s hydraulic system. Additionally, pressurized oil is always present at the bottom of the piston to prevent internal cavitation.

A durable housing, incorporating a Hardox rock claw, suspends the internal working body inside a full-box enclosure, protecting the hammer, reducing noise, and minimizing vibration and wear to the carrier. Hy-Rams are available in 12 different models ranging from working weights of 265 to 8,375 pounds and tool diameters of 1.77 to 6.88 inches, with more than 2,500 installation kits to fit virtually any carrier. The Hy-Ram, which operates off of the carrier’s hydraulic system, requires an installation kit in order to be mounted on the backhoe/loader, excavator, or similar carrier. Allied offers over 2,500 installation kits to fit virtually every make and model carrier.

There are also new tools out on the market, such as the grader-and-laser system.

A Grader Blade attachment turns a skid-steer into a high-performance grading machine with a 96-inch blade, control box for in-cab hydraulic control of angle and tilt, a reversible/replaceable cutting edge, and proportional current valve to adjust the blade height, angle, and tilt. The attachment is ready to accept an optional laser-control system to enhance grading.

Tom Connor, a product specialist for compact excavators for Bobcat, says customers recognize “if they don’t have at least remotely appropriate attachments, they can run the risk of damaging the machine.

“If you try to bust up sidewalks with a bucket, it’s going to cost you a bucket eventually, where the appropriate tool, for instance, would be a breaker to break up that cement,” he adds.

Efficiency also is a factor in choosing the right attachments, Connor points out.

“If you have the right attachments to break the concrete-a clamp attachment with a bucket and or grapple to load that material out-that affects the bottom line,” he says. “If you show up at a guy’s doorstep to tear the driveway up, and you have nothing but a bucket, I think there’s many a customer who would question whether you know what you’re doing.”

Attachments offer versatility by expanding the usefulness and the perception of the machine, Connor says.

“There are still many out there who just use an excavator as a trenching machine to dig trenches or holes,” he says. “But that’s a portion of what people are doing with the excavators, because if they have no work trenching or digging, they can throw a breaker on there and do demolition work, breaking concrete and loading and hauling. A grapple and a clamp for land-clearing really opens up the door, so they’re not so limited on what they’re capable of doing with the machine.”

Connor points out that a contractor can perhaps net more business by being able to tell a customer about the company’s ability not only to tear out a slab, but also to break the concrete, load it, and grade it, versus just breaking the concrete and putting the customer in the position to pay someone else to do the rest of the work.

“The guys who are keeping busy are those who are flexible and who can answer that customer with “˜Yes, I can start this, and I can finish this job, and I have the attachments and the machinery to do it’,” he says.

“Some of these guys have the luxury of saying they don’t do anything but dig-“˜Call me when you need a hole dug.’ In today’s world, you may not have that luxury any longer or at least for the time being.”

Buckets are the most requested item from Bobcat, Connor notes.

“There is a range of buckets, from 8-inch trenching buckets all the way up to 36-inch trenching buckets,” he says. “There also is a variation among those in terms of standard versus severe duty. Buckets are still the mainstay of the excavator.”

A second, “very popular” work tool is the hydraulic breaker, Connor adds.

“The other attachment accessory that’s very popular is clamps, also referred to as a “˜thumb,'” he says. “It’s very popular once you get into the mid-size or larger excavators. Some customers will tell you it’s a standard feature of the machine; they can’t work without a thumb. The consumption of clamps continues to escalate as far as the ratio of clamp sales to machine sales.”

What is driving that is that as more contractors are exposed to them, they are more likely to want them.

“Just like anything, if you’ve never experienced it, your reaction is to question spending more money on something you don’t understand and can’t justify,” Connor says.

“I come across guys who say they don’t want that on their machine, and yet if the dealer shows up for a demo with a clamp, nine times out of 10, when you come back, the guy will tell you it’s the greatest thing in the world.”

Contractors will tell Connor: “I didn’t have to have my two guys carry that chunk of concrete. I didn’t have to stoop over and pick up this debris to get it out of my way or these rocks that were in my way when trenching. I can pluck items that are in my way and deposit them somewhere out of harm’s way or in the truck.”

Connor points out that Bobcat’s quick-attach has brought greater efficiencies into the industry.

“Years ago, all of the buckets were simply pinned on to the excavator, whereas I see a transition toward the quick-attachments,” he says. “That gives them that flexibility to jump from a 12-inch bucket to a 24-inch, to a grading bucket to a breaker. It’s been very well accepted because it allows that operator to use the best attachment for whatever he is doing at the moment. He can change an attachment in a matter of minutes with little or no physical effort.”

“The mantra “˜use the right tool for the job’ could not be a truer statement,” says Mark Shukla, director of sales and marketing for Rotobec. “While it is sometimes possible to use a tool for many different applications, it is much easier and faster to use a tool designed for the job at hand.

“A machine without an attachment is limited in what it can do,” says Shukla. “A machine and attachment have a binary relationship where one is no good without the other. Using the right machine-attachment combination is a wise start to completing a contract on budget and within cost estimates.”

Many companies now use a power attachment or powerclam in bucket configuration to augment fixed buckets and thumbs, says Shukla.

“These power-attachment grapples come with a full rotation and comprise two bucket halves with teeth and are positioned using the tool cylinder,” he says. “They are gaining in popularity.”

Hydraulic rotary cutters are the main focus of the attachment line of Alpine Sales & Rental Corp./Alpine Equipment, says Kogelmann.

At less than 10 years on the attachment market, the tools are relatively new, “but there has been significant growth in sales as contractors become aware of the versatility of the cutters,” notes Kogelmann.

“I have customers always coming up with new and surprising uses for these attachments,” he says, adding that one customer said they were like a “˜Dremel tool for your excavator’.

The Alpine rotary cutter consists of a strong spur-gear transmission, a powerful high-torque hydraulic motor, and a cutting drum equipped with carbide-tipped teeth. The cutter is powered by the auxiliary hydraulic circuit of the carrier machine-typically an excavator, backhoe, or skid-steer. The rotary cutter is offered in eight size classes and a variety of motor options, with power ranges from 24 horsepower (18 kW) to 320 horsepower (240 kW).

Applications include trenching, rock cutting (such as for foundations and swimming pools), demolition, concrete cutting, dredging and submerged cutting, wall trimming/profiling, soil mixing and stabilization, stump grinding, tunneling, mining, shaft cutting, and cutting of frozen ground.

“Rotary cutters are beginning to take over a lot of work previously done inefficiently by hydraulic hammer,” notes Kogelmann. “Under most conditions, they are more productive in terms of cubic yards per hour. This is because the multiple teeth exploit the rock’s low tensile strength instead of the tougher compressive strength that hammers attack.

“Additionally, the carbide teeth hold up better than steel hammer chisels. Moreover, they are unmatched for precision of cut and degree of site disturbance, such as footprint, noise, shocks, and vibrations.”

Kogelmann says the cutters also tend to result in less wear and tear on the carrier machine because of the smooth cutting action. Another major benefit he notes is the ability to reuse material left after cutting.

“The small cuttings, typically 1 to 3 inches, can be reused onsite as fill, or pipe bedding in the case of utility trenching,” he says. “The result is tremendous savings because the excavated material does not have to be loaded, hauled, and disposed of. Excavation of rock with hammers results in an unusable rubble that typically must be trucked offsite and disposed, which adds significant cost.”

Work tools help the contractor operate more cost-effectively, which is the basis of being able to be competitive, points out Bruce Harvey of H&V Equipment, a Terex distributor in Corpus Christi, TX.

“Having the right tools to be efficient on your job is the key because competition is not going to allow you to be inefficient-somebody else is going to be efficient and make money at it,” he says. “Between the dealer and the contractor or a combination of the two, you’ve got to be able to look at the job and figure out what is the most efficient way to move product from point A to point B, or you’re not going to get the bid.”

Additionally, having the tools that are job-specific provides versatility, notes Harvey. The most requested work tools that he sells for compact equipment include backhoes, breakers, hydraulic augers, different types of grapples, and rake attachments.

Also requested are manual and hydraulic thumbs, with manual being the more popular of the two for most of his customer base.

“It depends on the application and what that contractor’s needs are and job is at the time,” he notes.

Drive past any “decent-sized” construction site, and one can almost always see one-if not all-of the following machines, all of which have the capability of being transformed into multi-functional tools with the use of attachments, says Robert Kemp, attachment sales manager for Helac.

  • Some brand of utility vehicle for personnel and small tool transport, also for positioning trailers, water tanks, water pumps and other items.
  • A compact excavator weighing five tons or less for plumbing, landscaping, concrete work and electrical drops.
  • A rough terrain-style telescopic material handling forklift for lift and carry applications, trash clean-up and sweeping.
  • Some form of a loader, skid steer or small articulated loader for light dirt work, street cleaning, trash removal, snow removal, and concrete breaking.

“These machines have become indispensable on most any project-roads and bridges, commercial construction, and even residential projects,” says Kemp.

Kemp contends the North American market as a whole “has yet to fully embrace the concept of the machine being the base power unit. Europe is way ahead of us on this. They will have one excavator that has multiple buckets, a tilting and/or rotating coupler, a grapple, dozer blade and plate compactor-all set up to run on one excavator that can show up and do land-clearing, street maintenance, footer work, stone placement, grading, and, of course, trenching.

“Guess who is more productive and profitable at the end of the year? Our “˜one machine does one thing concept’ or the other guy?”

Thomas Winter, the sales manager for Global Work Tools & Services-Americas for Caterpillar, says the most popular Caterpillar tools on the job site for wheel loaders are fusion couplers, pallet forks, material-handling arms, and pickup and special application brooms. Additionally, a number of buckets also are desired on the job site, including those for general purpose, side dump, aggregate, grading, and grapple.

For excavators, workers prefer center-lock pin grabber couplers, hammers, contractors’ grapples, vibratory plate compactors, and hydraulic and stiff link thumbs. A number of buckets are often used for excavators, including general duty, heavy duty, severe duty, extreme duty, and specialty buckets for trenching and high capacity.

“It’s cheaper and more productive to change attachments on a machine versus having individual machines do different types of work,” says Tracy Black, operations manager at Kenco.

Those attachments most requested of Kenco are the barrier lift, pipe hook, and pipe lift.

“These attachments are unique and make the moving and installation process safe and very cost-effective,” notes Black. “We have an extensive line of models for each lifter. If the product is outside of our standard models, our engineering team can typically design the lifter needed.”

Terry Hebert of TH Inspections in Plaquemine, LA, finds using the Vacuworx Vaculift Pipe Lifter indispensable on the job.

“The Vaculift Pipe Lifter eliminates time and man hours,” says Hebert, whose company lays pipe. “It’s a lot safer. You don’t have people underneath the loads, and it just cuts down on the time.”

Hebert has been using the Vaculift Pipe Lifter for three years.

On a recent job site, his company was stringing pipe on a right of way off of the company trucks.

“Instead of having cable slings and a person on each end of the cable hooking up hooks into the ends of the pipe, you just put this Vaculift Pipe Lifter in the middle of the pipe and press a button, and it forms a vacuum and takes the pipe off the truck without having to have anybody manhandling the pipe at all,” Hebert says.

John Brown & Sons is a New Hampshire company that has done land clearing and vegetation management since the 1950s. In its maintenance of more than 20,000 acres each year for railroads and state and county departments of transportation, John Brown & Sons uses the Brontosaurus land-clearing system, Brown Brontosaurus Brush Mower and Mulcher, an attachment invented by John Brown.

The company offers six different mower-head attachments that run on as little as 18-gpm auxiliary hydraulics for placement on skid-steer loaders, Gradalls, compact excavators, and large excavators.

“Our Brown Brontosaurus Mower Head is a very universal tool that we use to keep right of ways cleared and maintained,” notes Carter Brown, the company’s marketing manager. “By using this attachment, we can clear everything from small underbrush to large tree removal. We can even trim back overhanging branches from danger spots.

“The Brontosaurus Mower attachment is extremely versatile on not only what you can clear, but where you can clear. We are in charge of maintaining many acres in the flat sand of Florida to the mountainous regions of New Hampshire, and the material we clear is just as diverse, from hardwoods to palm trees.”

Excavator and machine attachments save companies money time and time again, notes Brown.

“The alternative to a mulching attachment is hand cutting and clearing, which is slow and labor-intensive,” he says. “One mower head can clear three to five acres in a day, and that’s one piece of equipment and just one person.”

Doug Laufenberg, products marketing manager for attachments/compact wheel loaders for John Deere’s construction and forestry division, points out the demand for attachments is job-specific. While thumbs are becoming more popular, for example, those in such fields as landscaping or utility contracting choose pipe thumbs.

Hydraulic breakers are also a popular attachment for breaking foundations or rocks in the ground.

“Some guys are using them for planting trees or putting in light poles,” says Laufenberg.

Black finds that two to three buckets is the norm for most contractors. That includes a small and large digging bucket with one cleanup bucket.

There are typically three types of buckets that people use for full-size or compact excavators, Kemp notes.

One is the narrow trenching bucket. Another is a 24-inch to 36-inch bucket, and a third is a 60-inch to 72-inch ditch-cleaning bucket.

There are variations.

“In the Houston market, for the most part, they sell only one bucket per excavator,” Kemp says.

Most excavators have an average of three buckets, says Connor.

“They want a narrow bucket-like a 12-inch bucket-for those times they get into an excavation where they don’t want to move any more spoil than they absolutely have to. In some real severe digging cases, a narrow bucket is more effective.”

Another bucket commonly seen on the job site is a 16-inch bucket.

“Some of the concrete guys in the southern states run into jobs where they do formless trenches, where they simply trench and literally pour the concrete into that excavation as they form, using the dirt as a form versus digging a wide trench, building a form, and then pouring concrete,” says Connor.

“You’ll oftentimes find customers very particular about the exact width of the bucket,” he says. “An 18-inch bucket is too big for them. They have to have a 16-inch bucket because that’s what the spec calls for. If the spec calls for a 16-inch trench, and they are pouring concrete directly into that, and the contractor shows up with an 18-inch bucket, guess who’s paying for that extra 2 inches of concrete? The contractor.”

Another common bucket is the grading bucket. In contrast to a “toothy” trenching bucket, the grading bucket is a smooth-lipped bucket that works well for grading jobs: smoothing out material, cleaning ditches, final landscaping, grading, and, in some cases, loading bulk material, Connor says.

Laufenberg finds most everyone gets one bucket, if not two. In western North America, straight-edged buckets are favored for grading. Contractors will buy a tooth bucket for trenching, but there appears to be a larger demand for smooth-edged buckets to be paired with mini-excavators for grading ditches, inclines and other areas.

Buckets sized 9 to 12-inches are used on smaller machines while larger mini-excavators are being fitted with buckets up to 36 inches.

“This depends on what they’re putting in the ground,” Laufenberg says of contractors, adding that a bucket choice creates the greatest efficiencies. “Typically, you don’t want to disturb too much soil. You want to use the narrowest bucket possible so you have less backfilling and less work to do at the back end.

“From a work perspective, if you’re digging an 18-inch trench but you’re only putting in a 6-inch pipe, you’ve got all that extra dirt you’re moving-all of that dirt you don’t need to move, let alone dig it up and then compact it back.”

Winter says the number of buckets an excavator customer possesses depends on whether or not a coupler is involved.

“If a coupler is installed on the machine, there will be typically two or three different buckets per machine: a ditch cleaning bucket, a trenching bucket and a capacity/loading bucket,” he says. “Without a coupler, there is usually only one, possibly two. Usually a larger machine has just the one bucket, doing digging in a particular application all day long.”

Approximately 30% to 50% of hydraulic excavators Caterpillar sells end up with couplers, says Winter.

“Bigger machines are less likely to have a coupler, as they tend to be dedicated to a task, whereas the smaller machines will go from job to job and need the flexibility a coupler provides,” he adds.

Thumbs are becoming a standard, says Winter.

“The utility a thumb provides is becoming more widely recognized among general contractors,” he says. “They are useful for light demolition, site cleanup, loading, landscaping-setting stone-and myriad other tasks that require picking up or placing irregular materials.”

Shukla agrees thumbs add versatility to a bucket and allow the operator to handle irregular shapes.

Laufenberg compares thumbs on machines to thumbs on hands.

“If you didn’t have that thumb on your hand, you couldn’t do a lot,” he says. “As soon as you add a thumb to a machine, it makes the machine a lot more versatile-it can actually pick up and move things.”

Thumbs are especially popular at those companies with one or two excavators, says Black.

“Their work is usually more diversified, so they need to adapt quickly for any type of job,” Black adds. “Some large companies may dedicate a machine or two with thumbs depending on their scope of work. Demolition contractors will typically have thumbs or grapples on their machines.”

Thumbs have become a “back saver” and “labor savor,” Connor points out.

“It speeds up almost any job you can think of with an excavator because inevitably, you run into things that are in your way-lumber, rocks, concrete, rebar.”

Homeowners are using the thumb attachment with a compact excavator to renovate their homes, mostly backyards, notes William Smith, director of service, parts and warranty for RSC Equipment Rental.

“We’ve had customers use the equipment to build a rock wall, for instance,” he says. “They have the capability of picking up the rocks with the thumb and putting them right where they want them.

“More than half the time, when customers want equipment with a bucket, they’ll choose a machine equipped with a thumb,” Smith adds. “Typically customers—including developers, landscapers and homeowners—use the thumb attachment for picking up rocks, logs, poles, and wood and to clear land. Because this market includes some heavily wooded areas, thumbs are also used for plucking tree stumps.

The demand for thumbs is steady, except during the winter when construction work slows down a bit, he says.

Regional preferences also play a role in thumbs.

“Almost no machines in California use a thumb,” says Kemp. “But almost no machines in the Pacific Northwest are sold without a hydraulic thumb. In the Southeast, most excavators five tons and up are sold with a thumb—mechanical, not hydraulic. In the Northeast, just about all excavators are sold with hydraulic thumbs.”

Smith agrees the popularity of thumbs tends to vary by geography.

“Our Northwest region rents almost every excavator with a thumb attachment,” he says. “We offer thumb attachments for John Deere 310 loader backhoes and Bobcat 331 and 337 compact excavators.”

Kemp says there are definite regional biases for what end users expect when renting or purchasing a machine.

Enclosed cabs with heat and air—in demand in the North and Northeast—are looked upon as extravagant in Southeast and Gulf region, he notes.

There are regional considerations for auxiliary hydraulics for running attachments and availability to rent varied attachments, he says.

“The type of attachments even vary in a given region,” he says. “North Carolina machines are not sold without a combination bucket, period.”

Connor, too, sees regional preferences. “We sell a lot of 12- and 13-inch buckets in the Southeast,” he says. “It’s very tough digging out in that country with that soil. The narrower your bucket, the less resistance you have trenching and so in that tough soil, there is no need to go any wider.”

Additionally, water lines are generally buried relatively shallow compared with those in the north, “so they’re not going to dig anymore in that soil than they have to,”
Conner says.

In the North, the trend is for 16-inch and 18-inch buckets to deal with rocky soils, Conner notes.

“Up in this country, you generally dig 4 feet deep minimum in order to place a form,” he adds.

Winter says while there are a few types of buckets normally purchased by everyone, various regions often have configurations particular to their locale.

“Usually this is a matter of bucket and Ground Engaging Tools [GETs] to match local geology, such as wide-tip buckets in the upper Midwest and rock buckets with aggressive GET in the Southwest,” says Winter.

“But there are cultural differences in regions, as similar problems are solved in different ways by local influencers,” says Winter, adding that the company, in recognizing this diversity, offers a wide range of buckets to meet those regional requirements.

“For other tools, there is some regional variation,” he adds. “It varies widely depending on the tool and type of contractor.”

Employing its shanks-on-an-ARC (SHARC) technology, Leading Edge Attachments’ High-Cap Multi-Ripper Bucket takes the place of hammers, blasting, and rock trenchers, by using an excavator’s rolling action to apply a ripping force. The staggered ripper teeth fracture the substrate in sequential order, so that by extending the bucket cylinder, the bucket applies the maximum breakout force sequentially to each tooth. The bucket then is able to scoop out the fractured material.

Alpine’s rotary cutters are subject to regional preferences, notes Kogelmann. “The rock must be suitable for cutting with the attachment. For example, the very hard and abrasive granite in New England is not suitable for this tool.”

With respect to his company’s mowing and mulching attachments, Brown says, “We find that the Southeast is the most popular place for them, due to their almost year-round growing cycles and invasive species that many counties and districts are trying to eradicate.”

Within his company’s 25-county service area in southern Texas, Harvey says there are preferences that align with the type of soil with which a contractor is dealing.

“You take a contractor in our northwest territory—which is a rocky terrain—and he will have a rock picker or a grappler attachment with a sieve on it to where he can go through the job sites and sift out the rocks because it needs a topsoil finish. They don’t have to pick rocks up by hand. You move toward the Corpus Christi area, where there is sand and clay and that attachment would be useless.”

Peters notes just a few regional preferences.

A tree boom, for example, is used more in the subtropical climates, such as Florida, for transporting palm trees.

“But the same attachment can be used for lifting material out of a pickup truck or loading trucks,” he adds.

Ultimately, buying a machine with just one bucket “is like buying a car with one door handle,” says Kemp. “It’s still functional, but very limiting. Every attachment you see was someone’s light-bulb moment to help save time performing a given task.”

As we go to press, JCB Attachments has just unveiled a family of crusher buckets for its JS line of tracked excavators, consisting of three base models—the CB60, CB70, and CB90—with two variants of each of the larger models.

The crusher buckets use a fixed jaw in the base, with a hydraulically activated hinged jaw in the roof of the bucket. The hinged jaw cycles in and out by means of an eccentric mounted on a shaft across the top of the bucket. This shaft is fitted with flywheels at each end and rotated by a belt from the hydraulic motor. The flywheels store energy from the motor, smoothing out the power delivery and reducing stress on the machine. This action also generates a more sustained crushing action, increasing productivity.

The 0.59-cubic-yard CB60 is designed to work with JCB’s JS160 and the JS190. Two versions of the 0.78-cubic-yard CB70 are available for JS220 and the JS260 excavators. Similarly, two versions of the 0.98-cubic-yard CB90 are available for the JS260-360.

Crusher buckets are capable of reducing site waste, brick, demolition rubble, or rock into a usable material, eliminating haulage and disposal costs. They can reduce material to a hardcore size from less than an inch to 4 and three-quarter inches (20–120 mm), also offering a cost effective alternative to an onsite mobile crushing plant.  GX_bug_web

Rental Snapshot: Compact Equipment AttachmentsThe demand for compact equipment attachments is following a noticeable trend, says Dale Asplund, vice president of business services for equipment rental leader United Rentals. “Beyond the various bucket options, breaker attachments are the number-one rental request for all tiers of dirt equipment right now—large excavators as well as compact equipment—followed by augers, brooms, and grapples on the compact machines.”

“There’s a trickle-down component to earthmover rentals,” says Asplund, who notes that the leading edge of construction activity is felt at the large end of the spectrum but quickly moves on to mini-excavators and then skid-steers. In each case, the most-requested attachments are the staples used in excavation and site prep. “Contractors sometimes opt to rent compact equipment based on immediate availability, short-term needs, or site conditions. Attachments have made compact equipment much more versatile, thanks to ongoing R&D, than when these machines first arrived on the market. For example, United Rentals offers 17 different attachment options for compact equipment on top of the standard buckets.”

While demand for compact attachments is more strongly tied to residential work than commercial and industrial projects, any type of excavation work can be a leading indicator of a broader recovery, says Asplund. “Over the past several months demand for excavation and site prep equipment appears to be increasing beyond seasonality, which is a good sign. When an economy turns a corner, you see it in dirt work first.”


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