The last few years have been unkind to many sectors. However, the waste management industry is one of few to have seen continued growth.
This is a fact not lost on Kevin Zimmer, UK and Ireland regional director for machine manufacturer Bobcat, which provides mini excavators and its signature skid-steer loader to many materials handling facilities.
“[In the waste industry] you’ve seen a lot of investment there,” explains Zimmer. “On the Bobcat side, where we see investment is more on the skid-steer loader side, where you’re pushing waste material around.”
Zimmer believes the success of Bobcat products across the waste management industry is down to its compact nature, in contrast to suppliers of larger scale equipment.
“With our machines you’ve got space, you could fit the machines in tight areas, through doorways, between bins and things of that nature. You’ve also got the manoeuvrability from the fact that it rotates around 360 degrees.”
The continued success of the skid-steer loader has prompted Bobcat to invest in a pair of new model skid-steer loaders – the tyre driven S630 and the T650 rubber tracked loader, both new for 2010.
Bobcat’s S630 is known as a ‘radial lift path’ loader – designed for operators requiring forward power instead of the T650’s vertical path, which allows for greater height.
“The S630 has a single hinge suitable for someone who’ll do more on digging, working between ground level and operator eye level,” explains Zimmer. “The T650 is a vertical path, it means your maximum reach point is close to your maximum height, and the advantage you have is you’re further out when you’re at your maximum height, which means you can pick and place, and offers advantages in terms of lifting capacity.”
Regardless of the choice of lift path, the two new Bobcat machines are compatible with the entire range of currently available machine attachments, which has now grown to 70 “families” and includes pallet forks, buckets, grapples and the ‘four-in-one’ bucket.
Such customisation options are one of the skid-steer loaders’ greatest assets, says Zimmer: “The versatility of the machine can be considered in terms of the attachments, or in the way it’s configured, for example open or enclosed cabling, you can also put different tyre options on there for different applications.
“In terms of waste you’d see more enclosed cabling, you probably wouldn’t see ‘higher capacity hydraulic flow, because basically they’re just pushing material, so the attachments they’re using are non-hydraulic driven. If you are running indoors you’ll want a harder wider tyre, if outside you’d be using a foam filled tyre.”
However, Bobcat has also improved the general specifications of the new skid-steer range, with several alterations made to the cabin. Both the T650 and the S630 boast a forward cabin position, which offers 30% better visibility, a 40% larger glass door panel and sides and an altered loader arm position, which now sit lower relative to the operator, to improve peripheral vision.
The new generation Bobcat loaders have also seen traction improved by 15-20%, in order to provide greater pushing and digging power, a bigger fuel tank and a 30% increase in hydraulic power, as well as an improved routing for the hydraulic hoses, which is designed to reduce wear and tear and a 50% reduction in noise for the machine operator.
Despite the improvements, Zimmer explains that Bobcat will not rest on its laurels, and will endeavour to remain ahead of the curve. “This is so we can offer the best product possible in terms of operator comfort in terms of environmental issues,” he says. “We’re continuing to do that development.”