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 Articulated Front End Loaders Vs Front End Loader Tractor

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PostSubject: Articulated Front End Loaders Vs Front End Loader Tractor   Sun Nov 13, 2011 4:09 pm

Articulated front end loaders are designed by engineers from the ground up to push hard into earth and lift heavy loads at the front of the loader and also to be extremely versatile in the field.
The following article illustrates 8 points of difference between an articulated front end loader and a front end loader fitted to a tractor generally after purchase.
1. Maneuverability. Articulated front end loaders allow you to work in very tight areas – places where tractors can’t even begin to access. Articulated steering is similar to having two very short machines attached together with a rod, so really you are operating a very short machine and the other chassis follows behind. Tractors on the other hand have a rigid chassis and are no-where near as maneuverable as a modern articulated front end loader. This ability to operate in confined areas of articulated front end loaders allows you to gain access to places you couldn’t with your tractor. The higher utilization rate of articulated front end loaders pays off with less jobs having to be performed manually. Often maintenance that has been done for years by hand, now gets done rapidly with a compact articulated front end loader! The much better all around visibility in a compact articulated front end loader also makes productivity in confined areas much higher as the operator isn’t concerned about damage to buildings, machinery, personnel or animals constantly on the job site.
2. Steering under load. Articulated front end loaders utilize strong rams to pivot the whole front chassis which steers the vehicle in the required direction. The powerful steering is required as under load the centre of gravity shifts approximately 2/3 of the whole machine onto the front axle, making it heavy under load if the steering isn’t suitable. Tractors however are designed to tow – this is the reason the big wheels designed for heavy loads, are mounted at the back and the small wheels, which are easier to steer, are mounted at the front. When a front end loader is added to a tractor and the operator loads the bucket, the tractor’s centre of gravity shifts onto the front wheels and axles, making it very hard to steer as they aren’t designed to turn under such a heavy load. As the centre of gravity shifts when a load is picked up with the front end loader a massive amount of pressure transfers onto the front axle and CV joints in the tractor. Tractors really are designed to tow and when loaded on the back of the three point linkage when towing, pressure is actually reduced on the front wheels as the centre of gravity shifts backwards taking pressure off the CV joints! Tractor front axles aren’t designed for the constant loading when working with a front end loader and may not last. Front wheel assist has now been included by some tractor manufactures to help with the steering when the front end loader takes a full load but it still has difficultly under full load as the CV joints are loaded up and under stress. Articulated front end loaders however have rigid axles so they don’t have any CV joints to get damaged under when the centre of gravity shifts forwards when loading – the steering is controlled via articulating the whole front chassis – just another reason showing that articulated front end loaders are truly designed from the ground up for loading, particularly in the long run when maintenance costs are taken into account.
3. Loading speed. Many farmers load their trucks with tractors, however when you load with a big tractor you waste a lot of diesel compared to an articulated front end loader. When operating a big tractor you need a lot more space to get in the right position to load and then to dump into the truck. The truck must be parked much further away from the pile of material to be moved as the tractor has limited maneuverability.
On the other hand articulated front end loaders operate easily in very confined areas so they don’t need to travel as far to dump and get in the right position to load again. This is due to the very tight steering angle – one of the greatest advantages of an articulated vehicle. The most efficient compact articulated front end loaders on the market now have articulation angles of 47 degrees. Smaller articulated front end loaders, generally under 1750kg, have articulation angles of 60 degrees as they don’t incorporate a drive shaft so the articulation angle can be made much higher.
4. Transmission advantages. Most modern articulated front end loaders utilize a clutchless hydrostatic transmission which gives you smooth power transfer when digging constantly into soil or hard materials. The hydrostatic transmission makes articulated front end loaders much faster in speed than tractors in loading situations, allowing the operator to perform more work in less time. As articulated front end loaders use a fluid hydrostatic the operator isn’t wearing out mechanical clutches or gearboxes with friction as you would need to constantly shift between gears with a manual gearbox like in a tractor.
The hydrostatic transmission that is used in the most modern articulated front end loaders allows the driver to concentrate solely on loading the bucket rather than having to change manual gears all the time to maximize speed against the torque required for loading. The hydrostatic transmission means that the articulated front end loader can be driven into a pile for loading and the hydrostatic pump is load sensing and automatically senses the power required and adjusts torque as necessary for the most efficient loading. The speed in the hydrostatic articulated front end loader is controlled just by pressing the accelerator pedal down more or less, the same as operating an automatic car.
5. Low operating height. Some modern compact articulated front end loaders are built with very low operating heights. This allows you to go inside buildings and perform more work. Tractors are designed for towing with large rear wheels and so are much higher and could never access such low areas. This allows many intensive farming operations such as small horse stables, cow sheds, chicken pens and greenhouses to be quickly cleaned out. Compact articulated front end loaders are also generally much narrower than equivalent tractors and allow access up the side of residential properties, building sites, and vineyards. A big advantage of compact articulated loaders is that the low height and narrow width allow access into building and demolition sites for construction and removal of debris.
The low height and relatively narrow width of articulated front end loaders when further coupled with the extremely tight turning circle gives even more accessibility in confined spaces. The low operating height of a compact articulated front end loader also gives another benefit not realized at the beginning – the easy access for personnel to the cabin area means they get used constantly for all jobs as they are so convenient. Tractors, due to their high wheels at the back must have high cabin heights and constantly getting in and out can be chore, particularly for smaller tasks and where one has to get in and out of the cabin frequently and so often the job is just done by hand. Another advantage of the low height of compact articulated front end loaders is when trucking machines about the total transport height is lower and permits don’t need to be obtained.
6. Centre of gravity. Articulated front end loaders are built from the ground up to maximize the efficiency of the weight they can lift at the front of the machine. The placement of counterweights and the longitudinal centre of gravity on an articulated front end loader is designed completely differently to that a tractor. Articulated front end loaders have a very heavy chassis and the most efficient designs incorporate weight as far behind the rear axle as possible to make lifting at the front as efficient. Significant weight as far out the back of the rear axle as practical makes it possible to lift higher amounts at the front of the articulated front end loader due to the simple lever principle – the more counter weight out the back, the more effective it will be. Articulated front end loaders when unloaded have approximately 2/3 of the total machine weight resting on the rear axle, however when loaded the centre of gravity shifts to 2/3 of the total weight on the front axle.
Tractors on the other hand are built completely differently to an articulated front end loader – all their weight is mounted as far forward as possible to give the best stability and capacity when towing – counterweights are even designed to hang off the front of the tractor! Their longitudinal centre of gravity of a tractor is approximately 50/50 on the front and rear axles, with a shift towards more weight on the front axle in bigger tractors. A quick look at any tractor shows that the engine has been mounted as far forward as practical which gives great stability at the back of the machine and allows the tractor to maintain weight on the front wheels for traction when towing a heavy object – the opposite of an articulated front end loader.
7. View of front end when operating. Compact articulated front end loaders are built from scratch to have a great view of the front end as this is where all the work occurs and the driver must have a great view if they are to perform work quickly and safely. The front chassis on an articulated front end loader is minimized in size so maximum visibility is created for the driver. The mast is also designed to be as streamlined as possible so no interference occurs to the drivers view and anything unnecessary is put behind or underneath the driver such as the engine.
The view of the front end of a tractor is totally different – tractors are designed for towing so the engine is put as far forward as possible and then a front end loader mast added afterwards. The tractors engine totally obscures the front end of the tractor so it is very difficult to see the working face and more guess work and less precise work has to be performed with a tractor than an articulated loader. The tractor is thus can only be used for very rough work and all finishing must be performed by another machine or done later by hand. It is very easy to see which machine is built for heavy duty work – an articulated front end loader or a tractor with a loader, pay careful attention to the size of rams, pins and the strength of the mast and it is quickly apparent that only a good quality articulated front end loader is built for an industrial life.
8. Towing Vs pushing. Articulated front end loaders are built for constant pushing. However, tractors are designed for towing; they are not designed to develop the pushing force which is needed for loading and shifting. Generally everyone understands that the bigger the wheel, the less the torque that can efficiently generated from it. The massive rear wheels of big towing tractors make the ability of developing a lot of torque an impossibility, however big tyres at the back create a lot of stability and the ability to have massive loads on the rear utilizing the three point linkage perfectly. The front wheels on tractors however are very small and not designed for the same loading as the rear – hence their small size. Articulated front end loaders however have the same tyre size all around which are much smaller than tractors so it is easy for the axles to generate much higher torque which is required to dig into hard materials when loading or cutting into bare earth.
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