How Technology is Making the Operation of Wheel Loaders Easier
How is technology improving the use of wheel loaders?
- Electronics have massively improved the functionality of wheel loaders
- Intensive user customizations are now possible
- Maintenance and tracking made easy
Wheel loader technology is something that is not often talked about due to how simple a wheel loader’s function is. However, improvements are certainly needed for such industrial machines simply because there are many upsides to having a better, more efficient machine and huge downsides to having an outdated one.
That being said, the use and operation of wheel loaders are significantly better than they were before, and there is a reason to believe that they will continue to improve as time passes because of the continuous development of electronics and other types of machine technology. Continue reading to find out what you should be looking for on your next wheel loader purchase.
Electronics have massively improved the functionality of wheel loaders
Perhaps the biggest area of technology that has seen the biggest improvement regardless if it’s in wheel loader technology or otherwise is electronics. Nevertheless, electronics, when applied to wheel loaders, have enabled various new functionalities that weren’t at all possible in the past.
This is most evident with the boom suspension, a hoist stabilizing circuit that is incorporated into the hydraulic system of the wheel loader. The boom suspension greatly increases the stability of the machine, which results in less spillage on load and carry operations. It also allows the machine operator to drive the wheel loader at high speeds without compromising control and safety — an issue with traditional wheel loader models.
Another functionality that has been enabled by electronics is onboard weighing or payload systems. This is greatly beneficial when improving productivity and efficiency, especially in truck loading operations, because there are usually state or city-wide regulations regarding the weight of a truck before it is allowed to be driven on the road. Wheel loaders, machines that are usually tasked with loading up trucks for construction purposes, can now weigh their payload before filling up a truck. This helps avoid overloading and minimizes the time wasted by having to reduce the load.
Intensive user customizations are now possible
As previously alluded to, user customizations have also benefited from technological advancements in wheel loaders. While still related to electronics, user customization focuses more on what the operator can do to individualize their wheel loaders for a given job or operation.
The perennial example here would be the integration of a touch screen multi-use display. Users will be able to set or change machine operation settings like the ride control or brake de-clutch systems, customize the level of responsiveness that the different parts of the loader have, and monitor levels and pressures during machine operation. Again, things that weren’t easy to do with older wheel loader models.
Some smaller wheel loader models can also have both a steering wheel and a joystick for steering. It has been observed that stick steering reduces operator fatigue and improves productivity, but some operators may still prefer using a steering wheel which is why both options are offered. Stick steering is also much easier to use when the job requires a lot of maneuvering.
Quality of life improvements like temperature control in the operator cabin or station and other similar features should also not be overlooked because these improve user experience significantly.
Maintenance and tracking made easy
Finally, the ever-present aspect of owning heavy-duty machines is also easier thanks to technology. Maintenance is already an arduous task on its own, but due to precise monitoring and diagnostic capabilities of the engine, it is now a lot more bearable. Sensors in a modern wheel loader’s engine can now detect issues as soon as they happen, which allows them to be fixed as soon as possible.
Planning an optimal schedule for machine servicing is also easier than ever with some wheel loaders because they are able to send out signals or alerts regarding the state of the internal systems — making it possible to adjust the maintenance schedule as needed. In conjunction with the previously mentioned on-the-fly system monitoring, your maintenance duties can become more specific. Aside from that, all the data can be stored in a computer database and can serve as important benchmarks or points of reference for future use.
A tracking function can also be seen on the most advanced or high-tech wheel loader models. This not only benefits maintenance but security and management as well. Geofencing can be implemented wherein you will be able to detect if a certain wheel loader unit is operating beyond a specific location — a possible sign of theft or misuse. It also helps equipment owners or big construction firms with heavy-duty machine fleets to know where their units are at any given time. Fleet management, despite being a responsibility that is reserved for those with ‘fleets’, has also improved nonetheless.
Heavy-duty machines like wheel loaders may be the robust backbone of the industrial and/or construction industry, but that does not mean they can never be due for improvements or upgrades. Thanks to the far-reaching effects of electronic and other technological advancements, better wheel loader technology is something that comes naturally.