With margins on job site bids tight, contractors are relying more heavily than ever on these machines, and more specifically, on the attachments — buckets, hydraulic breakers, augers, pallet forks, brooms, grapples, and snow plows, to name a few
Throughout the last decade, contractors have increasingly expected more from their job site tools. For example, a mobile phone is no longer just a mobile phone; it’s a mobile office — connecting the owner to others via phone, text, e-mail, video, photos and social media channels at any time, in any place.
With technology advancing so rapidly, it’s no wonder contractors expect the same convenience and ability to multitask from their other tools, like their construction equipment. And, backhoe loaders are no exception.
"Backhoe loaders are designed with the specific purpose of being versatile on any job site," said Jon Beckley, Terex global product manager of backhoe loaders. "Perfect for contractors with applications requiring the versatility of a wheel loader and the functionality of an excavator. The dual functionality of these loaders increases job site productivity and helps cut operating costs — the best of both worlds in one package."
With margins on job site bids tight, contractors are relying more heavily than ever on these machines, and more specifically, on the attachments — buckets, hydraulic breakers, augers, pallet forks, brooms, grapples, and snow plows, to name a few — that make them so versatile.
And, according to Beckley, to increase what one backhoe loader can accomplish on a job site, contractors should consider investing in a 7-in-1 bucket attachment.
One Attachment Does It All
Originally developed by the Drott Company and known as the 4-in-1 bucket, this attachment has been referred to over the years as a multi-purpose or the double four bucket. Today, many contractors call it the 7-in-1 bucket to highlight this attachment’s seven main functions:
5) Spreading and leveling
"Contractors have discovered the key to staying busy year-round is to reduce the amount of work they subcontract," said Beckley, "and keep as much business as they can for their own crews. One way to do this is by investing in attachments, giving their equipment the ability to do more. The 7-in-1 bucket is the ideal attachment for general contractors, landscapers, municipalities and rental yards — for anyone who wants to increase a backhoe loader’s versatility for a greater return on investment."
According to Beckley, the 7-in-1 bucket makes many job site tasks easier and quicker to complete, but in several markets, contractors have been slow to realize the full potential of this attachment.
"When contractors better understand what this attachment can do, and how it does it," said Beckley, "they appreciate how the 7-in-1 bucket saves time and money, as well as opens up more job opportunities."
To prove what the 7-in-1 bucket can truly do, Beckley offered operating tips for each of the bucket’s seven functions.
Digging and Loading
When digging with the clamshell closed, Beckley said, the 7-in-1 bucket can be filled by crowding back as the operator pushes the loader into the pile of job site material. In tougher material, the bucket can be rocked forwards and backwards to assist filling. Pressing the transmission de-clutch button on the loader control lever, makes more engine power available to the hydraulic circuit to increase the loader’s performance.
Also, Beckley said, the bucket can be filled by opening the clamshell and pulling the material back from the stockpile, then closing the clamshell while the loader is on the move or stationary.
For dumping, or loading, with the 7-in-1 bucket, Beckley said that operators can use two methods: Forward dump in the normal way, or bottom dump for extra clearance. The clamshell can be used to push and evenly distribute the load across the truck body.
For this task, Beckley advised operators to place the 7-in-1 bucket on the ground with the clamshell fully open. The depth of the cut is regulated by tilting the mouldboard cutting edge — forward for a deeper cut, and backwards for a lesser degree of cut.
To use the 7-in-1 bucket for scraping tasks, operators can place the bucket on the ground and open the clamshell until the indicator is set to the desired depth of cut. When moving forward, the mouldboard cutting edge penetrates the ground until the clamshell cutting edge makes contact and acts as a depth gauge. The mouldboard is designed to give a "boiling action" effect to assist in filling the bucket.
Spreading and Leveling
According to Beckley, to spread material, the clamshell is progressively opened on the move. And for leveling, the bucket is placed on the ground with the clamshell fully opened, the backhoe loader than operates in both forward and reverse directions to give a level finish.
For grabbing and handling a wide variety of materials, the 7-in-1 bucket is opened and then lowered over the object. The clamshell is then closed and its powerful clamping action grips the object in the bucket.
And, for picking up the last of the material using the 7-in-1 bucket, adds Beckley, operators need to close the clamshell and crowd the bucket back simultaneously. Selecting the float position on the loader control lever keeps the bucket on the ground to help pick up all the material and leave a clean finish, according to Beckley.
During lifting and lowering tasks, the flip over pallet forks on the 7-in-1 bucket are leveled manually with the control lever. And, Beckley said, the object handling kit, including the lifting eye feature, is required when lifting objects with the 7-in-1 bucket.
Making the Investment
Before investing in any new piece of equipment, contractors want to know that their investment will increase their revenue potential. Because 7-in-1 buckets can be a large capital investment, contractors need to work with their equipment distributor to best understand if it is the right attachment to add to their fleet.
"It is important that equipment distributors understand what their customers want to do with the backhoe loader," said Beckley. "This includes asking contractors what are the main applications they do with their backhoe loader, what attachments they currently use, what tasks are they very productive at and what tasks do they have trouble doing with their current attachment fleet.
"By working together, equipment distributors can set the right expectations about what the 7-in-1 bucket can accomplish and contractors can make sure it will be good return on their investment."