A front end loader is also known as a bucket loader, payloader, shovel, wheel loader, front loader, skid-steer or shovel. It is a piece of heavy machinery that is primarily used to load materials like asphalt, dirt, feed, logs, recycled materials, woodchips, demolition debris, snow, gravel, raw minerals, and rock, etc. onto other machinery like conveyor belt, railroad car, feed hopper or a dump truck, etc. They act as a great helping hand in the process loading or unloading by reducing human efforts.
A front end loader can also be used at construction sites for some of the above-mentioned applications. There can be many different types of loaders, depending upon their application and design criteria, some of which we will discuss here for a proper understanding.
- Different types of loaders – A front end loader can be used to remove snow from a parking lot, sidewalk or other similar areas where similar heavy equipment cannot be deployed for the same purpose. As they have a bucket to collect the snow, it can be used successfully to gather the snow and collect them into the back side of a dump truck or snowplow. Many of these machines do not make use of automotive steering systems, rather they have a hydraulically actuated pivot point set that is there between the front and rear axles. It is known as “articulated steering” which helps the front axle to be firm so that more weight can be carried.
- The main components of the unit – Every front end loader has three main components in it – engines, hydraulics, and transmission components. The engine runs on diesel which is responsible for running the transmission and the hydraulics properly. The hydraulic components may consist of motors, valves, and pumps that make it easy to move the front bucket for handling materials like sand, manure, gravel, etc. The transmission components include axles, pump, gearbox, motors, wheels, etc. that help in moving the machine smoothly across a job site.
- Compact front end loaders – Compact Utility Tractors (CUT) make use of front end loaders (FEL) in small tractors. They usually offer 18 to 50 HP and can be helpful for landscape chores or ground maintenance. There are mainly two types of compact FELs – curved arm style and the conventional dogleg designed style. ACUT with FEL can be useful for many types of applications due to its low capacity and small size. It can also be made more helpful by adding some simple enhancements.
Some FELs come with a quick attach (QA) system that is also known as a quick coupler. It can help in removing the front bucket with ease. A ‘bale spear’ can also be used in its place for lifting bay hales and a ‘pallet fork’ for lifting a pallet. Similarly, a ‘tooth bar’ can be added easily to the front boundary of a bucket that can be helpful for the FEL in a digging job. For mining operations, an LHD (Load, Haul, Dump machine) can be employed. It can be driven by a diesel engine or an electric motor, which can be useful to handle different load ranges and varying bucket size.
- Armored wheel loaders – These are types of front end loaders that are generally used for peacekeeping or military operations throughout the world. They can be used for building up bases, make fortifications or removing a roadblock. These can also be effective against light gunfire, stone pelting or against Molotov cocktails. There are remote controlled FELs as well that help security and police forces to establish proper order and the rule of law.
Hence, we can see from the above-mentioned points that FELs are versatile machines that can be highly useful to carry out many types of jobs. They can also be easily modified to suit any application. That is the reason why they are used in many sectors throughout the world for different types of work.