Equipment manufacturer JCB has made upgrades to a wide range of its machines to meet the demands of a growing international market, as Margo Cole reports from Spain.
JCB unveiled what it claimed to be one of the biggest line-ups of new machines in its history in Spain earlier this month. It was showing off new and upgraded models across its product range, including telescopic handlers, tracked and wheeled excavators, mini-excavators, skid steer loaders and the largest capacity wheeled loading shovel the firm has ever produced.
The launch came at a time when JCB is investing heavily in production facilities as well as research and development.
Over the last 12 months it has announced more than £140M of spend, including investment in new production facilities in Brazil, India and the US, as it aims to continue growing its global market share.
The pace of change in design and engineering in construction equipment is going faster now than ever
JCB chief executive Alan Blake
JCB chief executive Alan Blake predicts the firm will continue to outperform the market over the next 12 months, and says the recent investments mean it is “very well placed to take maximum advantage of the growth that exists”.
“The pace of change in design and engineering in construction equipment is going faster now than ever,” he adds, claiming there has “never been a more important time” to take a leading role in innovation.
The company recently announced that former group managing director of product development and commercial operations Tim Burnhope would take on the role of chief innovation officer to spearhead new developments and grow the business in new markets. He says this is “the most exciting phase in JCB’s history in terms of innovation”, adding that innovation will be at the heart of JCB’s worldwide growth and will set the firm apart from its competitors.
Wheel loader – the big beast
The big beast of JCB’s latest product line-up is the 457 wheeled loading shovel, an upgrade of the 456 that includes a Stage IIIB-(Tier 4i) compliant engine that gives increased power and torque but with a 6% reduction in fuel consumption.
Like many of the new machines on show, the 457 has been restyled to look more modern and aggressive. It also has increased loading capacity, with the bucket volume increased by 0.25t.
JCB group engineering director Mick Mohan says the 457, which is powered by the largest engine in the JCB fleet, “moves the company up a league”. The 8.9l Cummins engine is 16% more powerful than that on the previous model and provides an 18% increase in torque. It meets emissions regulations by including a diesel particulate filter, which needs servicing every 5,000 hours in Europe.
Aerial platform – a new departure
A new departure for JCB is the design and manufacture of three aerial work platforms that can be attached to two of its Loadall telescopic handler models.
The different platforms, designed to be used with the 535-125 and 535-140 HiViz models are: a fixed 1.2m wide, 2.5m long basket; a 1.2m wide, 2.5m-5m extendable basket; and a slewing version of the extending platform that can rotate up to 180°.
All three platforms can carry a load of 400kg and are compliant with the EN280 standard for mobile elevating work platforms.
Compact – taking a walk on the small side
At the compact end of the fleet, JCB has continued with its plan to introduce 17 new skid steer models by launching three more machines this month.
The addition of two new skid steers and a compact tracked loader mean the company now offers 12 new generation machines, with the remaining five to be launched later this year.
The 135, 155 and 150T all use a radial lift version of JCB’s Powerboom single-sided lift arm, which was developed on the Loadall telescopic handler range and, claims JCB chief innovation officer Tim Burnhope, contains 22% more steel than competitor machines with two arms.
It’s a conventional tail-swing machine with the visibility you would expect from a zero tail-swing
JCB group engineering director Mick Mohan
The development of the singlesided loader arm has allowed JCB to incorporate a full height door on the side of the machine – just like larger excavators and backhoes. As a result, operators do not have to climb over attachments or tools to get in and out through the front windscreen, as is often the case with compact equipment.
JCB claims the global market for skid steers is around 70,000 units a year, and is determined to take a considerable share of that market. It has built a production facility in the US, which has traditionally been the biggest market for skid steers, but sees plenty of potential elsewhere, including South America and the Middle East.
“There is a lot of market to go at,” says Burnhope. “We have invested in the product and invested in factory capacity, and we have got what it takes to become a leading player in this market.”
We have invested in the product and invested in factory capacity, and we have got what it takes to become a leading player in this market
Chief innovation officer Tim Bunhope
Also at the smaller end of the equipment range is the 8026 – a 2.7t conventional tail-swing mini excavator that JCB says is 14% more efficient that its predecessor, the 8025.
JCB group engineering director Mick Mohan describes it as “a conventional tail-swing machine with the visibility you would expect from a zero tail-swing”.
The company has also updated its 1CX – the smallest member of its backhoe loader family, including extending the digger arm to give a maximum reach of 4.7m and dig depth of 3.05m. Burnhope, who describes the 1CX as “a skid steer, mini excavator and backhoe in one”, says the upgrade makes it “a small but seriously versatile machine”.
Excavators – restyling the old
One range of equipment to receive a complete upgrade is the JS excavator fleet, where all 23 models have been improved and modified.
All 19 tracked and four wheeled models from 11t to 46t have been restyled to look stronger and more rugged, and seven of the machines are now powered by JCB’s 4.4l Dieselmax 444 engine.
It is the first time the Dieselmax has been fitted in the excavator range, after many years of powering backhoes and telescopic handlers.
JCB chief innovation officer Tim Burnhope says the Stage IIIA-compliant engine “will set a benchmark in reliability and performance” in the excavator market, and claims customers will “quickly notice the difference” in performance, with up to 23% more torque, making earthmoving work and bulk excavation much easier.
The Stage IIIA-compliant engine will set a benchmark in reliability and performance
Chief innovation officer Tim Burnhope
The remaining models in the range that are on sale in Europe are powered by either Stage IIIA-(Tier 3) or Stage IIIB-(Tier 4i) compliant Isuzu engines, depending on their size.
JCB has made improvements to the hydraulics to give fuel savings of up to 11% compared with the previous models.
Four excavators in the JS range are being fitted with new Stage IIIB-(Tier 4i) engines. Compliance has been achieved by incorporating a variable geometry turbocharger, exhaust gas recirculation and a diesel particulate filter.
For all models below 24t a roll over protection structure (ROPS) will be integral to the cab, achieved through internal strengthening of the cab and machine structure. For the larger models, a bolt-on ROPS cage will be fitted over the cab.