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JCB declares war on costs

JCB has launched what it claims to be the “most productive, economical and comfortable” backhoe loader it has ever produced.

The firm, which sells more backhoes than any other manufacturer and has a 41% share of the world market, says the latest version of its best seller will save customers between 6% and 16% in fuel costs.

The potential savings come from the new “EcoDig” system, which incorporates three hydraulic pumps that provide the same hydraulic output as previous models, but at lower engine speeds.

Operators can select from two working modes - Eco and low flow - to bring the third pump into action for better productivity, or take it off-line if they need finer machine control.

The new hydraulic system and lower engine speeds should also help cut exhaust emissions and reduce noise levels, both inside the cab and outside, when the machine is in use.

This new generation of backhoes also comes with JCB’s existing “EcoRoad” smooth ride system (SRS) and TorqueLock options, which are designed to boost productivity while driving around site. JCB says TorqueLock reduces fuel consumption by up to 25% while increasing speed by up to 10%, while SRS maximises load retention.

There is also an “EcoLoad” package of options to improve productivity while the machine is being used for loading. A “return-to-dig” feature automatically resets the shovel to dig position; a transmission disconnect diverts hydraulic power to the loader for faster lifting; and hydraulic speed control gives more tractive effort when loading.

The new machines also have a new look, which group managing director for product development Tim Burnhope has described as “more aggressive” in a nod towards the demands of the US market. Inside the cab the styling has been influenced heavily by automotive design. Other features include a heated front screen - an industry first for backhoe loaders - and an in-cab hot drinks machine.

“We’ve particularly set out reduce fuel costs”

Julian Carder

Speaking at the machine’s launch, JCB worldwide product marketing manager Julian Carder said: “We’ve particularly set out reduce fuels costs,” he said, adding that the new backhoe “would save nearly £900 in fuel alone for every 1,000 hours of use.”

Burnhope anticipates an improvement in trading over the next 12 months.

“Trading conditions have improved substantially and the industry appears to have turned a corner,” he said, adding that the firm, which laid off workers when the recession hit, is now recruiting again.

In the last two years, global sales of backhoes have fallen dramatically, although some markets - including India - have remained strong.

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