JCB is moving production of its entire skid steer range to the United States. Dan Gilkes finds out why.
JCB is introducing an expanded range of skid steer and compact tracked loaders that have been designed, engineered and built at its Savannah factory in Georgia, United States. The company has shown the first seven models, four skid steers and three tracked loaders, all of which are heavier than the current JCB line.
A further 11 machines, replacing the existing eight model JCB range, will be unveiled in June next year. In total the firm will offer seven compact tracked loaders and 11 wheeled skid steer models, all with high-flow hydraulic options.
“We needed these new models for greater coverage of the market,” explains John Patterson, JCB Group deputy chairman and chairman and chief executive of JCB in North America.
“Our previous range covered 53% of the market with eight models. This new generation of skid steers and compact tracked loaders has 18 models and will provide 97% market coverage.”
In the past JCB’s skid steers have been assembled in the US and at the firm’s compact equipment plant in Cheadle, Staffordshire.
From 2011, all skid steer models will be designed and built in Savannah, with Cheadle concentrating on the firm’s mini and midi excavators.
“This new generation of skid steers and compact track loaders has 18 models and will provide 97% market coverage”
John Patterson, deputy chairman, JCB
“North America generates 60% of the worldwide demand for skid steers and compact tracked loaders, so developing and producing the new generation of machines in Savannah makes perfect sense,” says Patterson.
Indeed, around 95% of the world’s skid steers are built in the US, reflecting the popularity of the machines in North America. Around 10% of global sales are to Europe, with 9% in the Middle East and 7% in Latin America.
JCB has invested $40M (£25M) in the Savannah plant, and plans to increase the workforce there from 300 to around 500 in the coming year to meet anticipated demand. The investment has gone on improving production lines, installing new machining and robot welding facilities, and increasing quality control.
The new skid steers have been designed to be easier to build and service, with up to 25% fewer parts per machine. JCB claims this results in a 35% cut in machine build time, so the skid steer is more price competitive.
For the first time in the company’s history, JCB will also sell the skid steer and compact loader range to another manufacturer, with Volvo branding the 18-model line for sale through its dealers around the world.
Patterson expects Volvo to take around one third of production when the machines are all available.
JCB has also expanded its attachment offering to provide more than 100 attachments. Skid steer customers typically buy three attachments per machine, contributing up to 20% of the deal price. The full range of attachments will also be offered through Volvo dealers.
Production started earlier this month, and the company hopes to build the first 100 machines by the end of this year, initially for US customers. European machines will come off the line in January, and JCB hopes to be building up to 20 skid steers a day by the end of 2011. “We are hoping to build around 2,000 units next year,” says Patterson.
The company has big ambitions for the revised range, aiming for a 10% global market share within a few years.
The machines have undergone some design changes to suit the US market, including a 17% larger cab size and a 40% larger entry door. A suspension seat is standard, and the cab features new control panels at the top of the A-pillar. For the first time JCB is offering factory-fit air conditioning and cab heating systems as an option.
JCB is now providing its patented Adaptive Load Control system as standard on all Loadall, Telemaster and Teletruk telescopic boom machines sold in Europe.
The system is designed to comply with the European regulation EN15000, which legislates for an automated longitudinal load movement control (LLMC) to assist in the prevention of forward overturning, when lifting as a stationary machine.
The system prevents the operator powering the boom out beyond a safe, stable point, or lowering the boom into a dangerous position, whatever the load, but allows the machine to continue to function as a loader.