Push productivity higher with the right work tools
Nobody is more familiar with your equipment and what it can handle than you are, but even the most experienced owner/operators can run into challenges when working multiple jobsites, applications and attachments. It may seem overly simple, but when choosing work tools, it’s critically important to know your machine configuration and the requirements of your application. That way you achieve the best productivity for your money.
Every incremental improvement in productivity allows you to run your business more profitably. So when you purchase attachments, you want to be sure you’ve created the optimal pairing with your machine.
What to know before you go
The attachment experts at your equipment dealer or rental store will be able to give you the best recommendation if you come prepared with the information they’ll need to make solid recommendations. Here’s a good starting point for what you need to know before you head out to shop work tools:
Detailed Application Information
- Material—What kind of material will you be working in? What density? Hardness? Abrasiveness? Fracturability? Can you bring a sample?
- Attachment Tasks–How will the attachment be used? At what height? At what angle? Is the force required unusual in some way?
- Cycle Time—How fast will the task need be repeated/done? Is there travel for the machine with the attachment required?
- General Machine Specs—You should have the equipment model numbers, configuration, tipping load, lift/weight capacities and any other basic information for all machines that may work with the attachment. Also make note of each machine’s optional, retrofit or specialized features (e.g., changes to hydraulics, tires, engine, etc.).
- Hydraulic Capabilities—If your attachment requires hydraulics, find out your machine’s hydraulic flow (gpm) and pressure (psi) output capabilities. Also, understand the auxiliary hydraulics. Not all machines have a 3rd or 4th hydraulic function capability, but many attachments require this.
- Mounting Ability—If you have a quick coupler, know the brand and model, and bring the coupler’s serial number if it is available. Sometimes it’s really helpful to bring a photo for reference.
Select the best machines for attachment use
Select a machine that offers good visibility from the operator’s seat to the attachment. Its coupler configuration should allow the operator a clear view to the attachment.
Second, determine the type of coupler. The universal coupler interface and low profile side plates of mechanical quick couplers allow the most tools to match properly while keeping dirt and debris out.
Also note the type of coupler. Hydraulic quick couplers have a rocker switch in the cab that controls two hydraulic cylinders (that replace the manual handles of a mechanical coupler), allowing the operator to change tools while in the cab. Hydraulic cylinders control the vertical wedge pins that lock the tool in place.
Check out the flow specifications for the hydraulic circuit
Hydraulics not only provide power to the ground, but also enable lifting and tilting and run the auxiliary circuit, which drives attachments.
The criteria for “high-flow” or “standard-flow” may differ from one manufacturer to another, so it’s important to know what’s required and how the machine is equipped. Typically, high-flow circuits exceed 26 gallons per minute and 3,300 psi. High-flow machines designated “XPS” (33 gallons/minute at 4,050 psi) are capable of maintaining maximum pressure regardless of attachment speed or working conditions, at low or high idle. The typical flow for a standard-flow machine is 22 gallons per minute.
Understand the type of attachment you need
Attachments fall into two groups: fabricated and hydromechanical.
Fabricated attachments are the most universal and the machine from one manufacturer can attach the buckets or forks made by another manufacturer with very little trouble, as they do not require additional hydraulics to operate.
Hydromechanical attachments include multi-purpose buckets, mulchers, hammers, augers, grapples, rakes and other attachments that are powered by the machine’s auxiliary hydraulics. Most equipment manufacturers recommend that machines use the hydromechanical attachments from the same manufacturer. Why? Hydraulic hose hook-ups and fittings are of the same strength and brand, ensuring a proper match and tight fit to reduce leaks and loss of pressure. Machines and attachments are designed to work as a system, and these pairings are intended to maximize the horsepower and hydraulic capabilities.
Match the attachment configuration to the machine
Equipment manufacturers may offer a tool in a variety of configurations. Augers are a good example; direct drive or planetary drive augers are available for standard hydraulic flow machines. These configurations are designed to maximize the capabilities of the hydraulic circuit and are intended for medium-duty applications. A high-flow planetary-driven auger on a high-flow hydraulic machine would be appropriate for extreme-duty applications. The high-flow configuration is designed for maximum torque, and the hydraulic hoses and seals are built to withstand the additional pressure and maintain a leak-free connection.
Generally, a machine with high-flow hydraulics can operate attachments designed for standard-flow machines, but the reverse pairing (high-flow tools with a standard-flow machine) is not recommended. A standard-flow machine’s hydraulic system will be unable to supply the flow needed to properly operate the tool.
Not sure what you need? Rent.
When in doubt, using the rental avenue is a good way to decide the best attachment option. Rental allows you to experiment with different tools or tool-machine combinations and see what yields the most efficiency gains. You may also discover that a single machine with multiple tools will cost less than two machines on the job.