Front end wheel loaders are one of the most versatile machines in use today, having a diverse application across mining, agriculture and construction industries. The qualities and strengths of wheel loaders are equally diverse, with huge disparities between a machine’s capability and its price tag making the market sometimes difficult to navigate. Within this competitive marketplace are ten brands that we think stand out from the crowd.
With a history dating back to 19th century Japan, Kubota have long pressed the envelope on industry standards and innovations. Kubota’s seamless transition into the Australian industry rests in their tailored machines, designed specifically for the outback’s notoriously harsh conditions. Kubota are the leaders in the production of compact wheel loaders, focusing on the handling, speed, safety and ecological sustainability of their machines to maximise productivity whilst minimising costs.
Built specifically for Australian weather, the Kubota R Series Wheel Loader comes in a 41.2 and a 46 horsepower model, both including auxiliary hydraulics, articulated steering and compatibility with a wide range of attachments. It is the perfect machine for managing tight spaces or traversing the loose surfaces of Australia’s scorched earth.
A staple in the machine industry, Komatsu has been operating within Australia for 50 years. Not just another Japanese machinery company to the list, Komatsu have completely adopted Australia as a second home with near complete national coverage through factories and distribution lines, as well as the employment of 2,300 staff in Australia alone.
Komatsu are also producing some of the most environmentally conscious machines in the industry. The company’s current investments into electronic motors and bio-fuel research are directing the industry towards environmentally safer machines without any sacrifice to power.
When it comes to finding the right wheel loader for a job Komatsu offers a huge selection of machines. With their loaders working at an operating weight of 16 to 220 tonnes, Komatsu has a suitable vehicle for any type of work. Each model also provides machine versatility as well as the Komatsu signature satellite monitoring system, which allows owners to monitor their machines performance without having to get beneath the hood.
Case is an American machinery company that has ties stretching back to the 1800’s and the origins of early machinery innovation. It is a company that incorporates the ethos of American horsepower into its machines, boasting some of the most powerful engines in the industry.
The company’s loader range is expansive but horsepower excellence is static throughout each model. The bigger models such as the Case 1121G and the 1021G carry 347hp and 320hp engines respectively, making them some of the industry’s most powerful machines. The powerful engine is backed by equally strong hydraulics and with the Special Catalytic Reduction (SCR) technology there are no dividends to the machines fuel efficiency, exhaust temperatures or its longevity.
Chenggong is a Chinese machinery company that specialises in Wheel Loaders and operates seven sub factories to allow for the maximum output of machines, reaching optimisation levels that see as many as 45 loaders being built each day. This comes with no sacrifice to quality however, by adding professional engineers and technicians, as well as utilising advanced inspection devices, Chenggong has been able to create a stream of high-quality machines with a low price tag.
The heavy duty loaders adopt a wet axle that has tonnes of new designs on their hydraulic and electrical systems. The wheel loaders also use a turbocharged engine as well as an optimised radiator system and specially-made hydraulic steering to allow for simple and safe operation. Each cab is also equipped with optional A/C and an ergonomic design that maximises comfort, space and visibility for the operator. An operator’s dream at a third of the price.
JCB Construction Equipment is a British machine producer that has origins in construction, landscaping, demolition, and agricultural markets that date back to 1945. Operating in Australia for more than 40 years, the company has spread through every capital city and has brought with it a focus on simplicity and accessibility.
The company’s minimal designs have been welcomed by the industry, with their machines intending to make work more straightforward. Their wheel loaders work on the mantra that a comfortable, confident operator is a more productive one, meaning their loaders all centre around a spacious cab, a telescopic steering column to prevent back injuries and an LCD screen that monitors the machine’s health.
JCB also have added Livelink to their loaders, allowing owners to monitor their machine’s health and usage from their mobile phones, maximising the machines up time and security.
Yanmar’s signature yellow and red loaders have been servicing Australian construction sites for years. The Japanese company takes pride in its history, having spent more than a century building machines. This directly translates to the pride they take in their machines, specifically their V4-7 wheel loader.
The V4-7 loader owns one of the most thoughtful engines to ever power a machine. The DPF equipped engine finds the perfect harmony between power and ecological sustainability. The adjustable horsepower allows the wheel loader to pervade heavy loads or loose surfaces without increasing the chance of engine failure, while the innovation inside the engine minimises matter occurrence and decreases the machines impact on the environment.
The appropriately named Hercules are the company behind the upcoming Hercules Midget Mini Wheel Loader, a loader so small that it will be able to travel inside buildings and manage tight paths that other loaders just can’t. Other than creating the tugboat of the land, Hercules have a long reputation of producing the highest quality light wheel loaders and heavy-duty wheel loaders.
It’s the diversity that separate Hercules. From their HC series long campaigned as the small duty all-yard champion to their state of the art YX series, with the 636 and the 656 models fitted with Shangai Diesel (licensed by Caterpillar) and Weichai Deutz engines, as well as robot-welded, sand-blasted and rust-proofed chassis.
Hercules also offer an eco-190 electronic model, specifically developed for indoor use. The Eco model uses an 8KW electric motor so that there are no exhaust fumes and the diesel engine roar is replaced by a subtle electronic hum.
It’s only natural that one of the first machine companies to offer the skid steer (all the way back in 1965) has strong foundations in producing machines for the construction industry. Mustang has an expansive research and development department that ensures the safety, durability and all-round quality of each machine leaving their factory.
The American hallmark offers the ML360 and the ML460 wheel loaders, both able to reach ground speeds of up to 12.4 miles per hour and both offering a tight turning radius. Another unique feature of the Mustang is Skid-a-Tach, a system that allows the loader to use most skid loader attachments, increasing the versatility of an already adaptable machine.
Yellow powerhouse Cat would be difficult to leave off any list, but especially one dealing with wheel loaders. The leading manufacturer of construction and mining equipment has established itself as a force for any machine production within their industries. And Caterpillar wheel loaders do certainly not betray their industry dominance.
Featuring both EPA tier 3 and 4 engines, Caterpillar wheel loaders are both compliant with the highest level of ecological requirements and effective in slowing the machines fuel consumption. The machines are also extremely durable and offer huge bucket capacities and power for the size of their loaders. Caterpillar also offers a huge range of heavy-duty wheel loaders, with their 938k model reaching a staggering operating weight of 15,485Kg.
Volvo wheel loaders may be the Ferrari of the construction industry. Painted in two tonnes of yellow and black, slick headlights protruding from the side bonnet and a shiny Volvo badge on the grill, it’s as visually aesthetic as a machine can get. And the internal fulfils the promise of the outside.
Fitted with features like the Volvo Eco pedal that pushes back when the engine is over-revved, Automatic Power Shift that allows the machine to optimise its speed and fuel consumption through adjusting machine gears and a cab that takes operator comfort to another level.
Volvo’s Boom Suspension System also reduces bucket spillage by absorbing shock when digging, increasing the amount of weight that is carried with each dig. Their machines put serious consideration into optimisation through design and the result is a powerful and versatile range of wheel loaders, built to conquer any job in style.
Is there another brand that you think should be in this list? Share your thoughts below! Or browse through our new and used wheel loaders to find the right machine for you.