The front end loader is a versatile machine. It’s basically a Swiss Army Knife on wheels (and sometimes on a tracked chassis), a true master of all trades and a vehicle fitting for any job put before it. Loaders, after some etymological developments in Australian colloquialism have all universally become known as front end loaders, but that’s only fitting for a machine that has a universal applicability in any industry it finds itself. Here are some of the best extensions that expand the loader’s capabilities.
Front end loader buckets
If the front end loader in its simplest form is a bull, then the bucket is its horns. There is perhaps no image that resonates more with construction machinery than that of a front end loader shifting dirt from a dusty and barren job site with a highly perched bucket. But while the bucket attachment has become synonymous with the front end loader, the bucket itself comes in many varieties, all capable of handling different jobs.
There are general purpose buckets that will suit most of the jobs put before the loader, however where specific jobs are required there are alternative buckets designed to optimise the machines performance. Light loads may benefit from lighter material buckets that support a larger volume of substance at the same weight as a general bucket, where rock or sieve buckets feature slim grate designs that will permit loaders to remove rocks while allowing the soil to sift through. For any Inspector Gadget penchants, there are multi-purpose buckets that feature blades, buckets and grabs, allowing the loader to manage multiple tasks without a need to manage extensions.
Buckets are typically crafted from high tensile steel at light weight, which has been pressed and laser cut to assure maximum strength and reliability for the loader. They are also designed to combat roll back and assure safety for the loader operator without any dividend to the machine’s structural strength.
Front end loader bucket teeth
Also referred to as bull blades, the bucket teeth add more than just character to a loader. With as much zen as a Japanese monk maintaining a pebble garden, the bull blade can turn a heaving, several tonne loader into a gentle rake. The bucket teeth are also helpful for a site that has a heavy concentration of roots, with the teeth design able to tear through and penetrate difficult surfaces. There are also grated gap-teeth-style Stick Rake attachments available for jobs that require a mass of shrub or rocks to be pushed aside without affecting the soil level.
Front end loader forks
The fork attachment can transform the clumsy carrying ability of a front end loader to allow the machine to pick up and handle items with grace. Forks are available for a range of purposes and can have a specific or general use. While there are generic forks that are designed to replicate a forklift and lift heavy pallets with stability, other forks are available for specific tasks. Take the bale fork for example, an extension fitted with two spikes that pierce bales of hay and allow the loader to shift a high volume of hay at high speeds, perfect for the agriculture industry.
Front end loader grapple
The grapple attachments transform an innocuous looking loader into a machine that looks like it’s gained an appetite for small cars (this grapple is a great example). There is practicability however to the grapple or grab attachments, such as the added ability to handle and shift items of varying size and shape. Compact loaders can achieve a similar functionality to a forklift within a warehouse by utilising this attachment.
When working in forestry or when carrying large pylons of wood there is no better attachment for a loader than the tree grab, which utilises extra hydraulic arms to grip the logs or wooden poles resting on the forks and allows for swift handling. When working with a silage pit there is a power grab attachment that is capable of picking up large volumes of silage and transferring the material around the site without letting large amounts fall through. The silage grab also has multiple variations to suit agriculture needs.
Front end loader sweepers and brooms
Sweeping may seem like a job for which the front end loader need not apply, but the agriculture and construction industries will recognise the utility of this attachment. With attachments like the mud scraper that can clear a site or track of mud in moments, to the Agriclean and Bucketbroom models that can clean wide sites of dust like a street-sweeper, there are countless uses within the industry for these extensions.
There are ways to improve a loader from the inside too, with technological developments leading to the production of intricate tools and devices that can increase a loader’s performance. There are a range of onboard scales that measure the exact weight of a load to the kilo, improving the overall safety and production of a loader’s work. There are even implements available that automatically lubricate the machine’s systems, meaning the labour and time it would have taken to manually grease the machine can be forwarded to time spent on the site.
Alternative front end loader extensions
There are almost endless extensions available for the front end loader and with the continual development and expansion of the loaders use, there are more and more unique attachments being thought up. While not exactly a necessity in Australia (unless you’re on a lucky trip to Jindabyne) there is a snow pusher attachment that is capable of moving large volumes of snow, there is a mulcher and slasher attachment (maybe borrow the loader over the weekend to do your lawns?), a shear grab that both cuts and carries and even a screening drum that can sieve, sort, wash, mix, and clean a range of materials.
For generally improving a loader there are also attachments that can improve the overall functionality of the machine. Say a loader is just short of reaching the required dumping heights, there are arm extensions available to stretch the machine’s reach, and if an operator is looking to improve the general safety of their machine there are counterweights available that will stabilise the loader. The options are vast and growing, it shouldn’t be two decades more before front end loader cabs are fitted with coffee machines and attachments are available that give the machine full autonomy, allowing operators to merely feign work; or at least we can dream.