Specialty Uses for Backhoe Loaders
By Ed Brenton, Brand Marketing Manager, CASE Construction Equipment
A backhoe loader truly is one of the most versatile pieces of equipment available—whether it’s on the jobsite, in a disaster response situation or a variety of other specialty applications. CASE has recently introduced several enhancements to the N Series line of backhoe loaders—improvements to the cab and drivetrain, as well as enhancements to the electrical and hydraulic systems—that make these already versatile machines even more robust and productive.
We’ve made several features standard that were only options before, like our fuel economy package, which includes ECO mode switches for both the loader and backhoe functions, allowing for greater fuel savings, as well as optimal power and performance. CASE N Series backhoe loaders now feature an all-new Pilot Control hydraulic system for optimal precision and smoothness, offering the operator more control in applications where precision is critical.
Backhoe loaders can be configured in an infinite number of ways to suit specialty applications—options like sirens/PA systems, high-visibility paint, strobes, LED light bars, remote spotlights and advanced lighting packages can help improve visibility and effectiveness in any situation.
Other machine options include robust guarding packages and solid tires. Front fender packages, fuel tank guarding and boom guarding can help beef-up a machine and protect its critical components from damage that can be caused by debris or other hazards. Winches and hooks can also be added to a machine for a variety of search and rescue applications.
For disaster response applications, CASE offers an emergency deployment container through one of our vender partners. Designed to be carried into tough-to-access areas by a backhoe loader fitted with forks, the container includes a hydraulic generator, 100-gallon fuel tank and pump, a fire extinguisher, medical response kit, GPS system, satellite phone and other critical emergency response equipment.
We’ve found that a lot of railroad contractors use specially equipped backhoes in their operations. Access to work areas is a major challenge in the railroad industry, and having a tool carrier that serves as a platform for numerous applications is critical.
Backhoes used in railroad applications are typically outfitted with a bucket for moving ballast, dirt and other materials, and a set of long forks for moving bundles of railroad ties and other supplies. Some backhoes can be outfitted with universal couplers that allow the machine to handle attachments from other OEMs.
In railroad building and maintenance applications, backhoes are used to help place, move and shift track. CASE’s extendahoe option is popular with railroad contractors because it provides the ability to reach further away from the base of the machine, which allows more work to get done without moving the machine, and improves access at sites where the backhoe can’t get as close to the tracks due to regulations or obstacles. The CASE 580 Super N – a popular railroad model – achieves more than 3 feet of additional reach with the extendahoe feature.
Backhoe loaders can also be outfitted with a special cribbing bucket with thumb – an ultra-narrow bucket (generally 8-inches wide) with teeth designed both for cleaning out between railroad ties and helping to lift and place ties.
Access is Critical
One of the most critical challenges in specialty applications—particularly in disaster response, firefighting etc.—is access. If access to a worksite is problematic, you want to make sure that the equipment you are able to get on site is going to be as versatile as possible in order to maximize effectiveness and productivity.
In applications where access is a challenge, contractors try to bring as few pieces of equipment on site as possible. In addition to their material handling work and cleanup, the auxiliary hydraulics on a backhoe loader serve as a powerful platform for running hydraulic hand tools, eliminating the need to bring compressors or other equipment on site. Adding an extendable hydraulic hose reel to a backhoe allows contractors and first responders to use hydraulic saws, grinders, Jaws of Life and other hydraulic tools.
Many backhoes now come standard with telematics – a powerful equipment management and utilization technology that is particularly helpful for decentralized operations like railroad work, firefighting or other disaster response applications. Telematics provides an easy way to know the current location of machines and their crews. This can be helpful in many ways: It simplifies maintenance by keeping track of engine hours and maintenance alerts. It provides a record of how equipment is being used (idle vs. working mode, etc.) and helps identify underutilized pieces of equipment that may be put to use in areas where they are needed. And it provides an extra layer of security, as geofences (virtual perimeters) can be established to send alerts when a machine leaves the staging area (identifying possible theft), and unauthorized after-hour use can be easily identified.
The possible number of configurations for specialty backhoe applications is too great to be completely covered in this one article. If you are in need of a specially configured backhoe, or need to tackle a unique application, visit your local CASE dealer to explore the possibilities.