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Posted: 05/15/2019

How to choose the right mini track loader

MT85 scooping up dirt.

In an industry faced with an increasingly high labor shortage, many companies are turning to technology and equipment to help fill in the gaps and improve efficiency. Mini track loaders – sometimes referred to as a walk-behind skid-steer loader or compact utility loader – can bring big productivity to a variety of jobsites since they offer a smaller frame size with big versatility.

In fact, the machines are powerful enough to work alongside skid-steer loaders and mini track loaders yet nimble enough to maneuver on partially or even fully developed jobsites.

It’s important to consider your specific application needs before selecting the right model. Here are four things to keep in mind when purchasing a mini track loader.

1.    Consider the size and capabilities of the mini track loader.

Spec tables can be overwhelming. Focus on these four specs when you start evaluating mini track loader models to ensure that you get a machine that can handle the work you throw at it, fits on and can get to your jobsite, and can run the attachments you need to get the job done. Then request a demo from your dealer to give the machine a trial run.

● Rated operating capacity: If you plan to lift heavier loads, confirm that the rated operating capacity of the mini track loader will fit your needs.

● Size: Consider the dimensions of your typical jobsite and then ensure the width, height, and length of the machine will meet those constraints. Don’t forget to take track width into account as well. Wider tracks offer less ground disturbance when working on maintained surfaces whereas narrower tracks allow you to fit into smaller spaces, work closer to walls, and have better traction.

● Operating weight: Make sure the weight of your machine is compatible with your trailer setup so you won’t run into issues when transporting equipment to and from the jobsite.

● Auxiliary hydraulic flow: Check that the mini track loader’s horsepower will be able to power the attachments you want to use with the machine.

Another consideration when evaluating mini track loaders is operation styles. Choose between ride-on and walk-behind mini track loader models. Ride-on models not only reduce fatigue, but your operators have an enhanced view of the attachment and work area.

2. Build an attachment arsenal to boost versatility of mini track loaders.

Get more bang for your buck by equipping your mini track loader with several attachments. Attachment options expand the machine’s capabilities, enabling it to do serious work like trenching, tilling, digging, moving materials and more. Consider purchasing these five popular attachments with your machine so you’ll be prepared to handle tasks from demolition to cleanup — and everything in between.

● Bucket: Buckets make easy work of grading, leveling and moving materials.

● Pallet fork: Load, lift, move and place materials around the jobsite with precision.

● Breaker: Demolish rocks, concrete and other hard materials quickly.

● Industrial grapple: The industrial grapple’s design lets you get maximum contact with irregular-shaped materials, like rocks.

● Broom: When it’s time for cleanup, quickly sweep dirt and debris from driveways, sidewalks and parking lots so you leave the jobsite neat and tidy.

If you already own compact equipment, some of your attachments for larger compact loaders may be compatible with a mini track loader. Contact your local compact equipment dealer to ask about compatible attachments for your compact loader.

3. Think of a mini track loader as one of the crew.

Labor is expensive, and there’s less of it in recent years. Mini track loaders can make up for a short-staffed crew thanks to their ability to dig and move materials in cramped quarters.

Their narrow profile has made them an especially popular choice for urban developers, who sometimes need equipment to travel next to or through established buildings as crew numbers dwindle. Plus, mini track loaders show up ready to work every morning and can complete the equivalent of about two workers’ worth of labor per day. No lunch breaks required.

4. Plan for scheduled mini track loader maintenance.

If you own construction equipment, the maintenance requirements for mini track loaders should sound familiar. Every manufacturer details service interval requirements in the machine’s operation and maintenance manual based on machine hours and/or calendar time. Just like with other machines, you and your operators will need to keep on top of grease point maintenance as well as oil, filter and fluid changes. Regularly inspecting the machine for leaks and any wear and tear — especially on the tracks — can help prevent minor issues from becoming major ones. Scheduling planned maintenance into your calendar will also help keep the machine running at peak efficiency and help prevent downtime.

At first glance, the benefits of a mini track loader can be overlooked and cast aside with the misbelief that bigger equipment bring a bigger boost in productivity than a smaller machine could ever offer. But technological advances, changing jobsites and a reduced workforce make mini track loaders a smart, versatile investment for you and your crew today and in the future.

Discover how the crew at Jat’s Backyard Landscaping traded in their shovels for a mini track loader.

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