Special print with the kind permission of bi-GaLaBau
PoweR Pack aGeS on TR ack SBig bi-comparison Test
edition 3 | 09
construction machinery test bi GaLaBau 3 | 092
Five compact tracked loaders participated in the comprehensive bi-GaLaBau* comparison test near westerstede in the German ammerland region.(*) construction industry publication.
By Erwin Bauer, Oldendorf
compact tracked loaders – also known as crawler loaders – are (still) a niche product when measured by number of units sold in this country. Last year, just 150 new machines were sold in Germany. when compared to the classic compact loader on wheels, however, their numbers are increasing. This is not surprising, for the versatile tracked loaders offer a number of notable advantages as was demonstrated during the bi-test. The terrain of the sandpit at the Thalen company in the Friesian town of neuenburg-Moorwinkelsdamm offered excellent conditions for the test. By the end of February, the snow had long since disappeared up here in the north, in contrast to many other regions in Germany. on the other hand, the weather was awful on both test days, with drizzle driven by gusts of
Big bi-Comparison test
on TracksPower Packages
edition 3 | 09
construction machinery testbi GaLaBau 3 | 09 3
when considering the results, the range of the machines in the test must be taken into account: the cat 289c, Bobcat T300 and case 445cT are directly comparable to each other while the TL250 by Takeuchi is the largest in terms of weight and performance and the Terex PT-80 is the smallest machine in the field. This comprehensive test was expertly conceived and
supported hands-on by Deula westerstede.
Meenke Pollmann, a trainer at Deula westerstede, prepared the course the day before the competition with his komatsu bulldozer.
The five test machines
Five different brands of compact tracked loader underwent the test in the 4.5 to 5.5 ton class: the Bobcat T300, case 445cT, cat 289c, Takeuchi TL250 and the somewhat lighter Terex PT-80 model. The Bobcat, case and caterpillar machines have vertical lift arms, whilst the Takeuchi and Terex models are equipped with radial lift arms. The vertical lift arm design results in greater reach capabilities. Therefore, these compact tracked loader models can get closer to high-sided trucks for unloading. The models equipped with radial lift arms, on the other hand, have a physical advantage owing to the ability to develop more power, which was shown when lifting and pulling capacity was tested as part of the overall test.
Operating weight and hydraulics
Prior to starting the test course, all the compact tracked loaders were initially weighed on a calibrated truck scale. The measured operating weight is the sum of the machine weight with full fuel tank and standard bucket as well as a driver with a body weight of 75 kg. Measurements deviated upwards from manufacturer specifications (see table) for all the models except the case 445cT, which had been supplied as a trimmed down ‘Italian’ version without enclosed operator cab. The machine that had been originally intended for the test, which had a cab, was sold just before the test started. It is therefore necessary for the reader to take this
wind from the nearby north Sea. Following a dry morning on the second day, with even a short appearance of the sun behind dark rain clouds, the test drew to a close in incessant rainfall. The good thing about all of this was that the course remained moist during the test phase. This allowed the compact tracked loaders to fully demonstrate their advantages on the wet, soft ground.
The operators and their machines standing in front of the test coursehill, where they delivered a splendid performance in the competition. Photos: e. Bauer.
construction machinery test bi GaLaBau 3 | 094
into account when evaluating the test results. The different lift arm kinematics are another factor that needs to be taken into consideration. after the weights were recorded, readings for rates of hydraulic oil flow and pressure were taken for all test machines. Service technician Hans-Georg Schulte from the nearby Zeppelin branch at Moorburg-westerstede determined these values with the assistance of a special turbine flow rate measuring device. This allowed for precise determination of maximum flow rate at the respective pressure reading for each machine, for standard as well as for high flow hydraulics.
Prior to the test, the operating weight of the compact tracked loaders was determined with the assistance of a truck scale, with some significant deviations from the manufacturers’ specifications.
actual values for standard hydraulics as well as for high-flow circuits (connections above) were measured at the respective pressure.
not all hydraulic systems of the loaders tested are equipped with a push-button pressure release; in the case of the cat 289c this important feature for changing attachments is standard.
Service technician Hans-Georg Schulte (on the right) recorded maximum flow rates of the hydraulic systems of the test machines with a turbine flow meter and digital measuring device.
construction machinery testbi GaLaBau 3 | 09 5
with the assistance of the digital display on a hydraulic measuring device anchored to the ground, lifting capacities were determined even after darkness had fallen.
The highest pulling capacity was measured for the Takeuchi TL250. In relation to operating weight, this machine was only exceeded by the smallest model.
High lifting and pulling capacity
In the second part of the test, lifting and pulling capacities of the test machines were determined. Günther Peper, who is a teacher at the Deula westerstede, had configured the test station together with his students. To determine the lifting capacity, it was initially necessary to bury a large concrete block in the sand in order to obtain a fixed lifting point for the hydraulic pulling capacity measuring device. The compact tracked loaders were driven onto a flat bed trailer and the pulling capacity measuring device was suspended from the pallet forks mounted on the loaders. with the assistance of the digital display on the measuring device, the maximum lifting capacity was the reading taken at the point where the undercarriage at the back of the loaders began to rise. notwithstanding their compact design, the test machines have high lifting capabilities. In this test, as mentioned above, the radial arm models had an advantage and this was confirmed by the readings (see “Test Measurements“). The next morning, the maximum pulling capacities of the machines were measured. The spring balance was anchored to the concrete base and hooked onto a steel cable, which in turn was passed underneath the machines and attached to pallet forks on the front of the machines. Measurements were taken at the point the tracks began to spin. once again, surprisingly high pulling capacities were measured for all the machines, which are naturally most noticeable due to the pushing forces offered by the loaders. Meenke Pollmann, who until now had only had experience with standard bulldozers, was impressed with the high lifting and pulling capacities of the test machines and their pushing forces on this terrain.
Low ground pressure
The compact tracked loaders all offer low ground pressures (See comparison table). Thanks to the distribution of pressure over the entire contact area of the soil-friendly rubber tracks, the ground pressure of a compact tracked loader is less than that of a human being. The surface is therefore subjected to less stress and soil compaction is also reduced – an important feature especially for applications in landscaping and horticulture. Further, the width of the tracks means that the compact tracked loaders offer better traction on wet and soft ground than any machine on wheels. even when working on slopes, they maintain their stability. In addition, operation when using attachments such as trenchers and asphalt cutters which develop dynamic loads is jerkfree.
Test course simulating actual jobsite conditions
The test course was designed to simulate the typical daily jobsite work performed by compact tracked loaders. The objective was to assess productivity levels for the machines in specific construction site applications. Meenke Pollmann, a long-time trainer of construction machinery operators at the Deula in westerstede, had prepared the challenging circular course the day before with his komatsu bulldozer. The hill of heavy soil at the edge of the sandy area had a steep 35 degree slope. next to the starting point on two loading ramps, a mobile fuel station was arranged to fill all machines prior to the start. after four circuits of the course, diesel consumption
was measured. The operators initially had to load as much soil as possible in equal sized buckets, then drive up a steep slope and, at a marked point, let go of the joysticks for three seconds. This manoeuvre was intended to test the hydrostatic brake. all the machines were able to handle this task without any problem or significantly rolling backwards. Following a steep descent from the top of the hill and a subsequent full turn half way down, the drivers had to continue backwards down
construction machinery test bi GaLaBau 3 | 096
The five compact tracked loaders during a joint show interlude on the test course area.
The start of the test course, where it was mainly a matter of moving as much material as possible across a hilly landscape. at the end of each round, the material was dumped into a weighing unit, and after four rounds, the time was recorded.
Immediately before the start, each of the compact tracked loaders was completely fuelled up at the set-off position – a level surface provided by loading ramps.
the hill through a narrow space between two poles. The objective was to lose as little material as possible from the bucket. Following a 180 degree turn and a final run to the finish, the remaining material carried by the loader was emptied into the bucket of a large wheeled loader at a height of precisely 2.5 m. with the assistance of a weigh log on the wheeled loader, the total weight of the transported material was calculated and printed out on a weigh slip. after four rounds, the time taken was recorded, the total weight of material transported was noted and the machines were refuelled to determine fuel consumption.
It’s the operator who counts!
The construction machinery industry knows from experience that the operator plays a decisive role when it comes to the performance of a machine on a jobsite. This was duly confirmed on our test course. The earthmoving productivity and lift and carry results depend to a large extent on the experience and skill of the operator. From the start, the companies involved in the test were given the opportunity to use their professional demonstrators to get the maximum performance out of their machines.
Yet, even among professionals, there are small but noticeable differences. after all, a compact tracked loader is not a standard machine when compared, for example, to a wheeled loader or a mini-excavator. without a doubt, the manufacturers with specialist loader operators had an advantage.
But the fact that independent operators could quickly get to grips with the compact tracked loaders was proved by Sascha Jeske, a staff member of the Thalen Sand company. Sascha, who is more used to large wheeled loaders used for lift and carry work in the
construction machinery testbi GaLaBau 3 | 09 7
w w w . b o b c a t . e u
a c U T a B o V e T H e R e S T
always strive for perfection and attain it...
In 50 years of leadership, Bobcat has redefined compact equipment
and made it the industry it is today.
wherever you are, at the controls of a Bobcat compact loader, mini-
excavator or telehandler, you can do much more
and go much further.
construction machinery test bi GaLaBau 3 | 098
sand pit, acted as a substitute for the Terex operator who had fallen ill. after some initial difficulties, Sascha handled the course tasks splendidly. This goes to show that talented construction machinery operators are able to quickly adjust to the handling and mode of operation of compact tracked loaders and to work with them productively. To illustrate this, during the steep downhill travel in the first run, Sascha’s machine stopped because the seat contact switch was activated. when driving downhill, the operator encountered problems with the seat belt. The seat bar, which normally provides extra protection to the operator when driving downhill, was missing in the Terex compact tracked loader. In the other models, this sensible safety device must first be lowered when the engine is running before even beginning to work.
To create equal conditions for all the participants, the soil on the course was levelled and reshaped after every run.
at the first stop, loose material was loaded into the bucket.
Then the loader proceeded up a steep incline, to the mark…
...for a brief stop when the control levers were released... ...for three seconds before continuing the journey....
...downhill, if possible, without losing any of the load....and manoeuvring the loader through the narrow space between the orientation poles...
3 4 5
although it was the experienced Bobcat demonstrator Robby Bosch who, at 5.2 tonnes in four laps, moved the most material across the course, he was beaten in terms of productivity per unit time by the Takeuchi operator, Bernd Schulze. a decisive factor in this had to be the lower maximum speed of the Bobcat T300, which was the only test machine to be equipped with a single speed range.
construction machinery testbi GaLaBau 3 | 09 9
Neutral operator assessment
The independent test operator Meenke Pollmann of Deula westerstede, as well as horticulture and landscaping entrepreneurs Bernhard and karsten korpis of Brake at the Unterweser, were given the opportunity to drive the machines and to test them thoroughly. all the machines tested are equipped with grab handles on the side and steps with
anti-slip surfaces on the lifting frames and lift arms. Models with roomier cabs, like the Takeuchi TL250, offer definite advantages for entering and exiting the loader. The majority of operators prefer the safety glass doors which can be opened and stowed overhead to the hinged doors which open to the side. on all the test machines, the controls are arranged to provide a clear overview. The eye-level displays for oil pressure, hydraulic oil temperature, diagnostic functions, etc.,
were judged to be positive features. all models are equipped with fully adjustable, spring-mounted comfort seats. on the cat 289c, the seat can even be adjusted to the weight of the operator. The view to the rear is restricted for all models because of the design of the machine. The test team concluded that additional mirrors are of limited help when travelling backwards. This means that robust cab rears with collision protection guards are all the more important. It is doubtful
Lifting capacity... Reading 2.81 t 2.41 t 2.56 t 3.84 t 2.71 t
...in relation to own weight In percent 61% 52% 51% 70% 63%
Pulling capacity ... Reading 2.74 t 2.74 t 3.05 t 3.46 t 2.74 t
...in relation to own weight In percent 59% 59% 60% 63% 64%
Then one had to rotate in place... ...backwards down the hill. after making a half-turn it was necessary to...
...and then drive...
construction machinery testbi GaLaBau 3 | 09 11
Assessment by independent operators, of the measured and test course resultsManufacturer/Model Bobcat / T300 case / 445cT caterpillar / cat289c Takeuchi / TL250 Terex / PT-80
ease to enter and exit Points 1-10llllllllll
Visibility and arrangement of controls Points 1-10llllllllll
all-round visibility of attachment when travelling forwards/backwards Points 1-10
access to daily maintenance points Points 1-10llllllllll
ease of maintenance Points 1-10llllllllll
Driving stability with load Points 1-10llllllllll
enclosure of running gear, hoses, cables Points 1-10
Productivity (course)amount of soil moved (t/min)
efficiency (course)amount of soil moved (t/litre Diesel)
Lifting capacity in relation to operating weight Points 1-10
Pulling capacity in relation to operating weight Points 1-10
Ground pressure Points 1-10llllllllll
Price / Performance ratio Points 1-10llllllllll
Total number of points 112 106 109 111 106
...dump the material as fast as possible into the bucket of the Volvo wheel-loader. after four rounds, time was taken and the material weighed.
Robby Bosch is pleased about the high volume of material that he managed to move on the course.
edition 3 | 09
edition 3 | 09
construction machinery test bi GaLaBau 3 | 0912
after the full run, the machines were topped off with fuel using a measuring flask in order to determine the exact fuel consumption.
while all hydraulic hoses are protected underneath the lift arm here…
...they protrude above the lift arm on this model and thus constitute a source of danger, for instance, when working in undergrowth.
access to daily maintenance points on the cat 289c is exemplary, an important consideration for operators in daily construction work.
clever: Thanks to a lever (yellow), the air filter on the Takeuchi TL250 can be opened above the radiator, allowing it to be removed without obstruction.
Stones can get lodged between the tank and the cylinder rod of the lift cylinder directly above.
Independent test personnel karsten and Bernhard korpis get a presentation from product manager Uwe külpmann about the case 445cT.
how long the plastic lining at the rear of the Terex compact tracked loader will last in work conditions. The view to the front is good for all models. Daily maintenance points such as air filters, alternators, the battery and cooling system, the engine oil and fuel filter, the hydraulic oil fill, engine oil fill and oil level reader are easily accessible for all machines, with only marginal differences between the different models. The hydraulic systems on some models, the pressure of which can be relieved at the push of a button, without oil leakage, were well received. The power
limiting controller on the hydrostatic traction drive of the cat 289c which prevents stalling of the engine in case of overload as well as the rpm-dependent engine cooling system also impressed the test team. Furthermore, the standard version of this machine, like the case 445cT – comes with a STVZo-approved roadworthiness license.
Tracks with roller suspension
The track roller suspension systems used on the Bobcat, cat and Terex models were found
to be very comfortable by the independent operators. Steel leaf springs or torsion bar springs on the track rollers absorb shock and ensure a smoother ride when driving across uneven areas. This also reduces the loss of materials being carried by the loaders. In the cat 289c, the running gear is mounted on both sides of the machine and it can swing out via a pair of torsion axes to simplify cleaning. The hydraulic vibration damping has the effect of adapting the frame of the machine to the terrain and protects the machine and operator from vibration and shock. one drawback of this suspension system is that hoses and cables in the running gear are relatively exposed. This is the case with the cat tracked loader as well as the Terex PT-80. In the latter, the test team considered that the open undercarriage with rubber track rollers, like those used in snow crawlers, would present a problem when used on aggressive surfaces and materials. The running gear on the other models are all enclosed and equipped with sloped covers. Since compact tracked loaders are used on soft ground, for instance for horticulture and landscaping applications, as well as on gravel, running gears that are completely made of steel ought to prove to be more durable in the long run. The cast steel track rollers and idlers are sealed and lubricated for life. on all the test machines, the rubber tracks with their embedded steel running gear parts can be tensioned with grease guns.
construction machinery testbi GaLaBau 3 | 09 13
Robust: The suspension running gear of the new compact tracked loader generation from caterpillar now has tracks and running gear components embedded in steel…
...but these cables are completely exposed – a compromise due to the suspension system...
Following completion of the series of tests, various attachments were shown. w. Schäfer, general importer for Takeuchi, presented the TL250 tracked loader with laser-controlled grading blade for precise, fast levelling.
Summary of the test results
we had already assumed as much, based on positive feedback from users in the landscaping market, and can now state for certain: compact tracked loaders are proven power packages that can hold their own even in extreme ground conditions where other
types of construction machines have long since been forced to throw in the towel. all five compact tracked loaders were able to carry out the assigned tasks on the course and proved to be absolute specialists on the terrain. anyone who has come to appreciate in practice the amazing pushing and lifting capabilities offered by these compact
machines on soft ground and even on steep slopes will surely not want to do without them anymore. Thanks to their numerous attachments, they can also be used all year round. For all models, hydraulic quick-attach systems are available as special equipment, so the operator does not have to climb out
always strive for perfection and
attain it... In 50 years of leadership,
Bobcat has redefined compact
equipment and made it the
industry it is today. wherever you
are, at the controls of a Bobcat
compact loader, mini-excavator
or telehandler, you can do much
more and go much further.
T 110S M a L L S I Z e , B I G P e R F o R M a n c e
construction machinery test bi GaLaBau 3 | 0914
of the cab when mounting or dismounting pallet forks, buckets, etc. The cat and case models are delivered as standard with road homologation.The differences between models in the test are to be found in the detailed summary, based on a cross-section of the subjective assessments by the independent operators, the measurements taken and also the performance on the course, which in turn results from a combination of machine power and the skill of the operator. The test winner, the Bobcat T300, is of a very compact design owing to its transversely mounted engine and the absence of counterweights at the
rear of the machine. It can be supplied with or without roller suspension and there are three different control systems available, including foot controls. owing to its well conceived design and construction, it was awarded the most points, meaning that, in the overall evaluation, it was placed just above the higher-performing TL250 from Takeuchi, the "flagship" model on the course. The Japanese company, which brought the first crawler loader to the market some 25 years ago is considered to be the inventor of this remarkable type of construction machine which should still have a great future. The list prices are intended only as a rough
guideline. Depending on the negotiating skills of the buyer, large discounts are possible. of course, as in any decision to purchase a construction machine, the speed and the quality of the service also play a decisive role.
Video clips of the compact tracked loaders’ runs on the test course can be viewed at www.galabauer4u.com.
“Get in, lower the seat bar, start up, release the brake and drill“, this sums up erwin Bauer’s experience with the cat289c.
Buckets up was the order at the end of the test for all participants: compact tracked loaders are superb!
Bobcat demonstrated its soil conditioner, used, for example, for fast levelling of paths or preparing a seedbed, one of 38 attachments specially designed for the T300.
construction machinery testbi GaLaBau 3 | 09 15
w w w . b o b c a t . e u
Always strive for perfection and attain it... In 50 years of leadership, Bobcat has rede� ned compactequipment and made it the industry it is today.Wherever you are, at the controls of a Bobcat compact loader,mini-excavator or telehandler, you can do much moreand go much further.