The construction industry has access to a wide variety of earth moving equipment, to perform a wide variety of tasks. The only downside to having so much choice is that it can make finding the right equipment for the right job a little complicated.
One particular area where our customers often need guidance is around compact loaders. Even though skid steer loaders (SSLs) and compact track loaders (CTLs) are designed to perform similar tasks, some important design features affect their use and the working conditions they are most suited to.
Here we compare the features and the unique advantages of these machines to help you find the right equipment for your next job.
Wheels versus tracks
The most obvious difference between CTLs and SSLs is how they get around – CTLs move on tracks, while SSLs move on wheels (although SSLs can also be fitted with over-the-tyre rubber tracks).
Here’s what tracks vs. wheels really means on the job:
Both CTLs and SSLs can easily manoeuvre in and around reasonably tight work spaces, underneath structures and across a variety of surfaces. But not all compact loaders are created equal:
SSLs turn by dragging their wheels across the ground (or ‘skidding’). This can quickly tear up softer surfaces making them more suited to use on roads, pavements, concrete, gravel and other hard surfaces.
CTLs can easily (albeit slowly) move across hard, flat surfaces, but they thrive in environments where a little more traction is required – like wet, muddy or soft ground.
When using an all-terrain compact loader like a CTL, you needn’t delay work until ground conditions are dry. This allows you to get on with the job faster and boosts productivity – especially during the wetter months.
Attachments and configurations
Although CTLs have slightly greater lifting capacity, both types of compact loader have radial and vertical lift configurations and are compatible with a range of attachments for performing different tasks.
Some common attachments that can be fitted to compact loaders include: brushcutters; forks; auger bits; crane jibs; forklifts; general purpose buckets; spread levellers; sweepers; box rakes; trenchers; rippers; rock buckets; brooms; and multi-purpose tools.
Transport factors are worth considering when choosing between SSLs and CTLs.
With tyres instead of tracks, SSLs are generally a lighter option, allowing for easier and more cost-effective transportation to and from worksites.
However CTL can be more versatile in their application. Suited to a wider range of tasks, choosing CTLs can reduce the range of equipment you need to transport to and from site.
Regular fleet maintenance will optimise the performance and extend the life of any heavy equipment, but it can also be a costly factor when buying a compact loader. Basic maintenance starts with daily checks on the machine including the tires or tracks, fluids and leaks or other damage to the machine.