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A Slow Year, Some Additions For Wheel Loaders

In 2008, just about every manufacturer had a major wheel loader release in coordination with ConExpo-Con/Agg. Volvo released a prototype of the L220F

In 2008, just about every manufacturer had a major wheel loader release in coordination with ConExpo-Con/Agg. Volvo released a prototype of the L220F Hybrid wheel loader, which reportedly offers a 10% reduction in fuel consumption. Other manufacturers followed suit, releasing wheel loaders with cleaner-burning engines and boasting power and comfort. This year, however, there's little activity as those same manufacturers sell off a surplus of equipment in a down economy. However, there have been a few upgrades and some complementary items that deserve attention.


Komatsu America Corp. has added the WA480-6 wheel loader with large capacity torque converter to its fleet. It has a net horsepower of 299, an operating weight of 55,920 to 56,340 pounds and a dumping clearance of 10 feet 6 inches when equipped with a 6-cubic-yard bucket.

The wheel loader comes equipped with Komtrax technology, which monitors a variety of machine operating information including daily fuel consumption, working hours, hour meter, location, cautions and maintenance alerts. It uses wireless technology to relay information to a secure Web site for analysis.

The company says the torque converter provides tractive effort, improved acceleration and hill-climbing ability and allows the machine to up-shift gears faster. It is powered by a SAA6D125E-5 diesel-engine with an electronic common rail fuel injection system. The engine is EPA Tier 3 emission certified. There are operating modes for different working conditions. E mode is for general loading, and P mode has a maximum power output for hard digging operation and hill climbing. An Eco Indicator informs the operator when the machine reaches maximum fuel efficiency.

The WA480-6 has wide pillarless flat glass. Noise level is around 72 dB(A), which is achieved by viscous mounts. The air conditioner has been relocated to the front of the cab to increase seat reclining and backward slide adjustment.

The automatic transmission has an electronically controlled modulation valve that automatically selects proper gear speed based on conditions such as travel and engine speed. It includes two switches. The kick-down switch automatically downshifts from second to first when beginning the digging cycle; in reverse, it automatically shifts from first to second. The kick-down switch also acts as a power-up switch when the machine is in first gear or economy mode. Conversely, the hold switch keeps the transmission fixed to either the third of fourth gear speed when auto shift is selected.
Komatsu America Corp.

Cummins QSL9 engine platform meets EPA Tier 4 Interim and EU Stage IIIB off-highway emissions standards and is integrated with an air-intake to exhaust after-treatment system. The QSL9 increases top-rated power to 380 horsepower with peak power rising to 400 horsepower at a lower rpm in response to very high work load demands. This compares to a Tier 3 top-rated power of 365 horsepower with a rated peak power of 375 horsepower.

The 8.9-liter platform incorporates Cummins XPI extra-high pressure injection fuel system. The XPI system enables multiple injection events with high fuel injection pressure across all engine rpm speeds for cleaner combustion. The fuel system is complemented by a Cummins variable geometry turbocharger with a sliding-nozzle design. This continuously varies the air-flow boost to match engine rpm and load demands.

An integrated Cummins particulate filter enables a 90% reduction in particulate matter and a cooled exhaust gas recirculation system reduces oxides of nitrogen by 45%. The particulate filter replaces the exhaust muffler with equivalent sound reduction. Air intake flow for the QSL9 features a Direct Flow Stage IIIB air filter by Fleetguard providing a 35% smaller installation profile than typical engine air filters. This is accomplished by creating a direct flow path through the filter media, which is packaged in a rectangular configuration rather than a conventional cylindrical shape.

Case Construction Equipment's hydraulic quick coupler for wheel loaders now is available as a factory-installed option or as a retrofit. The hydraulic coupler is available for use on Case 521E, 621E, 721E and 821E wheel loaders and all configurations of those wheel loader models. It is compatible with general purpose buckets, forks, 4-in-1 buckets, scrap grapple buckets, side dump buckets, brooms and jib booms.

Case also has introduced joystick steering to the E-Series wheel loaders. The option includes a joystick lever; a forward, neutral, reverse switch and a transmission kick-down switch ó all housed in the left armrest of the machine. Joystick steering can be used in all gears and in all work modes. The company says it is best for use in short-cycle applications such as mining and quarry work. The feature operates at full response under 12 mph and at 80% response over 12 mph. Ranging in horsepower from 135 to 320 net (101 to 239 kW), the Case E Series includes six full-sized wheel loader models: the 521E through 1221E.
Case Construction Equipment

Michelin built the XHA2 loader tire for use in quarries and cement plants. Additional rubber has been incorporated in the tread, making the tire more damage-resistant. The sidewalls have been strengthened with a protective rib and anti-scrape shields. Michelin has developed crack-absorbing rubber compounds to reduce flats. A larger contact patch reduces the oscillations caused by heavy loads and frequent changes of direction. A new casing allows easier retreading. The company says the tire lasts up to 9% longer than its predecessor, the Michelin XHA.