Pointers from the Pros

CASE Construction EquipmentCASE Construction Equipment

Katie Pullen, Brand Marketing Manager

Market Insights: The backhoe market as a whole remains steady, with 14-ft models well established with the greatest demand (although there is, occasionally, some fluctuation). As the power, lifting and hydraulic capabilities of models in this size class continue to improve, contractors who previously operated larger models may consider working with a 14-ft model that provides lower purchase and fuel prices. Models in the 15-ft class are grabbing market share where the added performance and hydraulic capabilities now provide a suitable argument for replacing mid-sized excavators. As compared to an excavator, the backhoe does significantly less damage to the ground, maneuvers more easily, is easier to transport and still gets the lifting capacity of about a 7- to 8-ton excavator.

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Favorite Unit: The CASE 580 Super N represents the optimal combination of size, digging capabilities and lifting capacities. The backhoe features a 3.4-liter, turbocharged 95-hp engine outfitted with cooled exhaust gas recirculation (CEGR) emissions control technology. The Tier 4 Interim engine burns cleaner while delivering superior horsepower, faster response and at least 5 percent better fuel efficiency under load. Other features include automatic Ride Control on four-wheel drive models and remote hydraulic test ports that allow easy ground level access for service. Standard SiteWatch telematics and optional Power Lift technology help make this one of the strongest and most efficient backhoes on the market.

John DeereJohn Deere

Louann Hausner, Product Marketing Manager

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Buying Advice: Backhoes are one of the most versatile tools on the construction worksite. The biggest challenge for operators is having the right equipment when needed. Customers are often surprised by how many different tasks they can complete with a backhoe. Look for a machine equipped with a coupler. This will allow an operator to easily switch from a bucket to forks or a breaker. Specialty attachments like grapple buckets and brooms are great for niche applications like storm cleanup.

Favorite Unit: The 310K EP delivers premium features at an economical price. The newest model is designed specifically for customers that need reliable, easy-to-use power. The EP model provides a 70-hp engine with Tier 4 Interim power without needing any aftertreatment components and diesel particulate filters. This eliminates the need for additional operator training or extra monitoring of machines that have numerous operators focused primarily on quickly getting on and off a machine to get a job done. A PowerShift transmission provides smooth, on-the-go clutchless gear changes, enabling customers to maintain power as they are shifting, and provides ample room in the cab often taken by transmission control levers on the floor with other transmissions.

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Volvo Volvo

Andy Capps, Product Manager

Productivity Pointer: In trenching applications, having the correct size bucket and positioning the machine properly in relation to the task is the first step. When lowering the stabilizers, the ideal position is to have the rear tires 2 to 4 in. off the ground and the front bucket firmly on the ground. This will give you the widest stance and machine stability. Position the seat and backhoe controls so that the operator is comfortable and sees the trench. Set the machine’s engine RPM to roughly 3/4 throttle (most backhoe loaders today do not require max engine RPM due to the efficiency of today’s hydraulic systems).

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Favorite Unit: The Volvo BL70B with a Tier 4 Final engine is my favorite model when it comes to filling the needs of contractors and owner-operators. The BL70B is a 14-ft size class backhoe loader equipped (dig depth of 18 ft, 3 in. with an extendable dipper and quick coupler) with a 94-hp engine (optional 105 hp) and an automatic regen system. The weight range of the BL70B is 17,400 to 22,000 lbs, depending on how it is equipped. Standard features such as three selectable digging modes, main hydraulic flow sharing valve, Smart Hydraulics (variable displacement piston pump that constantly adjusts to the workload) and auto idle makes it one of the most fuel-efficient and productive backhoes in the 14-ft size class.


Jamie Wright, Product Manager

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Operational Advice: For utility contractors to be most efficient when operating a backhoe loader on a utility project, operators need to select single hydraulic pump mode when digging around other utilities or lifting/lowering pipes and other jobsite materials when more control and less speed is needed. For instance, operators should always select the single pump mode when working with heavy loads in order to slow the backhoe down for precise and safe placement. When lifting and/or transporting a load with a backhoe loader, operators must always make sure to secure the load correctly, travel and operate the machine at safe and appropriate speeds and avoid traversing side slopes whenever possible. Operators should make a point of carrying the load as low as possible when traveling to reduce balance issues.

Favorite Unit: The Terex TLB840 backhoe loader boasts a 94-hp Perkins engine and is powered by an optional four-speed servo power syncro transmission with automatic shifting, delivering fuel efficiency and high tractive effort. It has a curved boom design that offers operators greater clearance to reach over obstacles and the ability to load closer into trucks for greater productivity. Its slew system provides high torque for easier backfilling and slewing uphill. With “return-to-dig” easily selectable, the TLB840 has reduced cycle times and quick-loading capability. The hydro mechanical self-leveling feature allows for load retention at full height.

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Rafael Nunez, Product Manager

Maintenance Must Have: Preventative maintenance is key to keeping a machine up and running for greater productivity. Today, more backhoe loader customers have access to monitoring devices or telematics systems that provide important information about their machine’s health. I feel it’s important to take advantage of these systems when possible, because they can clue you into a problem before it becomes a major issue that takes the machine out of service.

Favorite Unit: JCB recently introduced a new version of the 3CX backhoe loader at CONEXPO 2014. This machine is aimed at rental companies and large fleet owners, like utility contractors. We designed it to be stronger and more efficient than similar machines in the heavy equipment industry. The new 3CX offers a stress relieved and reinforced excavator end, standard limited-slip differential and parallel lift, standard stabilizer ram guards, internal hose routings and the highest ground clearance to minimize damage. It also features a hydraulic flow up to 35 percent greater than competitive backhoes, and breakout forces up to 45 percent greater than competitive backhoes. The 3CX is also powered by the highly efficient Tier 4 Final JCB Ecomax diesel engine, delivering a strong 74 hp of power with maximum economy. This advanced engine meets the Tier 4 Final emissions standard without the need for a diesel particulate filter, reducing maintenance costs for customers.


Keith Rohrbacker, Product Manager

Safety Tip: When it comes to backhoe operator safety, important features to consider and compare include a quick-attach backhoe that exposes a three-point hitch, integral mainframe, hydraulic self-leveling loader control valves and auxiliary hydraulics to the loader and backhoe. An integral mainframe absorbs twisting loads during backhoe and loader operation; a braceless loader frame will improve visibility and access for serviceability; and the hydraulic self-leveling loader control valve improves pallet fork work, and is easily “shut off” for normal operation. Also, be sure the model includes backhoe crawling mode, which allows the operator to move the machine along the trench, in either direction, while at the backhoe controls, saving time and money while re-positioning down a long trench.

Favorite Unit: Kubota’s power utility M59 is a 59-hp TLB designed to tackle jobs with supreme power and unbeatable strength. The M59 has four-wheel drive for power and stability, an integrated main frame and a heavy-duty rear axle for extended life and smooth stopping performance. The M59’s backhoe has a 12-ft digging depth and offers more power than Kubota’s previous TLB models, as well as a bucket digging force of more than 7,600 lbs. The M59 loader is both cost- and time-efficient, offering increased productivity and lifting power of 3,960 lbs.